Chapter 1: Main Street Basics


The Colorado Main Street Program offers support for community-led downtown revitalization. We help communities thrive by providing a customizable framework to focus efforts, energy, and resources to create a more vibrant community. 

Proven revitalization strategies and organization help communities identify and leverage opportunities and resources. 

By focusing on current community strengths and assets, the Colorado Main Street Program is a catalyst to move you forward, one step at a time.

The Colorado Main Street Program is:

  • Customizable
    • Framework to help focus efforts, not a specific list of tasks for completion
    • Support to create a roadmap that builds on a community’s unique strengths
    • Leverage current leaders and efforts to build a sustainable foundation
    • Action items evolve as community needs change
  • Accessible
    • Start small based on capacity, then work through an incremental process
    • Support and trainings are available at every step along the way
  • Holistic
    • Align community assets, volunteers, and support to work toward a common goal
    • Ongoing series of initiatives builds community support and creates lasting progress
    • A full suite of support services to revitalize your downtown

The Colorado Department of Local Affairs (DOLA) manages the Colorado Main Street program. The mission of the Colorado Main Street program is to coordinate resources and technical assistance for communities seeking to revitalize their historic downtown commercial districts based on their unique needs. DOLA requires all potential candidates to submit an application. The Main Street Advisory Board reviews the applications and the Executive Director of the Department of Local Affairs considers feedback from the Advisory Board and Colorado Main Street staff to select new Candidate Main Street communities. 

History of the Main Street Program

Concerned about continuing threats to Main Streets’ commercial architecture and aware of the need to stimulate economic activity in small-city downtowns, the National Trust for Historic Preservation launched a community demonstration project (1977-1980) that resulted in the creation of the Main Street Four-Point Approach® and establishment of the National Main Street Center in Washington, D.C. 

Main Street is a national program that has spanned four decades and taken root in more than 1,600 communities - a movement that has spurred more than $101  billion in reinvestment in traditional commercial districts, generated an average of $24.07 locally for each public dollar invested, led to a net gain of 168,693 new businesses, 746,897 new jobs, and 325,119 building rehabilitations, galvanized thousands of volunteers, and changed the way governments, planners, and developers view preservation.

Colorado Main Street History

Colorado was selected by the National Main Street Center for a state pilot Main Street project from 1982 to 1985. Delta, Durango, Grand Junction, Manitou Springs, and Sterling were Colorado’s Main Street communities in the initial program. DOLA administered this three-year pilot program. 

Although the Main Street approach to downtown revitalization proved very successful in Colorado, the state discontinued the program after completing the three-year pilot project. Several communities continued to implement Main Street and downtown revitalization programs without the benefit of a statewide coordinating program, while other local programs were discontinued.  

Between 2000 and 2010, Downtown Colorado Inc. administered the Colorado Main Street program with a grant from the State Historical Fund of the Colorado Historical Society. 

In 2011, DOLA once again became the administrator of the program.


Was this content helpful?