The Power of Transformation Strategies

Transformation Strategies are an integral part of the Main Street Approach. These strategies are unique to each downtown district and can be a powerful tool for a Main Street organization. They highlight a downtown product and/or service and a target consumer base to draw from / market to. Local demographic and retail market data, along with community feedback, help identify these strategies (think of them as strategic focus areas) and align a Main Street organization’s projects and activities with the current needs of the community. Keep in mind, this information will shift over time and should be revisited every few years.

The Main Street Approach has been centered around Transformation Strategies for many years, and they are getting more recognition this year as Main Street America (MSA) roles out their new accreditation standards. These standards outline what it takes to be a highly successful Main Street program. Virginia Main Street’s (VMS) Advancing Virginia Main Street (AVMS) programs are most impacted by the standards as they must be met in order to maintain national accreditation with MSA and subsequent AVMS designation. All Main Street programs can utilize these standards as a pathway, and Transformation Strategies can be found in Standard IV: Strategy-Driven Programming.

Main Street America, in partnership with VMS, offers a Transformation Strategies service. This service consists of three main parts—a community input survey, market data analysis, and community input forums attended by property owners, developers, business owners, elected officials, local municipality employees, and other key stakeholders.

Fredericksburg Virginia Main Street (FVMS) recently engaged in the Transformation Strategies service. Ahead of MSA’s visit, they pushed the online community input survey out to their community and received 384 responses. This feedback provided valuable information such as likes and dislikes of downtown, when and how often respondents visit downtown, and what businesses or destinations are attractions. Additional input was solicited during the in-person sessions facilitated by MSA and attended by community members, including downtown business and property owners, employees, residents, customers, local leaders, and more. Main Street America utilized this feedback, along with the demographic, income, retail demand, and consumer data to recommend Transformation Strategies for FVMS. The recommended strategies include strengthening marketing and communications to residents, downtown workers, and the University of Mary Washington’s students, faculty and families. Additionally, FVMS identified organizational sustainability and capacity building as a key focus area for the next year or two, as they come out of COVID and are under new leadership.

One month later, the FVMS Board of Directors engaged in a strategic planning process to organize activities and projects around the Four Points: Economic Vitality, Design, Promotion, and Organization through the lens of their newly adopted Transformation Strategies. Next, the board, staff and committees will work to fully develop their annual work plans. This information will help the board with resource planning—including budgeting, staff hours, and volunteer recruitment—and ensure a comprehensive approach to their efforts.

Interested in learning more about Transformation Strategies? Reach out to your VMS Program Administrator, and be sure to attend the Switch to Six webinar that will dive deeper into Strategy-Driven Programming!