A city’s main street district is a critical component of any community, as it can act as a source of entertainment and economic development. In Wayne County, a governing body or nonprofit usually manages activities happening on Main Street. This creates an interesting circumstance as local governments seek a role in this community sector. What does this mean for Main Street Organizations and local governments?
As we conclude our focus on Government and Policy, this blog will discuss the relationship shared between government and Main Street Organizations.
What is a Main Street Organization?
Main Street organizations can take several forms and fill several functions in the community. These entities are generally a nonprofit overseen by a board of directors and sometimes may have an executive director or other staff. For example, Main Street Centerville only has a board, while Richmond’s also has a board along with an executive director.
The purpose of these organizations is to manage and coordinate activities related to Main Street. Some examples include attracting new businesses, hosting community events, implementing development projects, coordinating art projects, or advocating for local businesses. That is a short list of functions, as every town will have different needs and situations.
A component of a Main Street organization is its affiliation with the Indiana Main Street Program and Main Street America. The purpose of those programs is to revitalize and support the economy and image of Main Street districts across the state and country.
At any level, the government has a substantial stake in the development and direction of a city’s downtown. This is seen through various projects and programs a government entity implements. For example, the Indiana Mainstreet Program is maintained through the Office of Community and Rural Affairs (OCRA).
They work with three levels of Main Street groups: OCRA’s Downtown Affiliate Networks (ODANs), Indiana Accredited Main Streets, and Nationally Accredited Main Streets. In Wayne County, we have three ODANs and one Nationally Accredited Main Street.
Local and state governments tend to impact a main street most because of jurisdiction and importance. Main streets are a vital component of a town’s economic and tourist sectors, so it would make sense for the government to provide some guidance.
The Federal Government also has a role through grant funding, policy, and programs like Main Street America.
The intersection of Main Street and government creates a unique opportunity for collaboration on projects and programs. There have been several instances in Wayne County where this type of partnership has greatly impacted the community.
The Wayne County Government has used initiatives like the Hoosier Enduring Legacy Program (HELP) and READI 2.0 to implement various Main Street developments. Several of them were created with feedback from Main Street representatives. In addition, Main Street groups have provided letters of support for community and county grant applications.
In many cases, Main Street Organizations work with the government in some capacity. The role the government takes in this process will always vary. It may be as a funding source, program supporter, or resource connector.
A key component of this relationship is there should be collaboration and a focus on keeping community interests in mind.
The Importance of the Relationship
Why is this relationship so meaningful? Main street is a major component of not only a city’s entertainment sector, but is also a source for business and economic development. Collaboration between a Main Street Organization and a government body can help better align development and programming efforts.
It also helps ensure that the right people are brought to discussions concerning Main Street. This relationship gives the local community a voice in government projects or programs.
There is a two-way street created through this collaboration. Main Street organizations rely on government support in certain situations. However, the government needs Main Streets’ input on some projects. Again, both parties must consider community needs and interests.
Wayne County is home to several vibrant main streets that have greatly benefited from this partnership. It helps these community staples become more. More developments and projects are coming to fruition, so watch for news or updates.