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Illinois Main Street: Downtown Development

IMSResources for Illinois Main Street Communities

Illinois Main Street is a downtown revitalization program based on the National Main Street Four Point Approach. Illinois has participated in the Main Street program since 1993. There currently are 41 Main Street communities in Illinois. The program is administered by the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. Please visit the Illinois Main Street Website for more information.

Illinois Main Street provides local Main Street organizations with technical support including training, conferences, site visits and on-line resources. IMS has contracted with the Center for Governmental Studies at Northern Illinois University to assist in providing support to local programs. A variety of resources can be found on this page, including upcoming events, material from past workshops, examples of best practices, models and templates for local projects, and sources for data and information. 

Creative Enterprises and Downtown Prosperity

The creative economy is one of the most talked about topics in downtown development. What it includes and how to incorporate it into  economic growth planning and downtown revitalization are discussed in the resources listed below. For additional information contact Mim Evans,, or Norm Walzer,

The Creative Economy and Downtown Workshop

Agenda (pdf)

Speaker Biographies (pdf)

Financial Models for Creative Enterprises (xls)

Business Plan for Creative Enterprises (doc)

Services for Owners of Creative Enterprises (pdf)

Developing a Creative Economy presented by Pam Schallhorn, University of Illinois Extension (pdf)

Architects as Creative Entrepreneurs presented by Lisa Sharp, Sharp Architects (pdf)

Six Corners Chicago Revitalization, presented by Kelli Weffenstette (pdf)

Creative Enconomy, presented by Anne Katz, Art Wisconsin (pdf)

Creative Economy Final Report (pdf)

Policy Profiles - The Back to the City Movement: Will It Help Illinois’ Smaller Cities? (pdf) 

ReportMain Street as a Downtown Revitalization Strategy in Illinois

Illinois Main Street contracted with the Center for Governmental Studies to prepare a report on the status of the Main Street program at the state and local level.  All Illinois local Main Street organizations were surveyed to obtain information on their organizations, performance, needs and districts.  This information was combined with group discussions and research on best practices in other states to arrive at options for the future of Main Street in Illinois.  An executive summary and the full report are available below. 

Executive Summary | Full Report 

New Policy Profile on Small City Opportunities

The new CGS Policy Profile The Back to the City Movement: Will It Help Illinois' Smaller Cities outlines what your small city can do to capture growth in residents, businesses and revenue generated by renewed interest in urban lifestyles. Read it here.

Training and Events

Illinois Main Street is hosting a new series of workshops for local Main Street staff and volunteers, city staff and officials, economic development professionals, chambers of commerce and others interested in downtown revitalization.  The workshops are held around the state throughout the year.  Click on the upcoming events below for information on topics, dates, and locations.  For information on past workshops, click on the past events below to read about the workshop and download material from the workshop. Workshops often sell out so advance registration is recommended.

Past Events

Growing Your Farmers Market Workshop

There are many ways to host and manage farmers markets and many resources available to help start or grow an existing market.  On Friday, January 29, CGS will host a workshop at the NIU Holmes Student Center that will explore these topics in addition to looking at how SNAP and WIC can be implemented in your market, how to better manage your market, what farmers think about markets, and much more.  As a special treat, the workshop will include one of the initial screenings of the new documentary, Think Globally, Eat LocallyClick here for workshop material.  

Taking the Next Step: Nonprofits as Developers, Landlords and Business Owners
April 21st, 2015, Sterling, IL
Wednesday, April 29th, 2015, Mount Vernon, IL

Project Development from Start to Finish
September 23rd, 2014, Macomb, IL

Closing the Deal:  Bringing New Businesses to Your Downtown
January 16, 2014, Dwight, IL
January 27, 2014, Alton, IL

Growing the Businesses You Have:  Business Retention Strategies 
March 11, 2014, Jacksonville, IL
February 6, 2014, Libertyville, IL

Main Street Toolbox

Local Main Street organizations carry out a wide range of programs and projects requiring specialized knowledge and resources.  This toolbox contains tools that Main Street executive directors and volunteers can use to assist downtown businesses, carry out downtown improvement projects, provide information for residents and visitors and run their own organizations effectively.  Some of the tools can be downloaded and posted on local websites.  Others can be linked to local websites.  New tools will be added over time. Visit the Main Street Toolbox.  

Illinois Main Street Communities Contact Information

Need to reach a local Main Street organization?  Find contacts for every Illinois Main Street organization here.

National Main Street Conference 2014 Session Presentation

It Takes More Than Stores: Keeping your Downtown Alive in the Future


Positions Available

Positions available with local Illinois Main Street organizations are posted below.  Please follow contact instructions included in each posting.

Waukegan, IL, Executive Director, Posted 3.16.15
Job Description | Application Instructions

Main Street Toolbox


For additional information about the Illinois Main Street Program, please contact:

Illinois Mainstreet
Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity
500 East Monroe
Springfield, IL 62701

Mim Evans
Research Associate
Center for Governmental Studies, NIU

Norman Walzer
Senior Research Scholar
Center for Governmental Studies, NIU