The Main Street Movement

What is the National Trust Main Street Center?

The National Trust Main Street Center is a program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. In the 1970s, the National Trust developed its pioneering Main Street approach to commercial district revitalization, an innovative methodology that combines historic preservation with economic development to restore prosperity and vitality to downtowns and neighborhood business districts.

Today, over 1,700 communities in 37 states utilize the Main Street Approach.  Throughout these communities, nearly 100,000 buildings have been rehabilitated across the United States, and the amount of public and private investment in physical improvements tops $17 billion.  For every $1.00 invested through public and private sources in Main Street projects nationwide, an average of $32.00 is reinvested in the community.

Wyoming's contact with the National Trust Main Street Center is:

Benefits of Main Street

The health of downtown is at the very heart of the quality of life within a community. A prosperous, attractive downtown business district becomes a visible barometer for the well being of the entire community. The Main Street program includes many benefits.

Protects the existing tax base

The Main Street program protects and enhances private investment in banks, businesses, and commercial property as well as public investment in streets, sidewalks, water, and sewer lines.

An incubator for new business

A viable downtown offers opportunities and incentives for the new entrepreneur such as lower rent and technical assistance.

Attraction for economic development

Downtown reflects the overall image a community projects to potential investors. An invigorated downtown makes a very positive statement about the whole community.

Provides a point of focus and stability

A vibrant downtown gives the whole community and region a sense of pride and positive self-image. It serves as an anchor for the community providing stability necessary for economic growth.

Preserves the historical fabric of the community

In a healthy downtown, property owners are more willing to invest in and maintain historic commercial buildings, thereby preserving an important part of the community’s and Wyoming’s heritage.

Improves economic conditions downtown

A healthy downtown attracts new businesses, creates jobs, and strengthens service and retail markets. By diversifying the business mix and recruiting new businesses, dollars that would be spent elsewhere are spent locally.

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What is the Main Street Approach
to Commercial District Revitalization?

(Excerpted from the National Trust Main Street Center’s website,

The Main Street Four-Point Approach™ is a community-driven, comprehensive methodology used to revitalize older, traditional business districts throughout the United States.  It is a common-sense way to address the variety of issues and problems that face traditional business districts.  The underlying premise of the Main Street approach is to encourage economic development within the context of historic preservation in ways appropriate to today's marketplace.

The Main Street Approach advocates a return to community self-reliance, local empowerment, and the rebuilding of traditional commercial districts based on their unique assets: distinctive architecture, a pedestrian-friendly environment, personal service, local ownership, and a sense of community.

The Main Street Four-Point Approach™ is a comprehensive strategy that is tailored to meet local needs and opportunities. It encompasses work in four distinct areas — Design, Economic Restructuring, Promotion, and Organization — that are combined to address all of the commercial district's needs. The philosophy and the Eight Guiding Principles behind this methodology make it an effective tool for community-based, grassroots revitalization efforts. The Main Street approach has been successful in communities of all sizes, both rural and urban.

The Main Street approach is incremental; it is not designed to produce immediate change. Because they often fail to address the underlying causes of commercial district decline, expensive improvements, such as pedestrian malls or sports arenas, do not always generate the desired economic results. In order to succeed, a long-term revitalization effort requires careful attention to every aspect of downtown — a process that takes time and requires leadership and local capacity building.

The National Trust Main Street Center offers a comprehensive commercial district revitalization strategy that has been widely successful in towns and cities nationwide. Described below are the four points of the Main Street approach which work together to build a sustainable and complete community revitalization effort.

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The National Trust Main Street Center's experience in helping communities bring their commercial corridors back to life has shown time and time again that the Main Street Four-Point Approach succeeds. That success is guided by the following eight principles, which set the Main Street methodology apart from other redevelopment strategies. For a Main Street program to be successful, it must whole-heartedly embrace the following time-tested Eight Principles.

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Eight Principles Of Success


Downtown revitalization is a complex process and cannot be accomplished through a single project. For successful long-term revitalization, a complex, holistic approach must be used.


Small projects and simple activities lead to a more sophisticated understanding of the revitalization process and helps to develop skills that will help solve more complex problems and difficult projects.

Self Initiated Help

Continued long-term success depends on the desire, involvement and commitment of the community to find the solutions that will build downtown into a viable industry in the community.

Public/Private Partnership

Both public and private sectors have a vital interest in downtown. Each sector has a role and must understand the other's strengths and limitations. Working together, the public and private sectors can marshal complementary resources that can maximize the impact of a downtown revitalization strategy.

Asset Enhancement

Business districts must capitalize on the assets that make them unique. Every district has unique qualities, such as the distinctive buildings and human scale that give people a sense of belonging. The individuality of each community forms the foundation for a successful Main Street program.


Quality must be emphasized in every aspect of the revitalization program, from marketing materials and promotional events, to public improvements and window displays.


To improve current economic conditions, revitalization program leaders must work to change public attitudes about the commercial district.  Main Street requires a new look at downtown's use, purpose, and future.

Implementation Oriented

A primary goal for a Main Street program is to create visible change and activity from day-one. Small successful improvements at the beginning of the program can gain public support and foster community pride.
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