The NC Main Street & Rural Planning Center works in regions, counties, cities, towns, downtown districts, and in designated North Carolina Main Street communities, to inspire placemaking through building asset-based economic development strategies that achieve measurable results such as investment, business growth, and jobs.

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Main Street



The Main Street America™ Program works to stimulate economic development within the context of historic preservation, using a comprehensive approach to downtown revitalization.  The Program helps to lead a powerful, grassroots network consisting of over 40 Coordinating Programs and over 1,200 neighborhoods and communities across the country committed to create high-quality places and to build stronger communities through preservation-based economic development. The NC Main Street & Rural Planning Center is the Main Street America coordinating program for the state.

2018 Annual Report

Annual Conference

Annual Conference

About the Annual NC Main Street Conference

The North Carolina Main Street Conference is an annual 3-day conference, held within a beautiful rural community of NC. The venue changes each year, as do the speakers, sponsors and class offerings.

The conference is open to anyone interested in learning about downtown economic development. Attendees gain knowledge from networking with other downtown enthusiast and from class offerings, facilitated by an impressive lineup of downtown professionals.

The NC Main Street Awards Ceremony showcases the top projects in the state while the NC Main Street Champions Ceremony recognizes citizens and groups that have made an impact in their community's downtown revitalization efforts.

The NC Annual Main Street Conference is one of the many educational offerings, provided by the NC Main Street & Rural Planning Center, a division within the state's NC Department of Commerce.


NC Main Street Annual Conference Website

Become An Exhibitor or Sponsor

Main Street Awards

Main Street Champions


Main Street

Main Street

NC Main Street

The NC Main Street & Rural Planning Center is the Main Street America coordinating program for the state. NC Main Street staff are charged by the NC Department of Commerce to facilitate downtown economic development, using the Main Street America Four Point Approach, in designated communities.  

NC Main Street staff provide:

  • Strategic downtown economic development planning and technical assistance
  • Main Street program guidance
  • Downtown development education and training

In addition to helping communities implement the Main Street Four Point Approach, NC Main Street holds an annual three-day conference, open to anyone interested in downtown revitalization.

The Main Street Approach 

Every community and commercial district is different, with its own distinctive assets and sense of place. The Main Street Approach™ offers community-based revitalization initiatives with a practical, adaptable framework for downtown transformation that is easily tailored to local conditions. The Main Street Approach helps communities get started with revitalization, and grows with them over time.

The Main Street Approach™ is centered around Transformation Strategies. A Transformation Strategy articulates a focused, deliberate path to revitalizing or strengthening a downtown or commercial district’s economy. A program’s work on Transformation Strategies should be organized around the Four Point Approach: Economic Vitality, Design, Promotion, and Organization. A revitalization program’s work – and its Transformation Strategies – need to be informed by a solid understanding of local and regional market data, local assets,  and inclusive community engagement.




The NC Main Street & Rural Planning Center's Downtown Associate Community program (DAC) launched in May 2015.   The DAC program is the first step towards the NC Main Sreet Designation.  State staff work with eligible communities to equip them with the tools to build a sustainable organizational foundation and conduct strategic economic development planning, which strengthens their downtown development efforts. 

The NC Main Street & Rural Planning Center selects communities every other year via a competitive application process.  North Carolina municipalities, with an identifiable traditional downtown business district and a certified population under 50,000 not already designated as a Main Street or Small Town Main Street community are eligible to apply to the Center for services under the Downtown Associate Community program.  Selected communities will receive three years of downtown revitalization technical assistance services from the NC Main Street & Rural Planning Center and may have the opportunity to move up to Main Street designation upon successful completion of the program. 

Important Dates


  • March 12: 10:45 am-Noon (Salisbury - During NC Main Street Conference)
  • April 9: 11 am–12:30 pm (Statesville - 349 N. Center Street - 2nd Floor)
  • April 11: 11 am–12:30 pm (Tarboro - 500 N. Main Street - Town Hall)


  • May 10, 2019 (by 5pm):  Applications Due
  • June 3-21, 2019:  Site Visits
  • July 1, 2019: (Week of):  Notifications Sent Out

Program Information

DAC Benefits and Requirements 


Sign Up To Attend



Contact Sherry Adams or Chuck Halsall



Current Main Street Communities

2018 Accredited Programs

The Main Street America accreditation process evaluates Main Street programs according to 10 performance standards and provides national accreditation to those that meet these standards. Congratulations to the communities below who met the criteria to receive this special designation. To learn more about the national accreditation process, click here.



New Bern







Kings Mountain

North Wilkesboro








Roanoke Rapids

Wake Forest


















Morehead City








Mount Airy

Spruce Pine


2018 Affiliate Programs

Main Street America™ Affiliates are programs that have demonstrated a commitment to achieving meaningful economic, social, physical, and organizational improvements in downtowns or neighborhood commercial districts. These are organizations that have committed to comprehensive revitalization and undertake ongoing efforts to achieve meaningful community outcomes.




Rocky Mount






Forest City







Bessemer City




 Current Small Town Main Street Communities


Mount Olive






West Jefferson


Spring Hope


Mount Gilead



Current Downtown Associate Community Communities







Main Street Solutions Fund

The purpose of the fund is to provide maximum support to small businesses in designated micropolitans located in Tier 2 and Tier 3 counties and/or in designated North Carolina Main Street communities. The grants are used to assist planning agencies and small businesses with efforts to revitalize downtowns by creating jobs, funding infrastructure improvements and rehabilitating buildings.

As of October 1, 2018, twenty-four communities have been awarded thirty-five Main Street Solutions Fund grants, totaling $4,614,475. For every $1 invested by the state, an additional $6.96 is anticipated to be invested by the local community. Sixty-four businesses will directly benefit from the Main Street Solutions grant program. Those businesses will create or retain a minimum of 758 permanent full-time and part-time jobs. The total projected investment is $37,483,677.

Additional Information

Fact Sheet - Main Street Solutions Fund


2017-2018 Grant Awards

Three communities have been awarded Main Street Solutions grant funds. For every $1 invested by the state an additional $3.18 will be invested by the local communities. Three businesses will directly benefit from the 2018 Main Street Solutions grant awards. Those businesses will create or retain a minimum of 48 full-time or part-time jobs. The total projected investment is $1,378,000. Total grants awarded to date for 2017 and 2018: $500,000

  • Morganton, $200,000
  • Warrenton, $100,000
  • Washington, $200,000


Guidelines and Application


For further information on the Main Street Solutions Fund grant program, contact:

Liz Parham
Director, NC Main Street & Rural Planning Center

Program Acceptance

Program Acceptance

Pathway to Main Street Designation:

The NC Main Street & Rural Planning Center selects communities every other year for the Downtown Associate Community program (DAC), via a competitive application process.  Our next application round will be held in 2019.

The Downtown Associate Community program is the process through which North Carolina communities may become affiliated with the NC Main Street program.  The Downtown Associate Community program is based on the National Main Street Center's downtown revitalization model using the Main Street Approach™.  State staff work with eligible communities to equip them with the tools to build a sustainable organizational foundation and conduct strategic economic development planning, which strengthens their downtown development efforts. 

For more information about the NC Main Street Program, Liz Parham






Liz Parham, CMSM
Director, NC Main Street and Rural Planning Center
4346 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC 27699-4346
Office: (919) 814-4658
Cell:  (919) 805-2067


Main Street Staff

Naomi Riley
Coordinator, Downtown Services
4346 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC 27699-4346
Office: (919) 814-4813
Cell: (984) 222-5292

Sherry Adams, CMSM
Coordinator, Downtown Programming and Technical Assistance
48 Grove Street, Asheville, NC 27835
Cell:  (828) 747-8218

Charles Halsall
Coordinator, Downtown Programming and Technical Assistance
105 Pactolus Hwy., Greenville, NC 27835
Cell: (252) 214-5132

Rural Planning



Part of the NC Main Street & Rural Planning Center, the Rural Planning program works with municipalities, county governments, and other organizations in rural areas to provide economic development planning assistance through strategic planning and implementation services, technical support, and training. Such services help communities prepare for and respond to potential economic growth opportunities in ways that improve quality of life and prosperity, build community capacity, and maintain the character of rural areas.

In 2014, the NC General Assembly created eight Prosperity Zones (G.S. 143B-28.1) intended to serve as one-stop locations to provide citizens and businesses with the ability to interact with multiple state agencies, and to encourage collaboration between agencies. In 2016, the General Assembly directed the Department of Commerce to locate a planner in each Prosperity Zone with representatives of other state agencies. A Prosperity Zone planner works in each of the regions: Western (Sylva), Northwest (North Wilkesboro), Piedmont-Triad (Winston-Salem), Southwest (Albemarle), North Central (Clayton), Sandhills / South Central (Fayetteville), Northeast (Greenville), and Southeast (Jacksonville). Other Rural Planning program staff are based in Asheville, Raleigh, and Wilmington.



The Rural Planning program provides the following services and assistance to municipalities, county governments, and other organizations in rural areas of North Carolina:

Strategic Economic Development Planning & Implementation Services

  • One-day strategic planning workshops
  • Two-day economic development assessments
  • Five-year strategic plan and program development
  • Implementation plan development
  • Resource identification

Technical Support

  • Assistance with a wide range of community and economic development needs (planning for high impact areas, development policy review, etc.) 
  • Community-specific assistance (geospatial analysis & mapping to evaluate economic opportunities; developing solutions that address particular economic development issues or needs, etc.)

Training & Education

  • Workshops and other training opportunities
  • Research and information-sharing (best practices, success stories, etc.)
  • Community capacity building


Other Rural Planning Publications and Resources

The Rural Planning program (and its predecessors) created the following tool(s) to aid local governments:

Consistent with its mission, the NC Department of Commerce sponsored preparation of a guidebook on integrating healthy planning principles into local comprehensive plans. The document has statewide applicability and provides technical assistance to municipalities and counties in solving local planning problems. Its focus is on multiple dimensions of healthy community planning, but it goes beyond that basic task to provide a resource guide for towns, cities, and counties in preparing a variety of local plans in addition to comprehensive plans.




Darren Rhodes, CPM
Rural Planning Program Administrator
Community Economic Development Planner, Piedmont-Triad Prosperity Zone

525 Vine Street, Suite 240
Winston-Salem, NC 27101

Cell:       (336) 618-5117


Lee Padrick
Chief Planner
Community Economic Development Planner, Northeast Prosperity Zone

105 Pactolus Hwy. (NC 33)
Greenville, NC 27835 (physical address)

PO Box 1587
Greenville, NC 27835 (mailing address)

Cell:       (252) 565-2060


Amy Suggs
Community Economic Development Planner, Southeast Prosperity Zone

1099 Gum Branch Road
Jacksonville, NC 28540

Cell: 910-530-0278



Bruce Naegelen
Community Economic Development Planner, North Central Prosperity Zone

8998 US 70 Hwy Business West, Suite 100
Clayton, NC 27520

Cell:       (984) 365-0279

Read Bruce’s Profile

Grace Lawrence
Community Economic Development Planner, Sandhills (South Central) Prosperity Zone

NCWorks Career Center
414 Ray Avenue
Fayetteville, NC 28301

Cell:       (910) 391-1298



Jeff Emory
Community Economic Development Planner, Southwest Prosperity Zone

615 Concord Road
Albemarle, NC 28001

Office:    (704) 983-4384
Cell:       (704) 984-3666

Read Jeff’s Profile



Ann Bass
ARC Community Economic Development Planner, Western Prosperity Zone

253 Webster Road
Sylva, NC 28779

Cell:       (828) 508-0107

Read Ann’s Profile



Wesley Barker
ARC Community Economic Development Planner, Northwest Prosperity Zone

801 Statesville Road
North Wilkesboro, NC 28659

Cell:       (336) 907-0284



Will Best
Coordinator, Special Projects

4346 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, NC 27699-4346

Office:    (919) 814-4676


Glen Locascio
GIS Analyst

48 Grove Street
Asheville, NC 28801

Office:    (828) 251-6200, ext. 224



Karen Smith, AICP
Coordinator, Rural Solutions

48 Grove Street
Asheville, NC 28801

Office:    (828) 251-6200, ext. 239
Cell:       (828) 747-1585



Mark Zeigler, AICP
Community Economic Development Planner

127 Cardinal Drive Extension
Wilmington, NC 28405

Office:    (910) 796-7268
Cell:       (910) 632-4011




Check Back Soon

For Designated Main Street Communities

Important Dates

Important Dates

Training Calendar

Sign Up

PDF Calendar


January 4, 2019 - Program Assessments (MS/STMS)

June 28, 2019 - Annual Agreements (MS/STMS)

July 31, 2019 - Program Statistics (MS/STMS)

October 2, 2019 - Award Nominations (MS/STMS)

October 2, 2019 - Champion Nominations (MS)

Grants Partners Resources Design Service Request

Design Service Request

About the Design Program

Since March of 2016, the North Carolina Main Street Program has partnered with UNCG’s Interior Architecture Department and its Center for Community-Engaged Design to provide design assistance to the 94 Main Street communities across the State. So far, thirteen undergraduate and four graduate Main Street Fellows working with Professor Jo Leimenstoll have completed designs for over 105 facade rehabs and 10 upper story apartment conversions in 44 NC towns.

Design Request

This service is a benefit to our designated NCMS & STMS communities only. Downtown Associate Communities cannot use this service until they move up to NCMS designation. Speculative projects are not accepted. Only submit projects where the property owner(s) is highly motivated to implement the design. You need to work closely with your property/business owner(s) to complete the form.

To begin the process, please email Sherry Adams.  Sherry will send you the form and instructions.

Annual Agreement



Program Assessment Survey

Due:  January 4, 2019 by 5pm

The Program Assessment Survey is a tool we use to review your annual progress as a designated NC Main Street community.   Each community will receive a Program Report Card, based off of your Assessment.  Please do not wait until the last minute to do your Assessment. We cannot stress enough that each Assessment be accurate.  If questioned, you must have documentation to support your submission.   Failure to submit the Assessment could lead to inactive status for your community.

  • Below is the Program Assessment Survey link for calendar year:  January 1 - December 31, 2018 
  • Assessments MUST be completed in their entirety  (This cannot be stressed enough)
  • Complete the Budget and Salary survey section based on YOUR CURRENT budget:   January 1 - December 31, 2019  OR  July 1, 2018 - June 30, 2019 
  • Submit the COMPLETE assessment through email as a PDF, all in one document  (Individual attachments will not be accepted - scan everything to create ONE pdf file)
  • January 4 is a HARD DEADLINE


Feel free to call or email our staff.


  • The NC Department of Commerce does not use Dropbox or Google Docs, therefore you cannot submit it through those sites as we will not get it
  • If your file is too large to email, email us.  We will send you a link, to upload the pdf to our Commerce sharefile system

Thank you for all your efforts in 2018 to move your downtown forward.


Main Street Program Assessment Form

Small Town Main Street Program Assessment Form



Statistics Reporting

Instructional Video

Portal Login

Nominations - Awards

Nominations - Champions