What is the Utah Main Street Program?

The Utah Main Street Program is the newest state-wide coordinating program of Main Street America.

Main Street America™ is a movement. Main Street America has been helping revitalize older and historic commercial districts for more than 35 years. It is the leading voice for preservation-based economic development and community revitalization across the country. Made up of small towns, mid-sized communities, and urban commercial districts, Main Street America represents the broad diversity that makes this country so unique. Working together, the programs that make up the Main Street America network help to breathe new life into the places people call home. 

Main Street America is a mark of distinction. It is a seal, recognizing that participating programs, organizations, and communities are part of a national movement with a proven track record for celebrating community character, preserving local history, and generating impressive economic returns. Since 1980, over 2,000 communities have been part of Main Street, bringing renewed energy and activity to America’s downtowns and commercial districts, securing $61 billion in new investment, creating more than 525,000 net new jobs and rehabilitating 251,000 buildings. 

Main Street America is a time-tested strategy. Main Street America communities are encouraged to make use of a time-tested approach, known as the Main Street Approach. The Main Street Approach is rooted in a commitment to broad-based community engagement, a holistic understanding of the factors that impact the quality of life in a community, and strategic focus on the core principles of downtown and neighborhood revitalization: Economic Vitality, Quality Design, Effective Promotion, and Sustainable Organization

The new Utah Main Street Program will help Utah communities revitalize their economy, appearance, and image of their downtown commercial districts. They do this by building a strategy centered around a community’s unique heritage and attributes, lifting up what is special about it to make it a great place to live and visit. The program will provide a framework and resources to support a community’s downtown revitalization efforts.

The Utah Main Street Program is about:

  • Revitalization; giving new life to special areas of a community
  • A traditional center for community life
  • Home to local business
  • Encouraging small business growth and entrepreneurship
  • Encouraging positive community development by in-fill and adaptable uses
  • Preservation of culture and history
  • Place making

Who benefits from a community Main Street program?

Just about everyone from businesses to residents to governments with increased revenues and goods & services.  Additionally, an amenity for residents is also an amenity for tourists. One of the greatest strengths of Main Street is its multi-disciplinary approach – its economic development, tourism, community development, heritage & culture, transportation and preservation and more.

The Main Street Movement

People are at the center of the Main Street movement. Organizations are volunteer-driven with volunteers mobilized through committees or teams that reflect the Main Street Approach™. Everyone with a stake in the commercial district and its future are typically involved. Merchants, property owners, the chamber of commerce, industries, local government, and residents all benefit from a healthy local economy and historic core that reflects the community’s heritage and personality. Financial support for the organization comes from the local entities that have a stake in the downtown: city government, merchants, businesses, major employers, and the public. The success of the Main Street organization over the years lies in the fact that it is a local initiative, both organizationally and financially. When there is local buy-in, people care more about the success of the organization and become more involved.

The Governor’s Office of Economic Opportunity (Go Utah) is home of the Utah Main Street Program and administers training, consultation and grant funding for communities with a Main Street designation. The Utah Main Street Program Advisory Committee will provide support and review of the program. Membership on the Advisory Committee includes:

  1. a representative of the Governor’s Office of Economic Opportunity (Go Utah) who provides administrative oversight of the program;
  2. a representative of the office involved in tourism development;
  3. a representative of the Department of Heritage and Arts;
  4. a representative of the State Historic Preservation Office;
  5. a representative of the Utah Department of Transportation;
  6. a representative of the Housing and Community Development Division;
  7. a representative from a local association of governments;
  8. a representative from the private sector involved in a local main street program;
  9. a representative of a local main street program; and three representatives from various entities that have an interest or expertise in assisting local main street programs

Community Designation Application

We are pleased to provide updated information on the rollout of the Utah Main Street Program (UMSP). Please read the following information carefully, as it contains details regarding the application process, required documents, and important information.

Our goal with the program is to be as flexible as possible in matching your community revitalization goals with our state & national resources. So, if your community is just beginning the revitalization process or is 25+ years into the effort, we encourage you to consider applying.

Yesterday, we conducted an intro webinar to the Utah Main Street Program, available here. This session provided a brief overview of the program, including several documents (see attachments), as well as a link to the Community Designation Application Portal where you can start your application to the program. A sample community resolution of support for the UMSP is attached to this email for your reference. Feel free to use this template or make your own version.

What are the steps to start the UMSP process for interested communities?

  1. Review the attached document titled “Is the Utah Main Street Program Right for Your Community?” and the tiered structure on the 2nd page. Decide how your community would like to approach downtown revitalization and if you have a group (or could form a group) that is willing to focus on this initiative. Additionally, we recommend bookmarking the UMSP webpage for additional details and information, checking back frequently.
  2. Download and watch the UMSP rollout webinar, available here, which provides the program overview.
  3. As we roll the UMSP out, we will start with 2 steps:
    Step 1 – interested communities will apply for designation as a UMSP tier 1 or tier 2 community. The Community Designation Application portal will remain open until the end of October for this first round. The UMSP Advisory Committee will then review the applications and assist in determining the community’s tier status. We will notify all applicants of their tier status within several weeks.
    Step 2 will be a “Downtown Enhancement Grant” application process which will be available to designated Tier 2 communities ONLY. The goal is to open the grant portal in November.
  4. Review the attached document titled “UMSP Community Designation Application Process,” which provides the questions and documents requested in the community application, allowing you to be able to prepare your answers and attachments ahead of entering the portal.
  5. Start the designation application, available here.


Please note that we are developing an “FAQ” that will be posted on our webpage soon. Until then, feel free to reach out with questions you may have. We will respond as quickly as possible.


“Utah’s Main Street program brings together so many of the State’s resources like arts and culture, preservation, and important planning tools to help communities build destinations.”

Jill Remington Love
Executive Director
Utah Department of Cultural and Community Engagement

“Few things symbolize the pioneering spirit of people in Utah like a thriving main street. The Utah Main Street Program isn’t so much about grants and buildings as it is about the people who make each community unique. This program has the ability to bring people in a community together in an organized way to realize their shared goal of a successful community.”

Keith Heaton
State of Utah, Community Development

“Utah has deep roots in the entertainment industry, with thousands of productions filmed across the state of Utah since the 1930s. Whatever the story, it can be told in Utah’s desert lands, mountain grandeur, small towns, and urban cities. With over 84,000 square miles of diverse and cinematic landscapes, Utah’s historical buildings and landmarks are unique assets that attract filmmakers to our state for film production. Productions filmed in the state have both a creative and an economic impact by supporting small businesses creating new jobs, and encouraging new visitors to see where their favorite films were shot.”

Virginia Pearce
Utah Film Commission

“Brigham City has long been recognized for its wonderful Main Street. We are excited and honored that Brigham City has been chosen as a pilot community for the Utah Main Street Program. The Main Street Program has demonstrated its effectiveness throughout the United States. As a community-driven and holistic approach to downtown revitalization, and not simply a silver bullet approach, I believe that the Main Street Program will be of tremendous benefit for our beautiful town.”

Tyler M. Vincent
Brigham City

“Utah’s Main Street Program is the perfect blend of preservation-based economics and community engagement. Utah is home to vibrant communities throughout the state, each with unique and rich architectural history. The Main Street Program provides the necessary support to local communities that specifically utilizes the existing historic fabric of its downtowns while also maximizing people-centered spaces, economic growth and vitality, and community involvement. All of this helps to revitalize historic downtowns across the state and ensure Utah keeps its distinct culture and historic spaces for future generations.”

Kelsey Maas
Associate Director
Preservation Utah

“Main Street revitalization is an ongoing process that involves a diverse group of community partners who focus on the priorities of each main street. Our work with Price City, and Castle Dale City in their efforts towards Main Street revitalization has taught us that it takes community commitment and business support for Main Street revitalization to be successful. Utah Main Street Program is a community revitalization program that provides the structural support that our communities need in order to gain success and make long-lasting changes.”

Allison Preston
Community Development Strategist

Frequently Asked Questions

How does the Utah Main Street Program (UMSP) help communities?

Utah Main Street Program (UMSP) has been established and funded thanks to Senate Bill 194, Senator Owens and Representative Lund and the Utah Legislature.

The UMSP is a Main Street America™ Coordinating Program. As a Main Street America™ coordinating program, UTAH MAIN STREET PROGRAM (UMSP) is affiliated with the National Main Street Center, which helps to lead a powerful, grassroots network consisting of over 46 coordinating programs and over 2,100 neighborhoods and communities across the country committed to creating high-quality places and to building stronger communities through preservation-based economic development.

UTAH MAIN STREET PROGRAM (UMSP) communities are designated through a competitive application process. These communities have continued to generate real results by supporting new and existing businesses, planning and funding physical improvements, organizing events and promotions to raise the profile of their downtown district and engaging community members in downtown revitalization.

Information reflecting the impact of the UTAH MAIN STREET PROGRAM (UMSP) Program is self-collected and shared.

What is the Main Street Approach™?

The Main Street Approach™ is a unique, historic preservation-based economic development strategy that focuses on leveraging existing social, economic, physical and cultural assets to energize community revitalization efforts and help manage success for the long term. The approach leads to tangible outcomes that benefit the entire community through encouraging communities to enact long-term change while also implementing short-term, inexpensive and place-based activities that attract people to the commercial core and create a sense of enthusiasm about the community.

The Main Street Approach is a methodology consisting of three integrated components:

  1. The vision provides a foundation for outlining the community’s identity, expectations and ideals for future development while being grounded in an understanding of the economic market realities of the district.
  2. Transformation strategies identify long-term and short-term actions that provide a clear sense of priorities and direction to help move a community closer to implementing their vision. Work on these strategies should align with the Main Street Four Points of organization, promotion, design and economic vitality.
  3. The Main Street organization must show visible results that can only come from implementing action items and completing projects in the short-term and long-term. Main Street must focus on measuring progress and results in order to justify and demonstrate the wise use of scarce resources.

Is the Utah Main Street Program right for your community?

Successful Main Street Districts provide:

  • Walkable, human-scale environments
  • Unique, historic and visually attractive architecture
  • A mix of uses, activities and consumers
  • A strong existing tax base that attracts new businesses and creates jobs
  • A center for activity and community life
  • Positive community image and identity
  • Opportunities for public-private partnerships
  • A place for the community to define its identity through a shared vision of place

Key Questions:

  • Does your potential district meet UTAH MAIN STREET PROGRAM (UMSP) standards for traditional downtown and/or neighborhood commercial districts?
  • Is historic preservation important to local citizens and stakeholders?
  • Is downtown revitalization a community priority?
  • Do you want to leverage human and financial resources in support of downtown?
  • Is there a desire to build broad-based community support for downtown revitalization?
  • Are public and private stakeholders ready to engage in these efforts?

If your community is ready, then the next step is to participate in the Utah Main Street Community Application Process.  


_Director, Utah Main Street Program & Rural Outreach Manager

Nan Groves Anderson

435-287-4170 nanderson@utah.gov