• What is the MSNJ Program?

    The Main Street New Jersey (MSNJ) program is a place-based economic development effort targeting New Jersey’s historic commercial districts. Main Street New Jersey staff provides technical support and training to New Jersey communities that have expressed a stakeholder-driven commitment to revitalizing their traditional business districts using a comprehensive strategy based on historic preservation.  MSNJ is the State of New Jersey’s downtown training and technical assistance program, and is the nationally-certified (by the National Main Street Center) official Main Street® coordinating program for New Jersey.   


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  • When was the MSNJ Program founded?

    MSNJ was established in 1989 to encourage and support the revitalization of historic downtowns in New Jersey. Since 1990, these communities have received technical support and training needed to restore and enhance their Main Streets as centers of community activity and commerce.

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  • Does the MSNJ Program offer grants?

    Main Street New Jersey is a hand up, not a hand out. MSNJ is not a grant program. In fact, MSNJ has never given out money to its local programs. 

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  • What are the Tiers of involvement with MSNJ?

    Main Street New Jersey designates new communities as Traditional & Partner programs. Traditional programs have demonstrated sufficient organizational, staff and volunteer support to receive the full range of services offered by MSNJ. Partner designated communities have access to many of those same services from MSNJ while maintaining part-time staffing locally.  In 2012, MSNJ added the Associate Tier selection level designed to provide stakeholder education and revitalization training to municipalities and downtown management programs interested in using the Main Street Approach® which may seek to become designated at a later date.  

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  • Is there a cost to be a part of the MSNJ program?

    There is no fee to be part of the MSNJ program.  Designated programs must have locally-sourced funding in place for their budgets to operate their organizations, pay staff, and implement their projects, however.

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  • How do communities access the MSNJ program?

    There are four ways for a community to become involved with MSNJ:

    ·       Applying: Communities may freely apply for designation or selection when the NJDCA offers such opportunities.  For more information on whether your community may be a good fit for the MSNJ program, please see this summary.

    ·       Attending: Community stakeholders may attend the New Jersey Downtown Institute (NJDI) workshops for a fee;

    ·       Connecting: Downtown management and public officials and stakeholders can receive free phone and email assistance on a variety of related topics from MSNJ staff; and

    ·       Educating: Communities may work with MSNJ to host a free public educational presentation on-site to inspire, engage, and inform their stakeholders about the importance of their downtown, the Main Street® Approach to downtown revitalization and management, and the MSNJ program itself.


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  • What are the kinds of services offered by MSNJ to it designated Tier Communities/programs?

    Designated Main Street Communities receive valuable technical assistance and on- and off-site training to build local capacity for a sustained downtown revitalization effort.  State budget permitting, the following are examples of services that MSNJ may offer:

    ·       NJ Downtown Institute Scholarships

    ·       Membership with the National Main Street Network

    ·       National Main Streets Conference Scholarships

    ·       Business Branding and Digital Design

    ·       District Branding and Digital Design

    ·       Strategic Implementation Planning

    ·       Board of Directors Training

    ·       Fundraising Training

    ·       Team (Committee) Training

    ·       Executive Director Orientation

    ·       Executive Director Hiring Assistance

    ·       Architectural Renderings for Buildings

    ·       Structural Assessments for Buildings

    ·       Visual Merchandising and Storefront Design Services

    ·       For a more detailed list, please see here.


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  • What are the kinds of services offered by MSNJ to it selected Tier communities/programs?

    Associate Tier selected programs and communities are able to take advantage of the nationally-known NJ Downtown Institute at no cost to build their capacity for downtown revitalization and management.  They also receive statewide advocacy by MSNJ with other State entities for significant projects in their downtown districts as well as additional prioritization by staff regarding their technical assistance questions and concerns.

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  • How is the relationship with MSNJ codified by the municipality and local program?

    Local Main Street programs, mayors, the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs, and the MSNJ program sign an annual Letter of Agreement. This agreement details performance standards for local Main Street® programs and the in-kind services and training offered by the MSNJ program.

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  • What are the results of the MSNJ program?

    By focusing the State’s resources on traditional towns, cities and villages, MSNJ has worked with its local partners to grow jobs, enhance quality of life and preserve historic fabric in communities that already have the infrastructure, transit, and mindset to add appropriate density and investment where it costs the state the least.  Please see our Return on Investment (ROI) Summary for the details - the results have been impressive. Main Street New Jersey programs have generated new businesses and new jobs for their respective districts; façade improvements and building rehabilitations projects have upgraded the image of New Jersey downtowns; and promotional activities have encouraged community cohesion while expanding commercial markets.

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  • What is the Main Street Approach®?

    The Main Street Approach® was established by the National Main Street Center in 1980.  Over the years, MSNJ has further refined this four-point comprehensive paradigm/business model for downtown revitalization and management.  There are no “quick fixes” for declining downtowns. Success is realized through the comprehensive and incremental approach of the Main Street® program. The four elements that combine to create this well balanced approach are:

    ·       Organization – Enhancing Civic Value

    It is essential to build a Main Street framework that is well represented by civic groups, merchants, property owners, residents, public officials, and chambers of commerce. Everyone must work together to renew downtown. A strong organization provides the stability to build and maintain a long-term effort.


    ·       Promotion – Enhancing Social/Marketing Value

    Promotions create excitement downtown. Street festivals, parades, retail events and image development campaigns are some of the ways Main Street encourages consumer traffic in the downtown. Promotion involves marketing an enticing image to shoppers, investors and visitors to changes perceptions and put “feet on the street”.


    ·       Design – Enhancing Physical Value

    This element works on enhancing the physical vitality of the business district and the potential to attract and keep customers, tenants, and investors. Rehabilitated buildings, attractive storefronts, properly designed signage, clean and functional streets and sidewalks all help to create an environment where people want to shop and visit.


    ·       Economic Growth – Enhancing Economic Value

    Analyzing current market forces to develop long-term solutions is the primary focus of this element. Improving the competitiveness of Main Street’s traditional small business merchants, creatively converting vacant space to new, more intensified uses, and recruiting new complimentary businesses are examples of economic restructuring activities. 

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  • How can I join the National Main Street Network?
    Any person, community, entity, or firm may join the National Main Street Center Network.  MSNJ encourages membership with the Network as another tool to support your downtown revitalization interests and goals.  Please go here to find the appropriate options for you and your community: http://www.preservationnation.org/main-street/join/
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