Main Street is a coast-to-coast movement by the National Trust Main Street Center that has established over 2,000 community programs. Oregon’s Main Street coordinator is housed in the State of Oregon Parks and Recreation Department.
The Main Street approach is a volunteer-driven program with an organizational structure of a governing board and four substantive committees: community organization, promotion, design and economic revitalization.
The Main Street Approach has eight guiding principles that set it apart from other development strategies:
- Comprehensive. No single focus—such as lavish public improvements or endless promotional events—can do the job. For successful, long-term revitalization, a comprehensive approach must be applied.
- Incremental. Baby steps come before walking. Basic, simple activities lead to a more sophisticated understanding of the revitalization process and help members of the community develop skills and resources to tackle more complex problems and ambitious projects.
- Self–help. Nobody else will save Main Street. Local leaders must have the will and desire to mobilize resources. That means convincing residents and leaders alike of the rewards for their investment of time and money in the heart of their community.
- Partnerships. Both the public and private sectors have a vital interest in Main Street and can work together to achieve shared goals. Each sector has a role to play and each must understand the other’s strengths and limitations to forge an effective partnership.
- Assets. Main Street must capitalize on the assets that make them unique, that give people a sense of belonging. These local assets must serve as the foundation for all aspects of the revitalization program.
- Quality. Emphasize quality in every element of the process—from storefront designs to promotional campaigns to educational programs—shoestring budgets and “cut and paste efforts won’t do the job.
- Change. Changes in attitude and practice are slow but definite—public support for change will build as the program grows and consistently meets its goals.
- Implementation. Activity creates confidence in the program and ever-greater levels of participation. Frequent, visible changes are a reminder that revitalization is under way. Small projects at the beginning pave the way for larger activities as the efforts mature.