It was the 1980’s and large shopping malls and shopping centers were dotting the landscape. Downtown store fronts were empty and historic buildings starting to decay. Recognizing a need community leaders came around a table to focus their efforts on helping to revitalize older and historic commercial districts. Their efforts paid off and today, the National Main Street Center stands strong with a network of more than 1,600 neighborhoods and communities across the U.S., both rural and urban, who are united in their commitment to preservation-based economic development.
Ohio can boast she has 23 accredited Main Street communities and 28 downtown affiliates. These agencies use the resources of Heritage Ohio as Main Street America’s coordinating program for the state. Since 1998, Ohio Main Street Programs have leveraged over $1.44 billion in private investment and $1.47 million in public investment, creating 1,303 net new businesses with nearly 10,000 net new jobs in the local economies across Ohio.
The Main Street Approach to revitalizing local economies is proven by the volumes of success stories shared every year as well as the statistics directly connected to the power of local downtown organizations, like Cambridge Main Street.
According to State of Main, an annual publication by Main Street America, over $70.25 billion has been reinvested in local communities across the U.S. since 1980, thanks to the Main Street Approach to economic development.
“So much of what we do is intangible. We foster pride of place, celebrate diverse history and culture, and cultivate leadership from within our own communities. While those things are vitally important, our work also directly advances local economic prosperity” (State of Main, 2017, p. 9)
The Main Street Approach to economic development is one of the most powerful economic development tools in the nation today. What sets it apart? A focus on historic preservation. Preservation strategies create jobs, increase property values, prevent suburban sprawl, conserve resources, attract investments, save public dollars, attract visitors, and generally increase the quality of life for entire communities.