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.

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.

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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
Aerial view of downtown buildings along a riverfront.

Wheeling, West Virginia © Glenn Elliott

Wheeling Heritage in Wheeling, West Virginia, was one of three winners of the 2019 Great American Main Street Award (GAMSA), which recognizes communities for their excellence in comprehensive preservation-based commercial district revitalization. Selected by a national jury of community development professionals and leaders in the fields of economic development and historic preservation, Wheeling Heritage was recognized for transforming their once blighted downtown into a thriving destination with a strong small business community.


Main Street America Program: Wheeling Heritage
Coordinating Program: Main Street West Virginia and ON TRAC
Year Organization Founded: 2015
Population: 27,066
Public and Private Reinvestment: $48,841,500
Net New Businesses: 37
Buildings/​Structures Rehabilitated:
124

Visit Wheeling Heritage
Blue street banners hang alongside a street pole.

Downtown banners celebrate Wheeling’s past and vibrant future. © Glenn Elliott

Video

In only a few years, Wheeling Heritage has changed the narrative around what is possible for their downtown,” said Main Street America and CEO Patrice Frey. Wheeling Heritage has brought significant economic opportunity to their Main Street, harnessed the neighborhood’s historic character, and helped residents believe in the future of their community.”

Located along the Ohio River, Wheeling experienced significant disinvestment in the 1980s and 90s as retailers went to suburban shopping malls and major local industries suffered losses. When Wheeling’s Main Street program launched in 2015, their downtown’s vacancy rate stood at 32 percent. Now, after generating nearly $50 million in total investment downtown, the vacancy rate has decreased to 15 percent and 124 buildings have seen improvements.

  • Downtown street lined with brightly colored historic buildings and street banners promoting the Centre Market.

    Centre Market, built in 1853, is the oldest cast iron market house in the country. © Ben Muldrow

  • People stretch their arms skyward while standing on yoga mats.

    Yoga on the Lawn draws large crowds to the banks of the Ohio River. © Chris Villamagna

We’ve been successful because we are cognizant of the ever-changing nature of our community. While we’ve taken great strides, our work isn’t done,” said Alex Weld, Project and Outreach Manager at Wheeling Heritage, who oversees Wheeling’s Main Street program. We continuously evaluate and adapt our programming to address pressing needs in the community, which we feel is the best way to help Wheeling continue to flourish.”

Thanks to a growing downtown shopping, dining, and arts scene, anchored by the iconic Capitol Theater and Centre Market Historic District, more people are living in downtown Wheeling than ever before. Once vacant buildings, including a warehouse and former department store, have been transformed into unique living spaces. While there were no multi-family market-rate apartments in 2015, there are now 100 new multi-family, market-rate units in Wheeling’s historic downtown.

People look at photographs displayed in an art gallery.

Art of Inclusion” exhibition featuring photographs of LGBTQ+ community members and narratives written by their loved ones helped to break down stereotypes, start a conversation, and showcase art and community. © Matt Myles

Wheeling Heritage has also worked to cultivate a strong small business community. From launching a live community crowd-funding event for new business ideas called Show of Hands, to bringing an international entrepreneur training program to assist new business owners, Wheeling Heritage has been creative in their approach to community-based economic development. These programs have yielded positive results. Over the past three years, their downtown has added 37 net new businesses.

  • People sit around a long conference table working in pairs.

    CO.STARTERS entrepreneurship training program. © Alex Weld

  • Women wearing traditional Greek clothing joyously dance on a downtown street.

    Dancers at the annual Greek Festival. © WV Tourism Office

It’s an honor to receive national recognition for the impact of our work,” said Jake Dougherty, Executive Director of Wheeling Heritage. While all of us here in Wheeling see the progress the city has made, it’s always nice to see people outside of the city recognize our progress and potential. Although we were selected for work that has been done in the past four years, this is built off decades of effort by many people.”

Main Street West Virginia Coordinator Nikki Martin echoed Dougherty. Wheeling is an outstanding example of how West Virginians can work together to achieve downtown revitalization and improve quality of life. Under the leadership of Alex Weld and Jake Dougherty, and with phenomenal support from the board, volunteers, businesses, community, and local government over the years — you see the amazing results that come when people come together to love their downtown.”