Downtown Delaware is a resource center within the Delaware Economic Development Office (DEDO) that focuses on downtown revitalization issues, with particular emphasis on business development, vacancy reduction, and proactive planning for selection and placement of retail goods and services in commercial business districts throughout Delaware. Following after the National Trust Main Street model, additional areas of focus include organization, design and promotion.
The resource center's mission is to provide Delaware's historic downtowns, communities, and small businesses with tools to revitalize their commercial districts, increase entrepreneurism and innovation, and enhance quality of place.
Downtown Delaware offers technical assistance and training to staff and volunteers within the eight designated Main Street towns, representatives of Delaware Commercial District Affiliate communities (including seven USDA "Recipient" Towns), and to downtown stakeholders statewide, including property owners, and small businesses, including women and minority business owners.
Recently, the DEDO was awarded a USDA Rural Community Development Initiative (RCDI) grant of $234,643 that allowed DEDO to expand technical assistance to seven rural towns in Kent and Sussex Counties over a three year timeframe. These "USDA Recipient Towns" include Bridgeville, Delmar, Harrington, Laurel, Milford, Millsboro, and Milton. All communities statewide are invited to participate in services provided to these towns. , performing arts, loca
What is the Main Street program?
Main Street is a program of economic development whereby communities build on their downtown's unique character and assets.
Some of these assets include:
- historic assets (buildings, landmarks, public areas)
- natural assets (such as waterways, beaches);
- cultural assets (such as colleges/universities or a core of museums or arts venues);
- political assets (such as is found in a capitol city or county seat.)
In all cases, a significant core of historic buildings must be present in the Main Street town, and preservation of these buildings must be an ongoing ethic within the community. Each Main Street program is volunteer-driven, organized via a board of directors, and coordinated by a paid manager. Volunteers represent all interests in the downtown, such as merchants, property owners, community organizations, residents, and the City/Town.
How Does the Program Work?
The Main Street Four-Point "Approach" (attached) is a comprehensive strategy in which the four points of Organization, Design, Economic Restructuring and Promotion are integrated into a comprehensive program designed to draw upon local opportunities and build community self-reliance for downtown development. The philosophy and the Eight Guiding Principles (attached) behind this methodology make it an effective tool for community-based, grassroots revitalization efforts.
Nationally, the Main Street Approach has been successful in communities of all sizes, both rural and urban. Certified Main Street towns have met The National Main Street Center's Ten Criteria for Recognition. (See attached.) www.mainst.org
Through effective planning and concentration on each of the four points, each town adapts the Main Street approach to fit the specific needs of its downtown and thus ensure that the program's activities are designed to best take advantage of the community's strengths and resources.