Becoming a Main Street Community

Ongoing Changes to the Texas Main Street Program

The Texas Historical Commission has changed the schedule, criteria, and process for the designation of cities to the Texas Main Street Program (TMSP). There will NOT be a 2023 TMSP application cycle for 2024 entry. This pause will allow time for our staff to implement this new entry process that involves participation in a new Texas Associate Network prior to official designation.

Rather than apply immediately for the TMSP, we will invite communities to enter what is now referred to as the Texas Associate Network made up of select communities that have demonstrated an interest and basic investment in downtown revitalization. Associates can use the network for access to educational materials and training relevant to downtown commercial district challenges. A community participating in the Texas Associate Network will not be required to seek TMSP designation. Associates will be encouraged to utilize other resources, partnerships, and organizations such as Texas Downtown to round out their knowledge and skills.

The Texas Associate Network provides flexibility for communities that, although interested in the TMSP, are not ready to formally enter that program. A community desiring a Texas Main Street City designation will adopt benchmarks—to be completed at its own pace—that once met demonstrate viability for entry into the TMSP. Benchmarks will vary in complexity and provide a roadmap for communities and stakeholders to prepare for success in the Texas Main Street Program. The minimum time required for completing benchmarks will differ by community; however, it is anticipated that most communities will need six months or more in the Texas Associate Network to demonstrate viability for entry into the TMSP.

Over the coming months, our staff will outline a detailed path from the Texas Associate Network to the TMSP, with the intention of publishing that information by January 2024. Until that time, we ask for your patience so that we can serve our existing 89 TMSP communities effectively while establishing an improved entry process for new communities and launch the Texas Associate Network.

From Texas Associate Network to TMSP

Historic buildings in San Augustine Main Street district.

Aspects of the previous TMSP application process will remain in play but the timeline for tasks and decisions will shift to adhere to the new process. 

After meeting Texas Associate Network benchmarks, viable communities will be invited to apply to the TMSP. Completed applications will be evaluated independently by members of the TMSP Interagency Council, comprised of representatives from TMSP staff and various state agencies. Based on Council recommendations, the governor-appointed members of the Texas Historical Commission will determine final designations. 

An applicant from a community of less than 50,000 in population applies as a Small City program through its city government. An Urban City applicant (more than 50,000 population) may choose to apply either under local government or through a stand-alone nonprofit organization. Each year, the Texas Historical Commission may select up to five Texas cities or neighborhood commercial districts for official Main Street designation.

A copy of the 2023 Texas Main Street application is available below as a reference for communities who want to begin to explore the climate of their downtown relative to revitalization considerations. Much of the data requested in the 2023 application will be explored by Texas Associate Network participants as they consider the needs of their downtowns. Budget samples remain to emphasize that communities must have a realistic understanding of the financial investment required if considering entry to the TMSP. 

As noted, we will be releasing more information by November 2023. In the interim, we will not be performing site visits or meetings with communities and organizations interested in this new entry process. The coming months will be dedicated to establishing new processes and ensuring continued service to our existing Main Street network. You may email the Texas Main Street Program state coordinator, Amy Hammons, but will be referred back to this webpage during this transition period. 

Recent TMSP Communities Celebrate

Learn more about the Texas Main Street Program and local participants—even new communities—benefit from this nationally renowned methodology breathes new life into Texas downtowns!

Local, State, and National Network

Main Street participants attend Texas' Statewide Historic Preservation Plan workshop. For 40 years, the Texas Historical Commission (THC) has supported preservation-based downtown revitalization through its Texas Main Street Program (TMSP). Designated communities receive a range of services from the TMSP staff. Services include professional expertise provided to the local program––along with its downtown property and business owners––in the areas of design, preservation, downtown-specific economic development, organizational management, and small business development. Participating local programs may highlight districts and assets on THC’s proprietary website

TMSP staff also connect Main Street stakeholders to the wide range of services provided by THC preservation specialists. THC programs provide services that include assistance with regulatory compliance, finding preservation funding options for specific preservation needs, and identifying honorific opportunities that highlight what is best about your community.

Along with support at the state level, the Main Street designation also allows access to substantial downtown revitalization resources through the state and national Main Street community network. Currently there are 89 designated Main Street communities in Texas and approximately 2,000 Main Street communities nationwide.

Main Street America™ works with communities to build healthy downtowns by establishing a sense of place based on the distinctive assets within each community. More information at Main Street America.

Benefits for Texas Main Street Network Communities

Texas Main Street managers tour ongoing historic rehabilitation projects in Cuero. Participating local programs pay a nominal annual fee to access the following benefits:

  • Basic and comprehensive technical assistance to further economic development in the district.
  • Program capacity building and planning for the Main Street organization.
  • Access to resources for professional development and assistance with downtown issues.
  • Virtual and on-site training for Main Street managers, boards, and other program participants.
  • Main Street-specific professional development opportunities for participant communities, plus downtown revitalization and preservation education through the Texas Historical Commission's Real Places conference.
  • Product development based on need and staff workload, such as design schematics and reports for specific properties, market analysis for downtown districts, and strategic planning reports based upon a community’s individual needs.
  • A range of design services to help downtown property owners undertake effective rehabilitation, adaptive re-use, and infill projects, as well as reimagining public spaces in the district. 
  • Assistance to Main Street merchants and local programs to support branding and marketing efforts.
  • Access for non-entitlement communities to a Main Street-specific pool of improvement funds through the Main Street Improvements fund of the Texas Department of Agriculture. Texas Main Street communities have received almost $20 million from this program since 1993.