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2020 New Levels

Throughout 2019, OCRA instituted a moratorium to evaluate the scope and mandate of its Main Street program. During this period, OCRA also suspended accepting new applications for designation as a Main Street organization until the evaluation could be finalized. Feedback meetings were held with Main Street America, the Indiana Main Street Council, and OCRA staff throughout the moratorium, and in November 2020, OCRA announced updates to the program that add additional value to new and existing Main Street organizations alike.

At the core of this improvement process is the development and implementation of a new Levels System. Indiana Main Street programs that were designated by OCRA prior to November 2020 and therefore grandfathered into the levels and DO NOT have to re-apply to the program. The following application information is intended only for communities who are wishing to be newly designated.

Indiana Main Street Levels graphic


The Indiana Main Street Program accepts applications for three levels. A brief description of each level is below:

  • Nationally Accredited Main Street: Organizations interested in applying to enter the Indiana Main Street program who are currently meeting all of the Accreditation Standards set forth by the National Main Street Center.
  • Indiana Accredited Main Street: Organizations interested in applying to enter the Indiana Main Street program, who are working the National Main Street Four Point Approach™ but could lack a paid staff person and/or paid membership to the National Main Street Center.
  • OCRA's Downtown Affiliate Network: Organizations interested in applying to enter the Indiana Main Street program whose organizations may lack the capacity and/or resources necessary to work the National Main Street 4 Point Approach™ holistically. They may be organizations that prefer to specialize in event-related activities only or lack the physical and/or historical capacity required to qualify as a Main Street organization.

Download more information on all three levels by clicking here.

If you have questions about what level or application you should pursue, please contact your OCRA Community Liaison.

Timeline (all webinars are posted below)

  • Applications open, Nov. 9, 2020
  • Indiana Main Street New Levels overview webinar, Nov. 12, 2020
  • New Levels FAQ webinar, Nov. 13, 2020
  • Current IMS organizations will be notified of their level placement, Nov. 17, 2020
  • Intent to Apply due Dec. 4, 2020 (see sample below)
  • Applications due March 5, 2021
  • IMS, with OCRA Community Liaison’s as coordinators, consult with local program and PM team as needed Nov-Feb. to assist with application development. This may include but is not limited to:
    • Mission/Vision development
    • Sustainability/fundraising plan development
    • Finalize work plan and committees, roles
    • Board training/development
    • Other areas as needed
  • Scoring committee meets in March 2021 to score applications
  • IMS Council meets to hear and present recommendations by end of April 2021
  • Incoming Main Street communities formally announced by May 2021

Application Introduction

Below is the process for submitting an application to become designated by the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs. As a trademarked program under the National Main Street Center, a community or district may not call itself an ‘Indiana Main Street,’ nor may it employ an ‘Indiana Main Street Manager/Director’ without an application and official designation by OCRA. We do, however, encourage communities to organize and implement the Four Point Approach prior to their designation. Designation by IMS permits a Main Street community to use the appropriate branding and program association.

Application Checklist

  • Intent to Apply emailed to the Community Liaison and State Coordinator prior to December 4
  • Complete application, via the Indiana Grants Management System (GMS), that includes:
    • Applicant information
    • Supplemental information demonstrating community support (i.e. newspaper articles, public meeting notices, etc.) are strongly encouraged
    • A resolution from the city/town government submitted with the application (include a sample resolution)
    • A proposed budget
    • A work plan with activities that align with the Main Street Approach™
    • Maps (see “Instructions for Maps and Digital Images” in the application document)
    • Five to fifteen jpg high-quality images. Images must show evidence of a consistent amount of historic commercial buildings in the proposed Main Street Program area. See “Instructions for Maps and Digital Images” for additional information.
    • Image narratives: these should be concise but tell a story that explains the history of your town and provides information about the current state of downtown. Do not include the names of individual business/building owners unless they are historically significant or otherwise relevant (i.e. the person owns multiple buildings in the program area etc.)
    • Letters of support: These should demonstrate support from different segments of the community, including merchants, civic and historical organizations and citizens.

Historic Preservation Ethic

Indiana Accredited Main Street communities and Nationally Accredited communities are expected to possess a commercial historic district and actively utilize historic preservation as a tool for economic development. A Commercial Historic District is defined by OCRA, with approval from the Indiana Main Street Council and Main Street America, as the following:

  • A commercial district whose majority of architecture is at least 50 years old, maintains historic integrity and historic fabric (evidenced by the survival of physical characteristics that existed during the property’s historic period) and is significant in American history and/or architecture at the national, state, or local level,
  • OR a commercial district that includes cultural history as part of their preservation ethic and emphasizes authentic stories of place,
  • OR a combination of the two definitions.

Recorded Webinars