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Posted on: September 13, 2019

What would a Main Street designation mean for Hamilton?

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The City of Hamilton applied to become a designated Main Street Community through the Texas Historical Commission this July.  The Commission will announce the designated communities in October.  Check out these frequently asked questions about the Main Street Program.

What is the Main Street Program?

The Main Street program is a nationally recognized and economically proven method for revitalization of historic downtowns across America. Communities of all sizes nationwide participate. Main Street is a trademarked program of the National Main Street Center, a subsidiary of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

The Main Street program that was rolled out in the 1970’s to address the realities of the state of downtowns at that time continues today and is one of the most impactful economic development models for small, rural towns. 

The Main Street Approach was developed with the understanding that small, incremental improvements, when taken together, provide momentum for long-term economic transformation and improved quality of life in a community.

Can Hamilton become a Main Street Community without going through the formal application process?

No.  Since the approach and the brand are trademarked, a community may not operate or call itself a Main Street program or community unless it has been designated as such through the Texas Historical Commission, and after applying for the designation through the formal application process.

Why did Hamilton apply for the Main Street Program?

A vision for the future begins with planning and enhancing existing assets.  Through the Hamilton Economic Development Corporation strategic planning process, community assets were inventoried.  One of Hamilton’s greatest assets is its historic downtown building stock.  Main Street leverages the value of historic buildings, ensuring that they are kept in use, contributing to the future.  Downtown Hamilton has an array of historic buildings that connect us to the past.  They tell us who we are and where we came from, and that is what sets us apart from other communities. 

Hamilton’s downtown is still vibrant; virtually all the buildings are occupied with local retail and office establishments.  City and county government continue to conduct their primary business downtown as well.  There are, however, improvements that would reinforce this vitality and ensure the preservation of downtown Hamilton’s function and unique character. Some examples include updated building façades and awnings, lighting, signage, new sidewalks, pedestrian friendly crosswalks and alleyways, beautification and greening projects, murals, parking, handrails, business development and entrepreneurship, and downtown events.  These strategies require people, planning, vision, time, and resources to achieve.  The Main Street Approach has a proven track record of success and real return on investment for downtown revitalization, which makes the City of Hamilton a perfect candidate.

Does Main Street place restrictions on property owners?

No.  Main Street empowers communities to set their own destinies. While revitalization is challenging work, the Main Street program offers a road-map for locally-owned, locally-driven prosperity. Across the country, thousands of communities have used the Main Street Approach to transform their economies, leverage local leadership, and improve overall quality of life.

What benefits would Hamilton receive?

There are many benefits to participating in the Main Street program. A staff of nine includes professionals who provide technical assistance directly to local programs, and local property and business owners.  Programs pay a nominal annual fee to participate and receive a continual range of services from the TMSP and additional benefits, which includes:

  • A full range of design services from a professionally-trained TMSP staff that includes licensed architects to help downtown property owners undertake effective rehabilitation, restoration and adaptive re-use projects
  • Additional, as-needed technical consultation with business and property owners on a variety of topics
  • Strategic planning, program capacity building and organizational management for the Main Street organization
  • Individualized, on-site training for Main Street managers, boards and other Main Street participants
  • Two statewide, Main Street-specific trainings/professional development opportunities annually for any volunteers or staff of participant communities, plus an annual downtown revitalization conference in partnerships with the Texas Downtown Association
  • Product development, such as design reports for specific properties, strategic planning reports to help drive the Plan of Work and other technical reports based upon the community’s individual needs
  • Comprehensive city planning and economic development technical assistance through Main Street and its affiliated Town Square Initiative
  • Participation in a Main Street listserv and online resource library for professional development and assistance with downtown issues
  • Technical assistance on resources for funding projects and furthering economic development in the Main Street district
  • Comprehensive resource reports for new programs to drive a multi-year plan of action
  • Access for non-entitlement communities to a Main Street-specific pool of improvement funds through the Texas Capital Fund of the Texas Department of Agriculture.

How is a Main Street Program beneficial to the entire community?

  • Downtown is a symbol of community economic health, local quality of life, pride and community history.  These are all factors in residential, industrial, commercial, and professional recruitment.
  • A vital Downtown retains and creates jobs, which also means a stronger tax base.  Long-term revitalization establishes capable businesses that use public services and provide tax revenues for the community.  This lessens the burden on local government and the community's taxpayers as well.
  • Downtown is a good incubator for new small businesses, the building blocks of a healthy economy.  Main Street helps us to create the environment for a strong business community.
  • A vibrant Downtown area reduces sprawl by concentrating retail in one area and uses community resources wisely, such as infrastructure, tax dollars, and land.
  • A revitalized Downtown provides an important civic forum, where members of the community can congregate. Parades, special events and celebrations are held and reinforce an intangible sense of community.

What approach does the Main Street Program use for downtown revitalization?

The program uses The Main Street Four Point Approach™.  The Texas Main Street Program provides services to designated Main Street communities in these focus areas as part of a holistic Main Street revitalization process.

  • Economic Vitality focuses on capital, incentives, and other economic and financial tools to assist new and existing businesses, catalyze property development, and create supportive environment for entrepreneurs and innovators that drive local economies.
  • Design supports a community’s transformation by enhancing the physical and visual assets that set the downtown apart.
  • Promotion positions downtown as the center of the community and hub of economic activity, while creating a positive image that showcases a community’s unique characteristics.
  • Organization involves creating a strong foundation for a sustainable revitalization effort, including cultivating partnerships, community involvement, and resources.

The Main Street four-point framework has a proven record in over 2,000 communities of creating new jobs and businesses while also rehabilitating historic buildings and revitalizing thousands of historic downtowns.

Does the Main Street Program replace the Economic Development Corporation or Chamber of Commerce?

No.  While the Main Street Program compliments the mission of both the EDC and Chamber of Commerce, it does not replace them.

The mission of the Hamilton Economic Development Corporation is to promote and enable community and economic development in Hamilton. The Main Street Program is an economic development tool focused on a key community asset. The Commercial Improvement Grants, Business Retention and Expansion Program, Keep Hamilton Beautiful, Community Improvement Grants and other programs that the EDC administers will remain the same.  The EDC will work closely with the Main Street Program providing financial resources for downtown planning and projects.

The mission of the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce is to promote and encourage local trade, community improvements, positive consumer-business relationships and other progressive aspects that help to benefit the growth of Hamilton.  The Hamilton Chamber of Commerce is a supporter of the Main Street Program and its goals for economic development and downtown revitalization.

How much does the Main Street Program cost?

Participating programs pay an annual fee of $575 to participate and receive a continual range of services from the Texas Main Street Program.  The Main Street Four Point Approach takes people, planning, vision, time, and resources to achieve.  The City of Hamilton is required by the Texas Historical Commission to hire a full-time Main Street Director that will work closely with the City and EDC on specific downtown goals for at least the first three years of the program to ensure success.  The Hamilton Economic Development Corporation has allocated funds for downtown revitalization projects.

What is the timeline for program implementation?

The City of Hamilton Main Street Application was submitted in July 2019.  The state committee will review all applications on October 4, 2019.  If accepted, the official announcement will be on October 30, 2019 at the Texas Downtown Conference held in Georgetown, Texas.  During the months of November-December, the Texas Historical Commission would consult with the local program on hiring and program creation.  The City of Hamilton would officially enter the program in January 2020.

Who can I contact with questions and ideas regarding the Main Street Program?

Please contact Sarah Bauman at the Hamilton Economic Development Corporation: edc@hamiltontexas.com, or (254) 386-5954.  We welcome your feedback and ideas!




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