So your town is looking to become a destination.
Here's the good news: Since 1989, the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs' Main Street New Jersey program has helped transform traditional business districts around the state by providing training, tools and resources (that means lots of dollars) for historic and economic redevelopment.
But there's a catch: Getting a spot in the program is not easy.
The program reviews applicants every two years and selects only a few for assistance.
According to Jef Buehler, a community consultant for the Main Street New Jersey and Improvement District programs, towns with historic infrastructure and a shared vision must first create a downtown business district and pedestrian-friendly environments.
The process, he said, ultimately comes down to this: Has a town displayed a willingness to change for the better and deserve the additional means to keep doing so?
To date, 35 towns have joined the Main Street New Jersey program, from hot-topic areas such as Jersey City and Atlantic City, to “buzz” towns such as Montclair, Westfield and Red Bank, to smaller towns such as Nutley and Lawrenceville.
Buehler said these towns have succeeded in bringing new visitors, thriving businesses and additional revenue into their district by embodying one of the most important principles taught by the program: asset-based change, or “leveraging the assets they do have — not what they don't.”
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Five things a downtown business district can do to be more successful, according to community consultant Jef Buehler:
Which financial resources are right for your town?
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