How It Works

How the Main Street Program Works

The Main Street Approach is a community-driven, comprehensive strategy used to revitalize downtown and neighborhood business districts throughout the United States. It is a common-sense way to address the variety of issues and problems that challenge traditional business districts.


Design means getting Main Street into top physical shape. Capitalizing on its best assets such as historic buildings and the traditional downtown layout is just part of the story. An inviting atmosphere can be created through window displays, parking areas, signs, sidewalks, street lights, and landscaping; good design conveys a visual message about what Main Street is and what it has to offer.


Promotion means selling the image and promise of Main Street to all prospects. By marketing the district’s unique characteristics through advertising, retail promotional activities, special events, and marketing campaigns an effective promotion strategy forges a positive image to shoppers, investors, new businesses and visitors.


Organization means getting everyone working towards common goals. The common-sense formula of a volunteer-driven program and an organizational structure of board and committees assisting professional management can ease the difficult work of building consensus and cooperation among the varied groups that have a stake in the district.


Economic Vitality means finding new or better purposes for Main Street enterprises. Helping existing downtown businesses expand and recruiting new ones, a successful Main Street converts unused space into productive property and sharpens the competitiveness of its businesses.

For communities or organizations interested in following the Main Street or Elm Street model or for questions about state designated Main Street or Elm Street programs, please contact PA Downtown Center staff.


PA Downtown Center can assist with the following aspects as outlined in the Keystone Communities Program Designation Application Requirements:

  • Five-Year Strategy
  • Organizational Sustainability Plan
  • Market Assessment and Image Development Reports
  • Historic Preservation – sample resolution
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