Fifty-one North Carolina towns achieve Main Street America status

Fifty-one North Carolina communities have received Main Street America accreditation status for 2024, according to the N.C. Department of Commerce. The National Main Street America Center and its state coordinating partner, the N.C. Main Street & Rural Planning Center, announced the list of accredited programs on Wednesday to recognize their commitment to preservation-based economic development and community revitalization.

“I am so proud of our Main Street communities for pursuing excellence in all facets of economic development,” N.C. Commerce Secretary Machelle Baker Sanders said in a statement. “These communities have worked hard to achieve lasting economic prosperity by honoring diversity, inclusivity, local leadership, community engagement, storytelling and historic preservation.”

The following N.C. Main Street communities have earned accreditation for their 2023 performance: Albemarle, Asheboro, Belmont, Brevard, Cherryville, Clinton, Concord, Elizabeth City, Elkin, Fuquay-Varina, Goldsboro, Hendersonville, Hickory, Laurinburg, Lenoir, Lexington, Lumberton, Manteo, Marion, Monroe, Mooresville, Morehead City, Morganton, Mount Airy, Murphy, New Bern, Newton, North Wilkesboro, Pilot Mountain, Pittsboro, Reidsville, Roanoke Rapids, Rocky Mount, Roxboro, Rutherfordton, Salisbury, Sanford, Shelby, Spruce Pine, Statesville, Sylva, Tarboro, Troy, Valdese, Wake Forest, Washington, Waxhaw, Waynesville, Whiteville, Williamston, and Wilson.

The N.C. Main Street & Rural Planning Center works in partnership with Main Street America to identify local programs that meet national performance standards. These standards provide the Main Street America network with a framework to review progress, recognize strengths, understand trends and identify strategies that move Main Street programs forward.

To quality for accredited status — Main Street America’s top designation tier — communities must demonstrate alignment with the Main Street Approach and achieve exceptional performance in six areas: broad-based community commitment to revitalization; inclusive leadership and organizational capacity; diversified funding and sustainable program operations; strategy-driven programming; preservation-based economic development; and demonstrated impact and results.

There are 1,188 designated Main Street America programs across the country, said Main Street America President and CEO Erin Barnes in a release. “Main Street leaders are visionaries that see things that no one else can see and create the future world we all want to live in. The size and impact of our network demonstrates that great things happen when visions are realized through strategic, grassroots collaboration.”

In fiscal year 2022-23, Main Street downtown districts in North Carolina saw the highest investment numbers and net new jobs in the history of the program, said Liz Parham, director of the N.C. Main Street & Rural Planning Center, in a release.

Since 1980, N.C. Main Street programs have leveraged $5.2 billion in private and public investment, creating 35,144 net new jobs, and rehabilitating 7,833 buildings. In 2023, N.C. Main Street and Small Town Main Street downtown districts leveraged $684 million in public and private investment, 365 net new businesses, 2,969 net new jobs, 427 façade improvements, 331 building rehabilitations, and recorded 128,087 volunteer hours, valued at more than $3.8 million in time.

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