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Built Environment


Establish Local Main Street Programs

Main Street programs are working to revitalize small downtown across the county. Contact the Flint Hills Regional Council to learn about creating a local Main Street program in your community.

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Tool Information


  1. Downtowns
  2. Amenities
  3. Tourism


The Main Street Program, created by the National Trust for Historic Preservation is a national network of communities that encourage preservation-based economic revitalization. The organization has participated in more than 2000 commercial districts during its 30 year history. The National Main Street Center helps communities with leadership and technical assistance, holds conferences, and conducts research and advocacy on critical revitalization issues. The state and local Main Street program and framework helps leverage local support for a commercial revitalization project to generate new investments and economic development in small downtowns and main streets. Main Street Programs plan and implement projects that create more vibrant and healthy commercial districts. This tool encourages local volunteers and stakeholders in a community to organize a non-profit board that will seek designation and recognition with this statewide and national network and resource.
Promotional Events provide an opportunity for cultural expression while they support local businesses.


For a community to be strong and healthy, it requires a solid core that reminds citizens about their cultural past and provides a sense of identity for community life.  When a group of engaged citizens may not know where to start revitalization and economic development efforts, the Main Street Program provides training and resources to enable success for downtown businesses and entrepreneurs to try new strategies that have worked well in other places.  When a local Main Street program is in place it may support the ongoing implementation of local businesses and entrepreneurs choosing to reinvest in the historic downtown.  Main Street Programs are typically incorporated as a 501c3 non-profit and are funded through membership fees, grants, and donations. 

The State of Kansas terminated support for the 27 year old state-wide Main Street Program in 2012.  In 2013 a private state-wide Kansas Main Street Inc. program was created in order to support local programs and continue Kansas’ partnership with the National Main Street program. The Kansas Main Street Inc. program provided member communities with technical guidance, periodic training in such areas as fundraising and historic preservation, and zero-interest matching loans of up to $20,000 to help small businesses under a program called Incentives Without Walls.

An example of a Mainstreet program that ties together aesthetic improvements with practical infrastructure improvements that simultaneously improve the viability of downtown businesses and improve the visitor's experience.

Additional Information

National Main Street Center, a subsidiary of the National Trust for Historic Preservation



Kansas Main Street, Inc. serves over 25 cities across Kansas with an approach to economic development.


Implementation Strategy

Champions and Partners

  • Chamber of Commerce
  • Community Historic Preservation Societies
  • Kansas Main Street Inc. Program
  • National Main Street Program


Short (1-3 years)



Cost Details

  • Costs associated with forming a non-profit organization
  • Staff
  • Marketing

Funding Sources

  • Membership dues
  • Grants
  • Donations
  • New economic investments that results from an organized and confident strategy for downtown

Implementation Details

A brief outline of the first few steps necessary for implementation are provided. The steps outlined here are provided only as a suggested starting point and other approaches are certainly valid.

Use the Main Street Four Point Approach® 1. Organization – organize stakeholders & volunteers 2. Promotion – advertising, promotion, marketing campaigns, identity 3. Design – improving and maintaining the physical appearance and character of Main Street 4. Economic Restructuring – strengthen and diversify a districts economic base with existing and new businesses the market can support & infill unused or underused commercial spaces

Case Study

Emporia Main Street

Emporia Main Street 

Mr. Casey Woods 
12 E. 5th Avenue P.O. Box 2011 
Emporia, Kansas 66801 
Phone: 620.340.6430 
Email: main.street@emporia-kansas.gov 
Website: www.emporiamainstreet.com


Emporia Implemented a Main Street Program that included a design committee, a promotion committee and a business enhancement committee to focus community vision around a revitalized historic downtown and cultural life.  They created an online directory of shopping opportunities, events calendar, and business directory and list volunteer opportunities.  They have created new jobs through continued economic growth.  For every public dollar invested, the average return is $37.00 in private funds.  They provide education to entrepreneurs who want to learn about starting a new business and connects new businesses to 0% loans through the Incentives Without Walls program.  Emporia Main Street advocates for legislative issues that impact the downtown and community life. They promote retail and service businesses and sponsor events and festivals that support Main Street businesses.  


Emporia Main Street is a local example of the Main Street Program at work.   

Revitalizing Downtown activities and celebrations of what is uniquely Emporia.