What is Indiana Main Street?
Indiana Main Street (IMS), part of the Indiana Office of Community & Rural Affairs (OCRA), is a program based upon tenets and guidelines created by the National Main Street Center, a division of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. It encourages economic development, redevelopment, and revitalization of the state's cities, towns, and neighborhoods, particularly in the downtown and residential business districts as they play a critical role in the overall image of a community. As the state's coordinating program for the National Main Street program, IMS provides integral support and expertise to communities wishing to become part of, and actively involved in, the Main Street program.
Why become an Indiana Main Street community?
Since 1980, over 2,000 communities have been part of Main Street, bringing renewed energy and activity to America's downtowns and commercial districts, securing $61 billion in new investment, creating more than 525,000 net new jobs, and rehabilitating 251.000 buildings. In Indiana in 2015 alone, 1,662 net new jobs were created, there were 571 building and façade renovations, 284 new businesses were added, $51.2 million of public money was invested in downtowns, $118.8 million of private money was invested in downtowns, and 229,500 volunteer hours were contributed.
Through OCRA, IMS communities are eligible for a variety of programs, including the Downtown Enhancement Grant, Historic Renovation Grant, Main Street Revitalization Grant, and Place Based Investment Fund, that may assist with various projects such as façade, streetscape, and infrastructure improvements. IMS communities are also eligible to participate in workshops and training sessions focusing on Main Street issues.
How is an Indiana Main Street community established?
To become an IMS community, contact the OCRA appropriate regional Community Liaison to learn about the program and begin the application process.
How does the Main Street program work?
To guide community-based revitalization efforts, Indiana Main Street uses the Main Street Approach, the guiding framework for transformation strategies that is divided into four key areas:
Economic Vitality - Revitalizing a downtown or neighborhood commercial district requires focusing on its underlying economic health by committing to making the most of its unique sense of place and existing historic assets, harnessing local economic opportunity, and creating a supportive business environment for small business owners and the growing numbers of entrepreneurs and innovators. With the nation-wide growing interest in living downtown, supporting downtown housing is also a key element.
Design - A focus on design supports a community's transformation by enhancing the physical elements of its downtown while capitalizing on the unique assets that set the commercial district apart. Main Streets enhance their appeal to residents and visitors alike with attention to public space through the creation of pedestrian-friendly streets, inclusion of public art in unexpected areas, visual merchandising, adaptive reuse of older and historic buildings, more efficiently-designed buildings, transit-oriented development, and much more.
Promotion - The ultimate goal in promoting Main Street is to position the downtown or commercial district as the center of the community and the hub of economic activity, while creating a positive image that showcases the community's unique characteristics. This can be done through highlighting cultural traditions, celebrating and preserving important architecture and history, encouraging local businesses to market cooperatively, offering coordinated specials and sales, and hosting special events aimed at changing perceptions of the district and communicating to residents, investors, businesses, and property owners that the community is special.
Organization - To sustain a Main Street revitalization effort, a strong organizational foundation is critical, and may take the form of a standalone non-profit organization, a special assessment district, or a program housed in a municipality or existing community development entity. The focus of the organization should be to ensure that all organizational resources (partners, funding, volunteers, etc.) are mobilized to effectively implement the Community Transformative Strategies.