Why Main Street?

Spirit of Athens follows the "Main Street" approach and is working to qualify as part of the state program being launched January 2010. Read the following entry from the Michigan Main Street blog titled, "Why Main Street?"

By Laura Krizov, Manager, Michigan Main Street Center

Michigan State Housing Development Authority

Why Main Street? I am sure Main Street communities ask themselves often…. Why do we continue to follow the Main Street Four-Point Approach TM?

The answer should be that it gets those individuals who are passionate about their downtown or commercial neighborhood involved. The commitment and enthusiasm is what drives the program to success. It doesn’t matter how big your budget is or how large your volunteer base is, it is about the passion volunteers have for their downtown that will make the program successful.

The philosophy of Main Street, which is centered around the Four-Points (Organization, Promotion, Design and Economic Restricting), has Eight Guiding Principles that make the program so successful. The philosophy is what makes this grassroots effort, community-driven program so great.

The Eight Guiding Principles are:

Comprehensive – Each of the four points need to be focused on - not just focusing on one or two points. If one point is not working, then it will be hard for the other three points to achieve what they want to accomplish.

Incremental – Successful programs begin with the basics, that is , small visual changes. There are no quick-fixes to revitalization. Downtowns or Traditional Neighborhoods didn’t get in a state of disrepair overnight, so we need to begin with those baby steps.

Self-help - Nobody knows what’s better for the community and how to do it than the community itself. Success can only be formed by local leadership demonstrating community involvement and commitment to their own revitalization efforts.

Partnerships – Common goals of the revitalization efforts need to have public and private partnerships. The entire revitalization process shouldn’t fall entirely on either the private or public sectors. Both parties have roles to play in the revitalization efforts of downtowns.

Identifying and capitalizing on existing assets - Every community is unique and has its different strengths and opportunities on which they must capitalize. Main Street recognizes what makes each community different and uses that as its basis for success. These existing assets create authentic experiences that can’t be experienced anywhere else.

Quality – Quality is more important than quantity. For a program to be successful, quality must be applied to everything. A community’s revitalization efforts will have a much bigger impact if they achieve a few things very well instead of a lot of things only half done.

Change - Attitude is everything. Perception is reality. Change is an opportunity to do better. Main Street must change people’s attitudes and perceptions towards the downtown. The worst thing that a community can do is continue doing things the same way because that is the way that it has always been done.

Implementation – There is no more sitting around and thinking of ideas or talking about what needs to be done. Now is the time that volunteers take change, roll-up their sleeves and get to work. Visible results, success, and revitalization only comes from completing projects.

The Main Street program has been successful in both rural and urban communities of all sizes. The Main Street approach is not designed to generate immediate change. In order to succeed, a long-term revitalization effort requires attention to detail in every aspect of our own downtown.

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