FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Fifteen New Communities Join Christie Administration’s Main Street Initiative 

DCA Program Promotes Historic & Economic Redevelopment of Traditional Business Districts

TRENTON, N.J. - The New Jersey Department of Community Affairs (DCA) Commissioner Richard E. Constable, III today announced that 15 new communities were officially selected to join Main Street New Jersey’s (MSNJ) Associate Tier program.  Municipalities that successfully applied in 2014 include Allentown, Asbury Park, Bloomfield, Chester Borough, Denville, Highlands, Linden, Medford, Metuchen, Phillipsburg, Plainfield, Rutherford, Springfield, Summit, and Trenton (Downtown). 


"The Main Street approach facilitates locally-based economic sustainability of traditional historic business districts here in New Jersey," said Constable. "These new communities are taking the necessary steps to redevelop their towns and to restore pride in their residents."


Main Street New Jersey is a comprehensive revitalization program that promotes the historic and economic redevelopment of traditional business districts in New Jersey. The program builds on the Main Street Approach™ that was developed by the National Trust’s National Main Street Center in 1980 to assist downtown revitalization efforts nationwide. Communities participating in Main Street New Jersey receive valuable technical support and training to assist in improving their Main Streets. The program employs a four-point approach that focuses on:


               Building a strong, local Main Street organization that is well-represented and funded by stakeholders such as residents, merchants, civic groups, and bankers;

               Restructuring the district’s economics by engaging in such activities as recruiting new businesses, converting unused space for new uses, and sharpening the competitiveness of merchants;

               Enhancing the visual appearance, attractiveness and traffic management of the business district; and

               Promoting the district through festivals, retail events and marketing campaign to encourage consumer traffic.


This selection, at the Associate Tier level, formally acknowledges the continued relationship between the DCA and the selected communities as efforts are started and/or continued to improve the quality of life and commerce in their downtowns.  Neighborhoods that excel at this level are given the opportunity to progress and become Main Street Designated Programs. This advancement requires additional local commitment, but also provides a significant increase in program services.


"MSNJ looks forward to working with both public and private stakeholders, as well as, leaders in each community to provide technical assistance and training in support of their efforts to revitalize and manage their traditional commercial districts, regardless of scale," noted Jef Buehler, State Coordinator of Main Street New Jersey and Improvement District Programs at the DCA.


Every two years the DCA accepts applications and designates selected communities to join the program. These communities receive valuable technical support and training to assist in restoring their Main Streets.  Communities can apply to the designated Traditional or Partner programs or be selected into the new Associate program.


While not a fully designated Main Street program, communities must meet the requirements of the National Trust Main Street Center. The new Associate Program offers an opportunity for communities that are just starting out with downtown revitalization efforts, or that may wish to eventually utilize the Main Street Approach™.  A core feature of the service is access to training by state and national downtown development experts. The new tiered program provides selected communities with the opportunity to learn about the best practices in the field and to network with peers from around the state.


The benefits of entering the Main Street program include protecting and strengthening the existing tax base, as well as, the focus on organization, development, growth and awareness in the initial year. If the associate programs show signs of success the communities will have an opportunity to move up to traditional designation where higher levels of local assistance are available including design/architectural services and technical assistance to individual businesses with the Main Street district.


Applications are competitive and require evidence of strong public and private partnership.  Applicants qualify for the program based on how well they fit into the following six categories: Public and Private Sector Understanding, Cooperation, & Financial Capacity; Local Organizational Readiness; Physical & Historic Character of Core Built Environment & Efforts to Preserve and Enhance; Need for Downtown Revitalization and Potential for Effecting Positive Change; Municipal Government Profile/Past Efforts; Community Profile.


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