The N.C. Small Town Main Street program is under the umbrella of the NC Main Street Center within the Department of Commerce's Rural Development Division. The Small Town Main Street (STMS) program follows the Four-Point Approach methodology that was created by the National Main Street Center. The Four-Point Approach incorporates organization, design, promotion, and economic restructuring in it's comprehensive process for downtown revitalization.
The STMS program began in the eastern part of the state in 2003, and it was extended to western North Carolina in 2007. The STMS program is designed to provide downtown revitalization assistance to small towns (populations less than 7,500), which lack the financial resources to employ a downtown manager, a requirement of the N.C. Main Street program.
Through a competitive application process, towns are selected to participate in the STMS program. These towns are given two-years of concentrated monthly on-site and any time on-call technical services by the STMS staff, following the Four-Point approach. Participants may remain in the program indefinitely; however, the level of service provided by the program staff is reduced to “as necessary” assistance and visits after year two. (Communities not accepted into the program can still receive assistance. This assistance will be provided as scheduling allows.)
The North Carolina Small Town Main Street staff provides many services to its participating communities. With the exception of reimbursement for travel-related expenses, including mileage and meals and an economic data report, services are free. The following is a list of services available from the Small Town Main Street staff. If communities would like additional assistance they should contact the staff to discuss any specific needs.
Commitment Required by Designated STMS Communities
The Town will:
- Actively participate in the Small Town Main Street program for an initial period of no less than twelve (12) months beginning July 1, 2014;
- Designate a contact person for the technical assistance team to coordinate with in order to provide continuity and leadership for the effort;
- Assist in organizing a volunteer committee and working subcommittees that are representative of the entire community to provide focus for the program;
- Support the volunteer committee and will assist the committee and team in conducting a community assessment and community projects as well as any other necessary activities;
- Cooperate with the technical team and committees to develop a community vision and plan of action;
- Implement the plan of action to the fullest extent possible;
- Develop and actively participate in local and regional partnerships and networks and share resources and information gained through the program with other communities in the region;
- Agree to pay for an economic data report (the report expense is generally $150-$200);
- Agree to reimburse the State of North Carolina monthly for staff travel-related expenses (mileage and meals) estimated at $3,000-$5,000 annually;
- Agree to join the National Main Street Center as an associate member by October 1, 2014 and remain an associate member as long as the Town continues to participate in the N.C. Main Street Small Town program and pay dues as required to the National Main Street Center, currently established at $250 a year and
- Agree to send a representative to N.C. Main Street Basic Training and the annual N.C. Main Street Conference when scheduled.
Examples of Services Available to Designated STMS Communities
MS staff will:
- Assist community in creating shared community visions for their future;
- Offer design assistance to property and business owners;
- Assist in creating functional committees with leadership skills;
- Assist the town in becoming more engaged in deciding their destiny as a small town;
- Coordinate/facilitate regional workshops/round tables;
- Work toward assisting the community in increasing levels of reinvestment in their downtown and
- Help the community to renew civic involvement by identifying partners and engaging these partners in the process.