OCRA improves project

The Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs announced on Monday, Nov. 9, improvements to the Indiana Main Street program and will begin accepting applications for new organizations to join the program.

“It was crucial for the Indiana Main Street program to align with national standards and other state programs, which is why OCRA took the time to thoroughly review and research improvements,” said Matt Crouch, Interim Executive Director of OCRA. “Implementing a new levels structure allows OCRA to better serve and support communities that are actively working the Main Street Approach, while also cultivating their capacity for future growth.”

In 2019, the Office of Community and Rural Affairs suspended accepting applications for new organizations to join the program while it conducted a review and evaluation of the program’s scope.

Crouch said after much consultation with the Indiana Main Street Council and National Main Street Center, OCRA decided to adopt the Indiana Main Street Levels. This system allows member communities to engage in long-range planning and downtown revitalization at three distinct levels:

OCRA’s Downtown Affiliate Network: organizations that lack capacity/resources to work the four points holistically, prefer to specialize in event-related activities only, or lack the physical/historical capacity necessary to qualify as a Main Street;

Indiana Accredited Main Street: working the Four Points effectively but may lack a paid staff person and/or a paid membership to National Main Street Center; and/or Nationally Accredited Main Street: meeting all MSA’s Accreditation standards.

As part of the reorganization, current Main Street organizations will be placed into a particular level with the guidance and approval from OCRA. Communities will then be able to progress to a different level by completing a membership level advancement application. Each level is accompanied by different requirements, incentives and benchmarks. The Levels System was influenced by the accreditation standards for the National Main Street Center and the Leadership Council of the Main Street America Coordinators.

Since 1985, the Indiana Main Street Program has been helping communities revitalize the economy, appearance and image of their downtown commercial districts using the National Main Street Center’s successful Main Street 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 and provides support for the implementation of their own strategies to stimulate long-term economic growth and pride in the downtown.

An informational webinar will be held Thursday, Nov. 12 to further explain the new levels and application process. Current Main Street organizations will be notified of their level placement Tuesday, Nov. 17.