Main Street Program

Main Street®

The National Trust for Historic Preservation is a privately funded nonprofit organization that works to save America's historic places. One of its movements is Main Street®, which is 1) a proven strategy for revitalization; 2) a powerful network of linked communities; and 3) a national support program that leads the field. 

The Downtown Wilmington Main Street® mission is to preserve, promote and enhance the BID through the elements of organization, design, promotion and economic restructuring. Everyone has a stake in a revitalized downtown.

By bringing these groups (small businesses, large corporations & property owners, government, residents & consumers, civic organizations & schools, preservationists & social service agencies), we seek to transform ideas into action for a better downtown, and to foster a spirit of community teamwork to strengthen, revitalize and broaden the economic base.

More about Main Street America® 

Building a better downtown

  • Helping to create 1,500+ jobs

  • Restored 49 building facades

  • Removed 22 roll down security gates

  • Grants to 71 businesses

Our Main Street Wilmington Program is creating jobs by restoring buildings and bringing new businesses to Downtown. Over 194 New Businesses since 2010!

Our job is to create, manage and produce a quality environment for people who live, work and visit Downtown through our community-driven Main Street program. The program is built to support economic growth, urban revitalization and the creation of new jobs. From facade improvement to grand opening events and empowering business community connections — we are investing in your Downtown business community.

Back in March of 2006, Wilmington Mayor James Baker initiated the process of researching the feasibility of starting a "Main Street" program as part of an overall plan to revitalize the City. The result was the formation of a Main Street Steering Committee, a cooperative team of representatives from Downtown Visions, the Downtown Business Association, the City's Office of Economic Development and Wilmington City Council. After many months of meeting and planning, the Main Street Initiative here in Wilmington is in its 12th year.

Spearheaded by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, a leading advocate for the historic preservation, and Main Street America®Main Street is a proven community-driven, comprehensive methodology used to revitalize older, traditional business districts throughout the United States. The underlying premise is to encourage economic development within the context of historic preservation. Main Street advocates a return to community self-reliance, local empowerment and the rebuilding of traditional commercial districts based on their unique assets: distinctive architecture, pedestrian friendly environment, personal service, and a sense of community.

The Main Street Four-Point Approach is a comprehensive strategy that encompasses four distinct areas: Design, Organization, Promotion and Economic Restructuring. Volunteer-driven committees under each of those areas will be working hard to move the program's initiatives along, forming an effective tool for community-based, grassroots revitalization.

The strategy of any Downtown Visions Main Street Wilmington Program is always comprehensive and incremental, understanding that at times more emphasis needs to be placed in certain areas. Having achieved dramatic visual improvements along Market Street through our Facade Improvement Program & Security Gate Removal Project where we managed each property’s revitalization from beginning to end we have gained the respect and credibility with the property owners and businesses we are now able to engage them further. In the past they would simply say no to any programs they felt came from the City. Now they are eager participants.

Our strategy is basic business;

  1. Make the outside of the business appealing

  2. Enable the consumer to find the business in the manner consumer's search today — web & mobile

  3. Guide the business towards being what the consumer seeks

  4. Recruit businesses that create a mix that consumers both need and desire

  5. Tell the story, not through just advertising, rather through engaging conversation through published stories, networking & social media.

The programs and processes we have set in each of our programs are tested, true and are becoming models now for other cities.

We have succeeded! Yet there is so much more to do. No one who visits Downtown Wilmington says it is ugly and dirty. In fact, we constantly receive praise for the dramatic improvements. Now is the time to concentrate on improving the businesses. Engage their potential customers enabling them to be aware the business exists while helping the business to improve their interior and exterior appearance, products, services and marketing. This is the only way to increase their sales and bottom line, which will in turn prompt them to hire more employees, which in turn will create jobs for the community. Most of the jobs created will be entry level which is exactly what is missing for the citizens of Wilmington. Where did you have your first job? I’ll bet it was a small business. Just imagine if each of the over 300 businesses in Downtown Wilmington hired just one person. And it doesn’t stop there…

To date all grants received for programs and projects by Main Street Wilmington have been used for capital improvements to buildings, retail recruitment and job creation. No funds have been used for administration or staffing costs.