Main Street Program

Since 1984, the Washington State Main Street Program has been helping communities revitalize the economy, appearance, and image of their downtown commercial districts using the successful Main Street 4-Point Approach®. Main Street is a comprehensive, incremental approach to revitalization built around a community's unique heritage and attributes. Using local resources and initiative, the state program helps communities develop their own strategies to stimulate long term economic growth and pride in the heart of the community- downtown.

In 2010 the Main Street Program was moved from the Department of Commerce to the Department of Archaeology & Historic Preservation.  The program is managed (under contract) by the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation. 

Main Street 4-Point Approach®

Many of Washington's communities, like thousands of communities across the country, are using the National Main Street Center's 4-Point Approach® effectively to address the complex and changing issues facing the downtown business environment. The Main Street Approach provides a flexible framework that puts the traditional assets of downtown, such as unique architecture and locally-owned businesses to work as a catalyst for economic growth and community pride. Community’s just starting downtown revitalization as well as those with more experience are creating lasting economic impact through the Main Street Approach.
Downtown Walla WallaThe four points and eight guiding principles of the Main Street approach work together to build a sustainable and complete community revitalization effort.

• Economic Restructuring - This element involves strengthening your existing economic assets while diversifying the commercial district.  This goal is accomplished by identifying potential market niches, finding new uses for vacant or underused spaces and improving business practices.

Design - Utilizing appropriate design concepts, the visual quality of the commercial district (buildings, signs, window displays, landscaping, and environment) is enhanced.  This creates a safe, vibrant environment for all downtown users, improving and enhancing consumer and investor confidence in the community.

Organization - Each community has many groups of people who are interested in and are willing to work toward the goal of a revitalized commercial district. The organizational element brings together the public sector, private groups and individual citizens to provide effective, ongoing management and advocacy for the downtown district.

Promotion - By promoting the downtown in a positive manner, a community can begin to focus on the commercial district as a source of community pride, social activity and economic development potential.  Advertising, special events and retail promotions communicate your commercial district's unique characteristics, business establishments and activities to shoppers, investors, potential business and property owners, and visitors.

The Eight Guiding Principles

• Incremental Process
• Comprehensive Four Point Approach
• Quality
• Public and Private Partnership
• Changing Attitudes
• Focus on Existing Assets
• Self-Help Program
• Implementation Oriented


The State Main Street Program provides access to information, guidance and support to  individuals and organizations interested in downtown revitalization. It also serves as a general clearinghouse for the latest tools and techniques in downtown preservation and revitalization. Recognizing that Washington communities interested in revitalization have a variety of situations and needs, the WMSP offers a tiered approach to participation.

New Main Street Network Tier System

The Four Tier System for Washington's Main Street Network allows us to work closely with communities participating in Washington's Main Street Network and reflects the goal of giving communities across the state the tools to revitalize their downtowns and commercial districts. 

  1. Affiliate Level
    The purpose of the affiliate level is to provide access to resources and networking opportunities for community groups and individuals that have an interest in revitalizing their downtown or neighborhood commercial district, but may not have the capacity at this time to meet the Washington State Main Street Community Requirements.  To become an member of the network at the Affiliate level, please click here to download the application.
  2. Main Street Tax Credit Incentive Program Level
    The purpose of this tier level is to provide access to resources, networking opportunities and training to communities that have a non-profit organization dedicated solely to downtown revitalization. These communities should be committed to following the Main Street 4-Point Approach® and working toward achieving “Main Street” status.  Please note: the new application to will be available shortly. 
  3. Washington State Main Street Program Level
    The purpose of the Main Street Community level is to provide access to resources, networking opportunities, training and advanced resources and opportunities to communities who have a non-profit organization dedicated solely to downtown revitalization. These communities have committed the necessary time and training to develop community support, financial and human resources, and are implementing the Main Street Four-Point Approach®.  Sorry, we are not accepting applications for this level at this time.

Revitalize WA Conference

We are thrilled to welcome Charles Marohn, President of Strong Towns, as our RevitalizeWA 2013 Keynote Speaker! Strong Towns, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization headquartered in Minnesota, has a fresh take on community design and sustainability. Marohn believes typical development patters - the way we build our towns and neighborhoods - cost more to maintain than they generate in return. Strong Towns has introduced a new model of sustainable growth that allows America's towns to become financially secure and self-sufficient by establishing an approach to development that accounts for the full cost of growth. Charles Marohn is a Professional Engineer and a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP). He has a Bachelor's degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Minnesota's Institute of Technology and a Masters in Urban and Regional Planning from the University of Minnesota's Humphrey Institute. Additionally, Marohn is a member of the National Society of Professional Engineers, the American Planning Association, the Congress for the New Urbanism, and he serves as president of the Community Growth Instutite, a planning organization that works with small towns and rural areas.

For more information contact:

Sarah Hansen

Main Street Program Coordinator

Washington Trust for Historic Preservation

1204 Minor Avenue

Seattle, Wa 98101

(p) 206-624-9449

(f) 206-624-2410