National Trust Main Street Center Four Point Approach™
The Main Street Center Four Point Approach™ is a preservation-based economic development tool that provides a foundational method for local efforts to revitalize downtown historic and commercial districts. As an essential component of the method, Montana communities utilize their local assets—historic architecture, cultural and natural resources and heritage, local enterprise and community pride. The four points of the Main Street approach (described below) allow Montana communities to harness local ideas and goals in a unified and organized community revitalization effort.
Organization establishes consensus and cooperation by building partnerships among the various groups that have a stake in the community. By getting everyone working toward the same goal, a Main Street program can provide effective, ongoing management and support for the downtown or neighborhood business district. Through volunteer recruitment and collaboration with partners representing a broad cross section of the community, a program can incorporate a wide range of perspectives into its efforts. A governing board of directors and standing committees make up the fundamental organizational structure of volunteer-driven revitalization programs. Volunteers are often coordinated and supported by a paid program director; for Affiliate communities that may not have paid staff, coordination efforts may be led by a mayor or council member, planning director or a leader within the local Chamber or economic development organization. Active participation of, and coordination with local elected officials and municipal staff is a must. This structure not only divides the workload and clearly delineates responsibilities, but also builds consensus and cooperation among the various community members.
Promotion takes many forms, but the goal is to create a positive image that will rekindle community pride and improve consumer and investor confidence in the commercial district and beyond. Advertising, retail promotions, special events, and marketing campaigns help sell the image and promise of Main Street to the community and surrounding region. Promotions communicate the unique characteristics, amenities, business establishments and activities your community has to shoppers, investors, potential business and property owners, and visitors.
Design means getting Main Street into top physical shape and creating an inviting environment for residents and visitors alike. It takes advantage of the visual opportunities inherent in a community by directing attention to all of its physical elements: architectural form and function of both public and private buildings, storefronts, signage, public spaces, parking, street furniture, public art, landscaping, merchandising and promotional materials. An appealing atmosphere, created through attention to all of these visual elements, conveys a positive message about the community and what it has to offer. Design activities also include instilling good maintenance practices, enhancing a community’s physical appearance through the rehabilitation of historic buildings, encouraging appropriate new construction, developing sensitive design management systems, educating business and property owners about design quality, and long-term planning.
Economic restructuring strengthens a community's existing economic assets while diversifying its economic base. This is accomplished by retaining and expanding successful businesses to provide a balanced commercial mix, sharpening the competitiveness and merchandising skills of business owners, and attracting new businesses that the market can support. Converting unused or underused commercial space into economically productive property also helps boost the profitability of the district. The goal is to build a sustainable commercial district that responds to the needs of today's consumers.