No matter what the retail giants like Amazon do (or purchase), they can’t seem to diminish the power of Main Streets and their small businesses across the country. According to the National Main Street Center (NMSC), U.S. Main Street programs drove a 10-year high in community reinvestment in 2016. Communities where such programs exist reinvested $5.75 billion, established 5,498 new businesses, created 26,909 new jobs and rehabilitated 7,794 buildings throughout the country.
A subsidiary of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, NMSC oversees the Main Street America campaign, a network of more than 1,000 local Main Street revitalization programs in places such as Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Waco, Texas; and San Luis Obispo, California. Through Main Street America, NMSC supports these local communities with resources and advocacy that pave the way for infrastructure revitalization efforts and small business growth.
In May, NMSC held its annual Main Street Now Conference in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The conference brought together more than 1,500 people for learning and networking opportunities. The highlight of the conference may have been the encouraging data shared by NMSC, which shows that the work of Main Street programs does indeed make a difference in the communities where they work.
“Despite some media reports about the demise of Main Streets, many local business districts are thriving as a result of sound economic planning and community engagement,” said NMSC president and CEO Patrice Frey in announcing the success metrics.
The data from 2016 only strengthens the cumulative performance of Main Street programs. Since 1980, Main Street America organizations have driven more than $71 billion of reinvestment and a net increase of more than half a million jobs in their communities.
These successes come as Independent We Stand (IWS) prepares to celebrate one particularly impactful Main Street program next week. On June 30th, the IWS team will recognize MainStreet DeLand, winner of the second-annual America’s Main Streets contest, with a “Main Streets Make Us Better” event. This year, 242 Main Street programs in 48 states competed for the title, and more than 300,000 votes were cast to help decide the winner.
It’s programs like MainStreet DeLand and the 241 other contest entrants that drive the reinvestment, job creation and revitalization reported by NMSC. Small businesses often find a safe haven in the downtown districts of Main Street and, as it turns out, Main Street builds a safety net for the entire community.