Friday, April 14, 2017
Main Streets Finding Their Way
Mary Newsom's excellent coverage of the North Carolina Main Street Conference examines the work of a main street program that has been supporting the state's cities and towns as they try to get their Main Streets to work. This is hard work, and it takes cooperation and a vision. I saw this work in process in Mount Morris, NY, a few years ago. People there were benefitted from a major investor who wanted to help bring the Main Street back. But that is only the beginning of the work. Then it takes people ready to roll up their sleeves and get to back on their specific dreams and ideas. But the point I want to make here is that people usually connect the demise of Main Street with the rise of the Malls. We rarely make the much more important association to deindustrialization. North Carolina, like Virginia, had lots of mills making furniture, for example, and these nearly all folded as industry went overseas for cheaper labor. Beth Macy has told this story in her amazing book, Factory Man, about a factory owner who chose to fight and thereby saved a town. People need money to spend in order for Main Street to really prosper and we should never forget that.