• Brownfield Redevelopment
     • Green Building Standards
     • Accessory Dwelling Units

     • Historic Preservation
     • Main Street Program

     • Alt. Energy Ordinances
     • Stormwater Management

     • Smart Growth Code Fixes
     • Form-Based Codes
     • LEED-ND
     • Transit Oriented Dev.
     • Zoning Ordinances
     • Scenario Planning

     • Agricultural Security Areas
     • Clustered Subdivisions
     • Official Map Ordinance

     • Access Management
     • Complete Streets Policy
     • Impact Fees
     • Traffic Calming
     • Walkability

Main Street Program

The Main Street program helps to reimagine the downtowns of existing communities, creating revitalized communities using existing infrastructure. The Main Street program provides support and structure for communities looking to revitalize their once vital core, leveraging local assets to regain a successful community.

The Main Street program was developed in the 1980s by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. It features a four-point approach that can be replicated in any community in the Tri-County region.


1. Organization

Main Street relies on public-private partnerships. The program can offer advocacy and management for a community seeking change. Main Street organizes a core group of stakeholders into a governing board and a group of involved volunteers will help define the long-term goals of the program. Main Street’s strict structure encourages coordination and consensus.

                                               Lowell, Michigan

                                               Lowell, Michigan

2. Promotion

Main Street promotes a positive image, instilling community pride, which, in turn, creates increased investor interest. Using volunteers, the Main Street develops a marketing scheme that encourages both community members and outsiders to reinvest in neighborhoods.

3. Design

Main Street uses existing infrastructure to turn the developed vision into reality. Capitalizing on existing architecture and businesses, a Main Street design creates an inviting space for the public. Developing new signage and plantings, adding public art and providing street furniture are a few examples of design features that enhance the streetscape. In addition to making these changes, implementing a long-term maintenance plan helps to ensure continued investment.

4. Economic Reconstruction

Main Street includes the promotion of successful local businesses and encourages new investment. Fostering an appropriate mix of commercial and residential development helps maintain a successful balance in the community. Converting unused space into new commercial establishments will help future investment and boost the vitality of the community.

Currently, 37 states across the country have revitalized their core with the Main Street program. Using the four-point approach of the Main Street program, communities can reinvigorate their once bustling downtowns and re-kindle local pride.

In Pennsylvania, the Main Street Program is housed under the Keystone Communities Program run by the Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED). The Pennsylvania Downtown Center offers assistance to a Main Street Program. It provides a guide to help potential Main Street communities develop a clear understanding of the program’s requirements and can assist communities navigate the application process through DCED.

The grants provided by DCED are available to all municipalities in the Commonwealth. Eligible communities in the Tri-County Region are encouraged to look at examples of successful Main Street Programs and apply for the funding.


  • Well-tested system that has worked in communities nationwide
  • Uses existing infrastructure to lure commercial establishments into a local community
  • Creates community pride and investment


  • Gaining support from members of the community can be difficult if people are not interested in changing the status quo
  • Since the organization is, in large part, reliant on volunteers, finding and retaining participants can be difficult
  • Instability in federal and state budgets have made grant funding less reliable

Practical Tips

  • Develop a working group to help spearhead the program
  • Use the governmental structure in place to gain support and identify stakeholders in the community
  • Create a strategy to gain Main Street designation