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Fort Worth is home to many vibrant, historic, and culturally rich neighborhood commercial districts and corridors within its central city. These businesses and neighborhood corridors are critical to the local economy. They play an important role in the quality of life and economic resiliency of our neighborhoods, and offer unique assets that make them key components to the strength and vibrancy of Fort Worth as a whole. They allow for a diverse Fort Worth to exist and for all people to find places they can identify with. Unfortunately, not all of these districts have received the same amount of reinvestment over the years, and coming out of COVID-19, there is a greater need for the neighborhoods, businesses and property owners, as well as community partners and the City of Fort Worth, to come together to work towards developing a strategy for investing in the people, design, economy, and storytelling that can help drive future economic development efforts that residents and the entire city can be proud of.

The City of Fort Worth is pleased to announce its partnership with Main Street America (MSA) to support community economic development and commercial district revitalization efforts in Fort Worth’s Central City commercial districts. This program is first of its kind in a major city in Texas.

About Main Street America

Main Street America is a proven leader in the commercial district revitalization field. Their approach to helping to transform local economies, known as the Main Street Approach®, is a time-tested methodology that focuses comprehensively on the key factors that build shared prosperity and community wealth in commercial districts. Building off nearly four decades of success, this model harnesses the social, economic, physical, and cultural assets that set a place apart, ultimately leading to tangible outcomes that benefit the entire community. The Main Street Approach equips local leaders and residents with a practical framework for improving the quality of life in their own communities.

Main Street America launched its big city program in August 2017, designed to support the needs of neighborhood commercial districts in large cities through a suite of tailored technical services and a dynamic network to connect individuals leading those local neighborhood development efforts. Technical services include comprehensive multi-phased programming, extensive community engagement, and rigorous market analysis to support corridor leaders, city officials, property owners and residents in developing and implementing district revitalization strategies.

Main Street America was selected by the City of Fort Worth to provide support towards the revitalization of two neighborhood business districts over the next three years. If successful, the City looks to replicate this work in other urban neighborhood corridors throughout Fort Worth.

Goals of Program

While it is recognized that quality community economic development and revitalization takes time, the goal of this program is to give the community stakeholders the proven tools to understand and guide the districts future in a positive way. Each district will receive Main Street training to produce customized strategies, goals, and funding to support them. Collectively, the program’s intent is for each corridor to work towards or accomplish the following goals:

  • Develop a clear idea of where stakeholders want their district to go with actionable goals, steps on how to get there and metrics to help inform success.
  • Create or strengthen a district focused organization and “community quarterback” (full time staffer) that takes on the role of implementing the community transformation strategy as well as organizing and training stakeholders to move the district towards its long-term goals.
  • Strong and diverse boards and community volunteer committees representing all kinds of stakeholders such as neighborhoods, business owners, non-profits, etc.
  • Vibrant and unique districts that capture the history and preserve the cultural assets while casting a welcoming atmosphere for all and a vision for the future development of district.
  • Stronger existing and new businesses, creative entrepreneurs, and addition of jobs within the district.
  • Redevelopment or new incremental development that matches the scale and character of the district.
  • Clear voice and identity of district – with projects and new investment that reflect that.
  • Welcoming infrastructure and design that promotes walkability and supports small businesses and community gathering.

Program Overview

The selected managing organization and districts will receive the following:

1. Training and technical support from the Main Street America’s team for the chosen managing organization, community, its board, and partners to help build a robust revitalization knowledge base and develop a sustainable and equitable strategy to spur economic vitality. Services will include the following:

  • Main Street 101 Fundamentals training
  • Community Asset Mapping, Engagement and Partnership Building
  • Board Roles/Responsibilities
  • Volunteer recruitment and retention
  • Business mix and Trade area analysis
  • Neighborhood attitude survey
  • Business Recruitment and Retention
  • Yearly program assessments
  • Free 2-year Main Street America Membership
  • Free registration to attend the Main Street Now Conference for a staff member

2. Customized district Transformation Strategy that includes metrics development and work plan to help put the strategy into action and give tangible implementation steps. Grantees will be guided through a process of developing Transformation Strategies that will provide direction for revitalization work. A Transformation Strategy articulates a focused, deliberate path to revitalizing or strengthening a commercial district’s economy.

3. Direct City Staff support throughout pilot program to aid managing organization and community in training and facilitation of projects within the district.

4. Operational support funding to ensure each district’s managing organization has a community-supported, full-time staff person dedicated to implementing, Main Street programming and working with community stakeholders.

  • Year 1: $45,000
  • Year 2: Up to $45,000
  • Year 3: Up to $30,000

5. Project implementation grants to support the projects identified through Main Street programming (e.g. transformation strategy development and work plan process). This funding will be granted to the community on a project-by-project basis.

  • Year 1: Up to $20,000
  • Year 2: Up to $80,000
  • Year 3: Up to $50,000 as a matching grant.

These funds are meant to catalyze the community through visible projects and are structured to help the managing organization build fundraising capacity- with the goal of attracting private dollars for the long-term sustainability of the organization and district. Grants will be awarded on a yearly, project-by-project basis.

In addition to the opportunity to access up to $270,000 community catalyst funds, services that the MSA will be provided to each neighborhood business district are valued at $50,000.

In the summer of 2022, the MSA and City will select two neighborhood corridors to participate in the program. If successful, they will look to launch a long-term initiative in additional corridors in the future.

Applicant Eligibility Requirements

Applicants must be a “managing organization.” The managing organization should be based in the applicable neighborhood or have a significant presence and support with the intention of locating an office there; have a proven ability to convene small businesses, property owners, residents, institutions and local stakeholders; and a have track record of achieving measurable community outcomes. These organizations must have sufficient staffing and sound financials to sustain economic development work in the neighborhood or demonstrate that there is significant support from organizations or individuals who will aid in fulfilling this objective.

The managing organization must be a local community development corporation, merchant association or chamber of commerce with 501c(3), 501c(4) or 501c(6) status and have a Federal Employment Identification Number. If the managing organization is not already district-focused, a new organization will need to be established whose mission is focused on place-based community economic development within the chosen district. The newly established district-focused organization can be a subsidiary of an existing organization. If newly established and independent of an existing organization, the managing organization will need to demonstrate support and backing of institutions or other organizations that have a proven track record. As a part of the establishment of the program in the area, the applicant needs to identify who would make up a Launch Committee that will be tasked with implementation of the program until a board and committee structure is established. This Launch Committee should consist of members that reflect the interests of the local community and have diverse perspectives and backgrounds.

Successful applicants ideally will have:

  • Defined neighborhood commercial corridor boundaries that are within the Central City in a majority, traditionally distressed urban neighborhood (those in low-to moderate income census tracts) or a Neighborhood Empowerment Zone. Special consideration will be given to those that include Urban Village/s and/or are aligned with an Economic Development Revitalization Target Area. A virtual map of these areas can be found HERE. If selected, the City and Main Street will advise on the firm boundaries of the area.
  • Distinct areas with a significant cultural and/or historic aspects that are desired to be preserved.
  • Demonstrate a need for community capacity building and a district only focused community and economic development organization and full-time staff person to advance their mission – “community quarterback”.
  • If an established organization, at least one year of audited financial statements.
  • Letters of support from council members, and/or other local stakeholders.
  • Submit a letter of intent that expresses commitment to this program.
  • A designated staff or board member responsible for leading change on behalf of their organization around commercial revitalization and serve as MSA’s on-the-ground point person.
    • This person can be the full-time director, or if the organization desires to hire a full-time director once the grant agreement is executed or a board is in place, there must be a       representative/s that will commit, to full-time duties to lead this initiative forward until that time and person is hired. This must be clearly communicated in the application.

Ideal qualities of this staff person include:

  • Ability to form relationships and work effectively with diverse groups
  • Strong written and verbal communication skills
  • Fundraising experience is a plus
  • Volunteer recruitment know-how
  • Skill in designing and managing multiple projects and activities
  • Capacity to think strategically and improve the program over time in response to changed conditions and program experience
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Knowledge of small business and real estate development issues
  • Exhibited ability to organize and collaborate with community stakeholders (residents, property owners, business owners, etc.) and political leaders
  • Demonstrated ability to develop and manage community partnerships to carry out and manage joint community economic development change efforts

The managing organization will:

  • Maintain relationships and build collaborations among organizations to achieve results.
  • Demonstrate ability to fundraise and provide a $6,000 match to support work and demonstrate a commitment to fundraise to access matching funds provided through the program. Fifty percent of the required program match or up to $3,000 may be provided by the managing organization’s contribution of staff time to support the project. Match fund and      timesheets will be collected over a 24-month period.
  • Establish a Launch Committee that will be tasked with standing up and implementing the program until a new, official board and committee structure is established. This Launch Committee should consist of members that reflect the interests of the local community and/or have relevant experience in community and/or economic development.
  • Work in collaboration with Main Street America and City to convene local stakeholders, small business owners, and property owners for focus groups, community-wide meetings and program assessment at Year 3.
  • Monitor and report to MSA and City in an annual report on: the Main Street Approach implementation
  • Status on efforts, new projects implemented and progress made towards the Main Street Approach and strategy / work plan (once work plan and strategy are completed). Examples: neighborhood festivals, placemaking, programs, additional trainings beyond Main Street, small business supported, redevelopment projects supported, promotion and marketing efforts, etc.)

If a managing organization does not exist, one may be created for the purposes of becoming the district’s community revitalization organization that focuses on goals related to the Main Street program goals. If this is the case, supplemental organizational plans, letters of support from partners and community addressing the support and capacity of the individual/s who make up this new entity will be required.

At Year 3, a full assessment with Main Street America partners and the City will be conducted with tours and interviews within the community in addition to the annual report. This is to assess the success of the district/managing organization and program and if, at that time, the organization and district at year 3 can meet the Main Street accreditation standards.

Application Submission process:

All applications must be submitted online through the Submittable application portal. The deadline for submitting a proposal is 8:00 pm, CST, Friday, June 6th, 2022. Please contact Dionne Baux at or Martha Collins, with questions. Timeline for Selection:

  • April 19th: Request For Application (RFA) opens
  • May 11th: RFA Workshops with Main Street America (registration on CFW Main Street webpage)
  • June 6th at 8:00pm: Applications Due
  • June 7th-10th: Application review by selection committee & scheduling site visits
  • June 13-17th: Selection committee conducts site visit with neighborhoods & final scoring

         *Please make sure you block your organization’s calendars in preparation for the site visit*

  • June 28th: Announcement of two pilot districts

With the generous support of U.S. Bank, Main Street America's education and professional development program, the Main Street America Institute (MSAI), is offering a grant opportunity to the select group of Main Street managers and community revitalization professionals who have successfully completed the Supporting Small Businesses on Main Street grant program. To apply, participants need to have completed all of the below requirements.

Eligibility requirement: Completed the Supporting Small Businesses on Main Street course.

Participants who have completed all of the eligibility requirements are welcome to apply for one of three, $2,500 implementation grants through MSAI and U.S. Bank. These grants should be directly tied to the learning outcomes of the program and help kick-start community projects that aim to support local entrepreneurship. 

Grant Criteria

  • The proposed project must support entrepreneurial ecosystem development and respond to the needs identified in the Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Audit during the Supporting Small Businesses on Main Street class. 
  • Project proposals should be in response to areas marked "low" in the audit, to help remediate weaknesses identified.
  • Ideally, this is a pilot or project that can grow beyond the initial grant allocation.
  • While optional, we encourage you to connect with your U.S. Bank representative to share your project proposal and see if there are any opportunities for partnership.

To be considered, applications must be submitted by Monday, May 30th at 11:59 pm.

Thank you for your interest in presenting at the 2022 Illinois Main Street Conference. This year's conference will be held in Bloomington, IL. Education sessions will take place Tuesday, October 18 to Thursday, October 20.

National Main Street Center