N.J. towns earn national recognition for effort to restore business districts | Economy | NewJerseyNewsroom.com -- Your State. Your News.

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N.J. towns earn national recognition for effort to restore business districts

mainstreet072610_optFourteen New Jersey towns have been accredited as 2010 National Main Street Programs for meeting business district revitalization performance standards set by the National Trust Main Street Center.

The towns are Boonton, Bridgeton, Hammonton, Highland Park, Lawrenceville, Millville, Montclair, Newton, Salem, Somerville, South Orange, Vineland, Westfield and West Orange, the state Department of Community Affairs announced Monday.

"This prestigious national recognition demonstrates the commitment these communities have to strengthening their downtown districts,'' Community Affairs Commissioner Lori Grifa said. "They recognize that revitalizing the traditional cores of their villages, towns and cities helps foster economic development. I commend the local public and private-sector leaders, merchants, and dedicated volunteers for the contributions they've made to their respective communities. Without their hard work, this national accreditation would not be possible."

The DCA's Main Street New Jersey program partnered with the National Trust for Historic Preservation's National Main Street Center to evaluate each of the 26 designated Main Street communities in the state and identify which ones met the 10 performance standards required for national accreditation.

The standards include such criteria as strong support from the public and private sectors; relevant vision and mission statements; a comprehensive Main Street work plan; a historic preservation ethic; an adequate operating budget; and an ongoing training program for staff and volunteers.

"We encourage all of our designated communities to work toward accreditation because in doing so they are building vibrant, sustainable downtown districts," Jef (CQ) Buehler, director of the Main Street New Jersey and Improvement District Programs at the DCA. "Just as important, national accreditation brings visibility to a community, which can result in more visitors and shoppers, as well as increased investment."

Now celebrating its 20th anniversary, Main Street New Jersey provides technical assistance and training in the Main Street Four-Point Approach developed by the National Trust Main Street Center. More than 1,900 communities across the country have adopted the approach, which focuses on organization, design, promotion and economic restructuring, to revitalize their historic or traditional commercial districts.

Since its inception in 1990, Main Street New Jersey has leveraged more than $1 billion in new private investment and another $228 million in public investment.

Each year, the National Trust for Historic Preservation's National Main Street Center offers accreditation to the local Main Street programs that meet the 10 national standards of performance. In 2010, 759 programs in the nation received national accreditation based on their evaluations from 2009.

— TOM HESTER SR., NEWJERSEYNEWSROOM.COM

 

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