Community Development Block Grant
Boston, MA - Mayor Thomas M. Menino
Boston Main Streets
Boston's Office of Business Development has adapted the National Trust for Historic Preservation's Main Streets Program, creating an innovative, community-based, volunteer-driven effort to comprehensively address neighborhood commercial district revitalization. The commitment of CDBG funds, City officials say, has been key to its success.
The Boston Main Streets Program, a $4.2 million public-private initiative, began in 1995 with six neighborhood shopping districts and has grown to 15 districts in 1998; an additional five are scheduled for 1999. The Program focuses on providing merchants and community residents with tools and information needed for their historic commercial center to compete in today's market. It helps neighborhood organizations capitalize on their unique historical, cultural and architectural assets while addressing many economic development needs; it aids small business retention and recruitment in light of strong competition from shopping malls and discount retailers.
The Main Street strategy for commercial district revitalization involves comprehensive, simultaneous work in four broad areas:
The success of the Program depends on the personal commitment and hands-on involvement of a broad range of volunteers and groups such as merchants' associations, property owners, neighborhood banks, service clubs, schools, churches, and community development organizations. The City provides:
Each Main Street organization is expected to provide:
Twelve of the Main Street districts are located in low- to moderate-income areas and receive CDBG funding for the director's salary, operating costs, technical assistance and specific projects. All receive CDBG administrative funding on the assumption that they will create jobs that benefit low-income residents. Since the Program began four years ago, 15 districts have documented more than 2,000 net new jobs, 246 net new businesses, 78 storefront improvements and more than 200 storefronts in design, awaiting rehabilitation. Volunteers have committed nearly 32,400 hours to revitalization efforts. The City has invested over $106 million in capital improvement and public infrastructure repairs in the districts. In 1998 alone, Boston Main Streets gave about $141,000 for physical improvement grants, leveraging well over $261,000 in public-private improvement grants.
Boston Main Streets helped launch a successful Boston Unwrapped! Campaign which encouraged neighborhood shopping during the 1998 holiday season. As a result of a city-wide advertising campaign which used billboards, bumper stickers, colorful lapel pins and a shopping guide to businesses in each of the districts, many neighborhoods reported increased shopping activity.
Contact: Emily Haber, Director, Boston Main Streets, (617) 635-0293
The United States Conference of Mayors
J. Thomas Cochran, Executive Director
Copyright ©1999, U.S. Conference of Mayors, All rights reserved.