Three Main Street America Staff members standing in front of a mural in Marion, Iowa.

Marion, Iowa © Tasha Sams

About

We work in collaboration with thousands of local partners and grassroots leaders across the nation who share our commitment to advancing shared prosperity, creating resilient economies, and improving quality of life.

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Two community members in Emporia Kansas pose with a sign saying "I'm a Main Streeter"

Emporia, Kansas © Emporia Main Street

Our Network

Made up of small towns, mid-sized communities, and urban commercial districts, the thousands of organizations, individuals, volunteers, and local leaders that make up Main Street America™ represent the broad diversity that makes this country so unique.

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Dionne Baux and MSA partner working in Bronzeville, Chicago.

Chicago, Illinois © Main Street America

Resources

Looking for strategies and tools to support you in your work? Delve into the Main Street Resource Center and explore a wide range of resources including our extensive Knowledge Hub, professional development opportunities, field service offerings, advocacy support, and more!

Overview Knowledge Hub Field Services Government Relations Main Street Now Conference Main Street America Institute Small Business Support Allied Member Services The Point Members Area
People riding e-scooters in Waterloo, Iowa

Waterloo, Iowa © Main Street Waterloo

The Latest

Your one-stop-shop for all the latest stories, news, events, and opportunities – including grants and funding programs – across Main Street.

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Woman and girl at a festival booth in Kendall Whittier, Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Kendall Whittier — Tulsa, Oklahoma © Kendall Whittier Main Street

Get Involved

Join us in our work to advance shared prosperity, create strong economies, and improve quality of life in downtowns and neighborhood commercial districts.

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Three Main Street America Staff members standing in front of a mural in Marion, Iowa.

Marion, Iowa © Tasha Sams

About

We work in collaboration with thousands of local partners and grassroots leaders across the nation who share our commitment to advancing shared prosperity, creating resilient economies, and improving quality of life.

Overview Who We Are How We Work Partner Collaborations Our Supporters Our Team Job Opportunities Contact Us
Two community members in Emporia Kansas pose with a sign saying "I'm a Main Streeter"

Emporia, Kansas © Emporia Main Street

Our Network

Made up of small towns, mid-sized communities, and urban commercial districts, the thousands of organizations, individuals, volunteers, and local leaders that make up Main Street America™ represent the broad diversity that makes this country so unique.

Overview Coordinating Programs Main Street Communities Collective Impact Awards & Recognition Community Evaluation Framework Join the Movement
Dionne Baux and MSA partner working in Bronzeville, Chicago.

Chicago, Illinois © Main Street America

Resources

Looking for strategies and tools to support you in your work? Delve into the Main Street Resource Center and explore a wide range of resources including our extensive Knowledge Hub, professional development opportunities, field service offerings, advocacy support, and more!

Overview Knowledge Hub Field Services Government Relations Main Street Now Conference Main Street America Institute Small Business Support Allied Member Services The Point Members Area
People riding e-scooters in Waterloo, Iowa

Waterloo, Iowa © Main Street Waterloo

The Latest

Your one-stop-shop for all the latest stories, news, events, and opportunities – including grants and funding programs – across Main Street.

Overview News & Stories Events & Opportunities Subscribe
Woman and girl at a festival booth in Kendall Whittier, Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Kendall Whittier — Tulsa, Oklahoma © Kendall Whittier Main Street

Get Involved

Join us in our work to advance shared prosperity, create strong economies, and improve quality of life in downtowns and neighborhood commercial districts.

Overview Join Us Renew Your Membership Donate Partner With Us Job Opportunities
People sit at large round tables set-up in the middle of a street.

West Chester, Pennsylvania © West Chester Business Improvement District

West Chester Business Improvement District in West Chester, Pennsylvania, was one of the three winners of the 2017 Great American Main Street Award (GAMSA). Made possible through support from PNC Bank and selected by a national jury of community development professionals and leaders in the fields of economic development and historic preservation, the award winners serve as exceptional models for comprehensive, preservation-based commercial district revitalization. West Chester Business Improvement District was recognized for its efforts preserving the area’s historic and cultural heritage while modernizing the neighborhood into a fine-dining destination.


Main Street America Program: West Chester Business Improvement District
Coordinating Program: PA Downtown Center
Year Organization Founded: 2000
Population: 19,842
Public and Private Reinvestment: $273,000,000
Net New Businesses: 241
Buildings/​Structures Rehabilitated: 78

Visit West Chester Business Improvement District
Large sign reading "Chester County Historical Society" (foreground) with a two-story brick building behind it.

The Chester County Historical Society is a major attraction in downtown West Chester providing a genealogical library and historic exhibits. © Malcolm Johnstone

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West Chester’s transformation over the past 17 years has been truly remarkable,” said Patrice Frey, President and CEO of Main Street America. The town has always had great architectural heritage but under West Chester Business Improvement District’s leadership, it has grown into a haute cuisine mecca, drawing not just locals but visitors from surrounding areas.”

Sidewalk dining is a hallmark of the city’s thriving food scene, combining the best of West Chester — delicious eats and historic architecture. West Chester has 64 restaurants and more than 75 retail stores all within walking distance of the downtown area. In addition, the annual Chester County Restaurant festival attracts foodies from all over the country.

It was a challenge to bring a new vitality to our downtown more than a decade ago so it’s especially exciting to now gain recognition for our hard work,” said Malcolm Johnstone, Executive Director of West Chester Business Improvement District. The completion of the historic courthouse renovation and the opening of a new hotel and theater are just some visible signs of the area’s revitalization but it truly was the partnership between local, regional, and national organizations that helped West Chester flourish into a vibrant community.”

Since 2000, under the leadership of West Chester Business Improvement District, the town has improved the business vacancy rate from 22 percent to 4 percent, adding close to 250 new businesses and created some 1,000 jobs for the area.

  • People sit at sidewalk dining tables outside an eatery.

    Sidewalk dining is a hallmark of the West Chester foodie scene. © B. Krist

  • People peruse artworks in a gallery.

    Gallery Walk events bring customers to boutiques and galleries. © Malcolm Johnstone

Located 35-mile west of Philadelphia, West Chester is a lush green town with 4,200 architectures listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The town is proud of its collection of buildings designed by Thomas U. Walter, who later went on to design the Capitol in Washington, D.C. Several structures around West Chester feature Walter’s Greek Revival-style including the First Presbyterian Church of West Chester, Bank of Chester County, and Chester County Courthouse.

Tours of the city’s historic architecture are available thanks to local government efforts. In 2002, the West Chester Historical and Architectural Review Board published a 75-page design guidelines for historic preservation. In 2005, West Chester invested $2.3 million and renovated the West Chester Public Library, which was built in 1888.

The transformation that West Chester has gone through reflects our country’s development from a simple agricultural community to an industrial community over the past two centuries,” Johnstone said. We’re proud to maintain our historic heritage while continuously growing as a vibrant community that connects people from all walks of life.”

  • Greek Revival courthouse building with a tall steeple.

    The iconic Chester County Courthouse (b. 1846) design by Thomas U. Walter. © Malcolm Johnstone

  • Mid-century modern movie theater with a large vertical marquee reading "Warner."

    Warner Theater circa 1930. © Chester County Historical Society

  • Exterior façade of a mid-century modern hotel.

    The Warner Theater was re-purposed and now operates as the Warner Hotel. © Timlyn Vaughan

Part of West Chester’s charm is that it’s home to West Chester University, which was ranked among the top 50 college towns by College Rank in 2016. The university welcomes over 15,000 students each year, including international students from more than 40 countries. The diverse student population coupled with strong academic credentials has attracted entrepreneurs, startups and high-tech companies to the area and created job opportunities.

West Chester is like a microcosm of a diverse, metropolitan city. When you walk on the street, within few steps, you can experience something different,” Johnstone said. Our diversity is a blend of the old and modern, and multiple ethnic cultures. We are proud of the beautiful friendships among neighbors of all origins.”