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PlaceEconomics recently completed economic impact studies for the state Main Street programs in New Mexico, North Carolina, and Michigan. New Mexico and North Carolina established Main Street programs in the early to mid-1980s, while Michigan formed its program 10 years ago. All have strong track records of rehabilitating historic buildings, attracting businesses, and creating jobs. Those who work with the statewide programs and local Main Street districts know firsthand that they are extraordinarily effective economic development efforts. This new research provides hard numbers to back that up.

Highlights from the reports:

  • Main Street attracts and supports new businesses: 3,200 in New Mexico over 28 years and 4,700 in North Carolina over 33 years.
  • Those businesses create jobs: 11,400 in New Mexico and 18,000 in North Carolina.
  • Main Street spurs investment: More than $1 billion in New Mexico and $2 billion in North Carolina.
  • Main Street leverages private-sector dollars: For every $1 the New Mexico MainStreet program spent, the private sector spent $44.50. In North Carolina, that number rises to $127 of private-sector investment for every $1 from the state Main Street program.
  • Main Street pays for itself: In New Mexico, private-sector investment in MainStreet buildings adds $5.1 million in local tax revenues each year. In North Carolina, each year’s state sales tax revenue from just that year’s net new businesses in Main Street districts provides the state treasury five times the revenue of what the entire Main Street program costs.

But even these numbers don’t tell the entire story of Main Street’s success. Main Street also leads to increased community pride, greater commitment to historic preservation, and greater support for locally owned businesses.

Download the reports to learn more:

In the News

Michigan Prosperity Agenda: A Conversation from the National Main Streets Conference in Detroit!
(May 28, 2014)
“It’s not every day that more than 1,300 people from throughout the nation come to see the exciting things happening in Detroit, but that’s exactly what happened when the Motor City, for the first time ever, hosted the 2014 National Main Streets Conference at the GM Renaissance Center. And the Prosperity Agenda radio show was there to catch all the action. This month’s Prosperity Agenda radio show on News/Talk 760 WJR hit the road and was taped in the conference’s exhibition hall on May 18… Cara Bertron is the director of PlaceEconomics’ Rightsizing Cities Initiative, which works to strengthen neighborhoods in legacy cities. She discusses a model they have developed that uses 77 different variables to measure the health and potential of neighborhoods.”
Michigan Prosperity Agenda

Lessons From Downtown: Ferndale, Detroit and a Nation of Main Street Stories
(May 22, 2014)
“‘I’ve heard all of the excuses people have made for not coming,’ Donovan Rypkema, principal of Washington D.C.-based PlaceEconomics says to a large crowd in Cobo Center. ‘Thank you for putting stereotypes and conventional wisdom aside and showing up.’ Rypkema was speaking to more than 1,300 downtown development professionals, volunteers and thought leaders from communities throughout the country who are converging on Detroit this week for the first National Main Street Conference in Detroit… Over the last 30 years, the National Main Street Center has tracked $59.6 billion in reinvestment in physical improvements from both public and private sources in their communities, with a net gain of 115,381 businesses and 502,728 jobs. In 2013, every dollar invested in Main Street communities resulted in $33.28 of economic impact, making it most effective downtown revitalization effort in the country.”

Michigan Main Street Program Provides Economic Boost for Participating Communities
(May 19, 2014)
“The economic benefits of the Michigan Main Street Center were unveiled during the National Main Streets Conference, the country’s leading downtown revitalization conference in Detroit today. Speaker Donovan Rypkema of PlaceEconomics shared the positive news with an engaged crowd of about 1,300 city planners, community revitalization professionals and volunteers… ‘In the past decade, Michigan has seen the ups and downs of the national and state economy,’ Rypkema said. ‘Through it all, its historic downtowns – with the support of the Main Street program – have persevered and prospered. The words Main Street may evoke images of warm summer nights at a downtown festival, but they also should signify real return on investment and renewed community commitment.'”
Digital Journal

Big Data: A New Frontier in Historic Preservation?
(March 4, 2014)
“The world of Big Data allows us to develop and implement new survey tools that use smartphones and tablets to catalog resources… In Muncie, Ind., Donovan Rypkema and Cara Bertron of PlaceEconomics piloted a new analytic tool called Relocal. Using the tool, a team of volunteers traveled Muncie’s streets and used mobile devices to collect property information and characterize the state of buildings and neighborhoods. Once assembled, the Relocal data was used to create a strategic plan with recommendations for fostering stable, sustainable neighborhoods throughout the city.”
Preservation Leadership Forum

Straight talk on preservation and rightsizing cities: Preservation Provocateur Cara Bertron
(March 1, 2014)
“Delivering straight talk about rightsizing cities, GRAY AREA’s Preservation Provocateur Cara Bertron uses phrases not often heard in preservation circles: ‘strategic demolition,’ ‘land banks,’ ‘pragmatism,’ ‘preservation bubble.’ …The rightsizing movement – reshaping a city’s physical fabric to meet current and anticipated population – is both ‘politically fraught’ and in its formative stages, Bertron says, so the time is now for activists to make sure preservation is at the table… Her brand of pragmatism extends to accepting that not every older building is a candidate for preservation. ‘We have to acknowledge that strategic demolition is okay,’ she says. ‘We also have to ask hard questions about market demand … it does not always make sense to rehabilitate a building.'”
Gray Area

Pro-demolition preservationists? Cara Bertron explores rightsizing and preservation
(February 14, 2014)
“‘Our job as preservationists is to argue for rightsizing,’ Cara Bertron contended before a crowd of preservationists at University of the Arts Wednesday evening. That means getting behind targeted demolition in some areas, helping build on the best resources of older neighborhoods, and forging some unconventional partnerships… Preservationists like to think they’re expert at ‘managing change.’ Bertron argues it’s time to put those tools to work in new ways, engaging in community conversations and working with public agencies to help make critical decisions about the fate of historic neighborhoods. In turn, Bertron believes, preservationists may be better able to save aging but valuable assets in legacy cities.”

Report: New Mexico Main Street Program Works
(February 5, 2014)
“There are 27 MainStreet programs throughout New Mexico and since its inception, $1 billion has been invested in the commercial districts for restoration and development. But often missed from the effort is the economic activity that happens after the construction is completed… Now the program has tried to document that with an economic impact report released last week by Donovan D. Rypkema, principal of PlaceEconomics… Rypkema was able to conclude that the program is partly responsible for expanding the jobs base in many of the small communities. ‘There’s significantly greater job creation in restoration than new construction… And these are not jobs that can be shipped to Indonesia next month, they have to stay in New Mexico.'”
Santa Fe New Mexican

Historical District Too Big To Tackle All at Once, in Expert’s Opinion
(January 25, 2014)
“Rypkema believes historic preservation is, in and of itself, sustainable development. He pointed to numerous studies and examples from several U.S. cities he says back up his claim. He said rehabilitating historic buildings creates more jobs and income than new construction and many types of manufacturing and it often raises property values.”
The Montana Standard

NM Above National Average for Main Street Program Growth
(December 12, 2013)
“The New Mexico Main Street program, over 28 years, has leveraged millions of dollars in private investments and created several thousand jobs in the state, according to the report released Thursday morning at the Albuquerque Hispano Chamber of Commerce… The study was done by Donovan Rypkema of PlaceEconomics of Washington, D.C… The more telling numbers that show the success of the program, Rypkema said, are those that show the number of businesses opening in Main Street zones is more than double the national average and for every dollar put into the program, the state sees a $44.50 return on its investment.”
Albuquerque Business First

Read more news at In the News.