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What is Indiana Main Street

Indiana Main Street encourages community-driven revitalization of downtown areas in Indiana cities and towns. The people who make up the Main Street network are passionate advocates, dedicated volunteers, influential stakeholders, and community organizers who work every day to turn the tide in their communities - catalyzing reinvestment, creating jobs, and fostering pride of place.

Main Street-style transformation is a combination of art and science: communities first need to learn about the local economy, its primary drivers, and its regional context (the science), but they also need to convey that special sense of place through storytelling, preserving the older and historic structures that set it apart, broad and inclusive civic engagement, and marketing (the art). To support this powerful network, the National Main Street Center has a revitalization framework – the Main Street Approach - that helps communities leverage both the art and science of downtown revitalization to create a better quality of life for all.

The program provides technical assistance and educational opportunities to participating communities. Indiana Main Street is the state's coordinating program to the National Main Street Center.

Read the Indiana Code establishing Indiana Main Street.

Indiana Main Street Program Guide

The Indiana Main Street Program has recently published a program guide to assist communities that wish to form a Main Street organization and to provide guidance and best practices for established Main Streets.  You can download the guide below:

Indiana Main Street Four Point Approach

The Four Point Approach involves:

Organization involves creating a strong foundation for a sustainable revitalization effort, including cultivating partnerships, community involvement, and resources for the district. Organization: Building consensus and cooperation among the many groups and individuals involved in the revitalization process. To ensure a self-reliant, broad-based, long-lasting downtown revitalization program, the entire community must rally around the idea. Cooperation from both the public and the private sector is critical to achieve visible results. In addition, a separate staff and business solely dedicated to downtown revitalization is key to achieving long-term, large-scale results.

Promotion positions the downtown or commercial district as the center of the community and hub of economic activity, while creating a positive image that showcases a community's unique characteristics. Promotion: Marketing the commercial district's assets to customers, potential investors, businesses, local citizens, and visitors. To keep investors, visitors, and businesses coming downtown, Main Street must reshape the community perspective of downtown as a hub of activity. Successful downtown image campaigns, as well as promotional activities that build upon the community's unique heritage and culture send a consistent, compelling message promoting the downtown area.

Design supports a community's transformation by enhancing the physical and visual assets that set the commercial district apart. Design: Enhancing the physical appearance of the commercial district by rehabilitating historic buildings, encouraging supportive new construction, developing sensitive design management systems and long-term planning. The look of downtown, its streets, signs, buildings and store interiors is unique to each Indiana community. Main Street's goal is to work with all these elements to create a friendly, attractive place that will draw in visitors and businesses.

Economic Vitality focuses on capital, incentives, and other economic and financial tools to assist new and existing businesses, catalyze property development, and create a supportive environment for entrepreneurs and innovators that drive local economies.

Economic Restructuring: Strengthening the district's existing economic base while finding ways to expand it to meet new opportunities and challenges from outlying development. Main Street's ultimate goal is to create downtowns that are economically viable. Researching the regional market and consumer trends give Main Street organizations a realistic picture of what market mix will work for their downtown. Based on their research, Main Street organizations can begin stabilizing existing businesses and recruiting new businesses to fill the gaps.

Indiana Main Street Program Levels

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

  • Nationally Accredited Main Street (NAMS): Organizations currently meeting all Main Street Accreditation Standards.
  • Indiana Accredited Main Street (IAMS): Organizations currently meeting the Indiana Accreditation Standards.
  • OCRA's Downtown Affiliate Network (ODAN): Organizations working to build capacity to execute the Main Street Four Point Approach, or groups who prefer to specialize in event-related activities only. Members of ODAN may also be those who are working the Main Street Four-Point Approach but do not meet the qualification for OCRA’s definition of Historic Preservation Ethic and/or Fabric. Members of OCRA’s Downtown Affiliate Network must meet the ODAN Criterion Standards.

Download more information on all three levels by clicking here.


Indiana Main Street communities are eligible to apply for some exclusive grant programming through the Office of Community and Rural Affairs. This can include but is not limited to…

*Not all grant programs are available to OCRA’s Downtown Affliate Network (ODAN) members.

Main Street Revitalization Program (this grant is currently suspended) – Offered through Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds, the goal of this grant is to encourage communities with eligible populations to focus on long-term community development efforts. This can take the form of business creation, increased tourism, historic preservation, and other economic revitalization efforts.

PreservINg Main Street (expected to return in 2023) – Offered through Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds, PreservINg Main Street is a multi-faceted community development program designed to build a sustainable historic preservation community ethic, build local capacity for local Main Street programs, and serve as a comprehensive downtown revitalization model.

Other grant programs may be available in the upcoming year.