Earlier this week, the National Trust for Historic Preservation announced the winners of the 2015 Great American Main Street Awards (GAMSA). The GAMSA recognizes communities across the country for their dedication to revitalizing and maintaining downtown areas using the National Main Street Center’s Four-Point Approach. The communities selected this year have fostered job growth, reduced downtown business vacancies and kept their communities both vibrant and historic.
The National Main Street Center’s Four-Point Approach emphasizes organization, promotion, design and economic restructuring in downtown revitalization efforts. Communities are encouraged to use a structured program, with dedicated leaders and volunteers, to promote a good reputation for downtown, enhance the physical appearance of Main Streets and attract new businesses to diversify the local economy. This year’s receipients have added a total of several hundred businesses to their communities in recent years using teamwork and downtown business alliances.
The cities honored this year are Cape Girardeau, Missouri, Montclair, New Jersey, and Rawlins, Wyoming. Cape Girardeau recently served as the setting of the movie Gone Girl, but it impressed the National Trust for Historic Preservation with its new creative corridor downtown. The corridor brings together business, government and university leaders to inspire creativity and entrepreneurship downtown. Between July 2013 and June 2014, the corridor initiative had resulted in 27 new businesses and 58 new jobs.
In New Jersey, the Montclair Business Improvement District has worked for more than 10 years to set Montclair apart from surrounding cities, including New York City. Without using any incentive programs or tax dollars, the community has reduced commercial building vacancies from 50 percent to just 12 percent. A combination of new restaurants, retail shops, service businesses and offices keeps this economy local-friendly and diverse.
Finally, Rawlins, Wyoming, has used unparalleled teamwork to attract businesses and promote entrepreneurship. More than 100 volunteers dedicated over 7,000 hours of service to downtown in 2013 alone. The community even owns one of the downtown businesses, called The Merc.
Read more about these cities and the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s efforts to preserve and revitalize communities at www.preservationnation.org.
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