From time to time, someone will ask me, “What is Main Street?”
They know of Main Road. They know that Landis Avenue is the main street of Vineland. They know that Millville has a main artery named Main Street. But where’s Main Street in Vineland?
“Main Street,” in the way that it is used in “Main Street Vineland” isn’t the name of a specific street. It’s the name of a national program that is part of the National Main Street Center, which, in turn, is a subsidiary of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. It has been in existence on a national scale for over 35 years.
The Main Street movement is a powerful force in cities and towns across the country in economic development and community revitalization based on preservation. It’s based on the recognition that a community is only as strong as its core – the strength of its downtown, its main street district. The advent of malls, shopping centers, and big-box stores threatened the health and vitality of downtown areas, but the Main Street program has worked to create a rebirth of downtown areas to co-exist with the bigger stores. Each state has a Main Street program that serves the cities and towns in that state that are Main Street districts.
The Main Street program uses a Four-Point approach that is an integral part of all Main Street districts throughout the country. Within each district are four committees (or, as we in Main Street Vineland now call them, “teams”). They are Organization, Design, Promotions, and Economic Restructuring (or, as Main Street America now calls it, “Economic Vitality”). The Organization Team (chaired by Jason Scythes) deals with fundraising and membership; the Design Team (chaired by Maryam Nassiri) deals with the physical appearance of the downtown and its aesthetic qualities; the Promotions Team (chaired by Brian Lankin) deals with events—the large events such as the Holiday Parade and the smaller merchant events such as Wedding Weekend; the Economic Restructuring (or Vitality) Team (chaired by Jane Jannarone) deals with, as the name implies, the economic strength of our downtown—such as business development.
We have one more newer component—a Millennial Advisory Board (chaired by Sarah Johnson) to bring the voice of Gen X and Gen Y—the new and future entrepreneurs and consumers to our local Main Street program and its teams.
Our Main Street district was chartered in 2005. As Vineland has had a Special Improvement District, which covers a large swath of our downtown, our Main Street district was merged with that entity, making it a quasi-government entity with the full title of Vineland Downtown Improvement District/Main Street Vineland. The original VDID Board of Directors was enlarged to incorporate the Main Street Vineland program. Louise Bertacchi is the current chairperson of the Board.
For more information on the Main Street program go to www.preservationnation.org/main-street for the national program, www.nj.gov/dca/services/lps/msnj.html for Main Street New Jersey, and explore this site for our local Main Street.