"Reinvestment is on the Rise” according to recent figures released by the National Main Street Center. Each year, the National Main Street Center collects statistical information on economic activity in local Main Street programs throughout the country. A few months ago, the Center released the 2012 statistics. These estimates are based on cumulative statistics gathered from 1980 to December 31, 2012 for all accredited and designated Main Street communities nationwide. More than $55 billion has been reinvested in physical improvements in Main Street communities since the program’s inception, and 236,201 buildings have been rehabilitated. Yearly figures for reinvestment in Main Street communities remained pretty steady from 2011 to 2012, but the net gain in jobs in 2012 was almost double from the year before at 24,700 new jobs. Welcome news indeed in today’s economy.
Economic benefit studies, annual reports, and statistical analyses--all tell a pretty compelling story about the economic benefits of preservation. But what really tells the story are the buildings and the people who live or operate businesses in them. Check out the video below, created by Main Street Iowa about the state’s 26-year-old Main Street program and its successful challenge grant program.
Sure, you will hear inspiring statistics (every dollar of federal money has leveraged more than $7 in private investment) and listen to welcome praise from mayors and senators. But this video goes well beyond the dollar signs and employment statistics (as impressive as they may be) to get to the real root of the success of the Main Street program--the towns and the people who live there. A determined little guy, maybe three years old, helps his father clean up an empty storefront; a contractor talks lovingly about the buildings he restores; and dogs drool and grandmas dance at a downtown festival. That is the power of Main Street.