Main Street Gettysburg is selected to participate in pilot rural small business support program

Gettysburg, PA (February 9, 2023) – Main Street Gettysburg has been selected to participate in a new small business resiliency audit and resources pilot program. In partnership with Main Street America, Pennsylvania Downtown Center, and the PA Department of Community and Economic Development, Main Street Gettysburg will serve an important role in creating new tools to assist rural small business owners in identifying and responding to challenges. Financial support for this project comes from USDA’s Rural Business Development Grants program.

The global pandemic has had a devastating impact in rural communities throughout Pennsylvania, exasperating the unemployment rate and requiring small business owners to continually adapt to new economic realities. Additionally, there are extensive challenges and geographic constraints to delivering technical assistance to the over 30 million small businesses in the U.S., with those located in rural areas being disproportionately impacted.

Rural small businesses’ ability to navigate and respond to a number of emerging issues, such as workforce and supply chain constraints, as well as how to leverage new opportunities presented through social media and e-commerce, is crucial to preserving existing businesses and nurturing entrepreneurship. Some recent data demonstrate these needs:

  • 53% of small businesses did not have a digital commerce component to their business. And of those that did, it represented less than 10%; (MSA Study 2021) 
  • New business formation grew 48% from January 2020 to December 2021; (U.S. Census) 
  • 73% of small business owners expect to pivot their business model again in 2022; (American Express) 

In response, Main Street America—a national nonprofit commitment to preservation-based economic development and community revitalization in historic downtowns and neighborhood commercial corridors—is piloting the development of a model that creates more efficiencies in assessing and meeting the needs of rural small business at scale, in four existing rural Main Street communities in Pennsylvania. These communities include Danville, Oil City, Lewisburg, and Gettysburg.

“The Pennsylvania Downtown Center is thrilled to be a partner in the Small Business Resiliency Audit Tool & Resources Pilot,” said Julie Fitzpatrick, Executive Director at Pennsylvania Downtown Center. “Although we know that the tireless efforts of our Main Street programs have resulted in our communities experiencing a level of economic resiliency from the impact of the pandemic, we also recognize that there is a need for identifying persistent issues and finding creative common solutions to build and maintain sustainable and adaptable businesses.”

Over the next four to six months, Main Street Gettysburg will engage five small business owners and entrepreneurs through assessments, on-site focus groups, and interviews exploring challenges and areas of opportunity. Main Street America will research potential solutions and develop technical assistance materials, resources, and tools tailored to meet the needs of the participants.

“This is a unique opportunity for local businesses to benefit from a national Main Street project, focused specifically on rural communities,” said Jill Sellers, President of Main Street Gettysburg. “The goals include a better understanding of shared challenges, connecting businesses to the resources they need, and ultimately helping businesses adapt and get ahead.”

Main Street communities in New Mexico and South Carolina have also been selected to participate in this pilot program.

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ABOUT MAIN STREET GETTYSBURG

Main Street Gettysburg (MSG) was founded in 1984 as a non-profit organization to unite and lead the Gettysburg community in successful economic- and community development projects to enhance the quality of life for Gettysburg and Adams County residents. The Main Street Gettysburg mission is to work with community partners for the historic preservation, economic revitalization, and overall enhancement of Gettysburg, and the organization oversees ambitious initiatives and economic development strategies. Major accomplishments include a 10-year interpretive plan for historic preservation in the Borough of Gettysburg, which resulted in more than $55 million of downtown projects; the $7.5 million Steinwehr Avenue Revitalization Project, resulting in 29 new businesses in a five-year period that offered new jobs, additional ADA improvements and a safer and more beautiful neighborhood with updated infrastructure; the Main Street CARES Program that helped businesses reopen during the pandemic by providing free toolkits with handmade masks; latex gloves; homemade sanitizer; informational posters and social-distancing floor stickers to over 140 businesses; the Baltimore Street Project and the Gettysburg Welcome Center, which are both currently under consideration for federal funding. www.mainstreetgettysburg.org

ABOUT PENNSYLVANIA DOWNTOWN CENTER

Pennsylvania Downtown Center (PDC) is the only statewide nonprofit dedicated solely to the revitalization of the Commonwealth’s core communities. Primarily through the utilization of the National Main Street Center’s Refreshed Main Street Approach®, PDC provides outreach, technical assistance, and educational services to assist communities in revitalizing their central business districts and surrounding residential neighborhoods. Over the years, we have formed strategic partnerships with local and statewide organizations to further our mission of promoting community revitalization and reinvestment. Additionally, our centralized Harrisburg location allows us to interact with members of the PA legislature, advocating on behalf of downtown and neighborhood initiatives in the Commonwealth. Learn more at padowntown.org.

ABOUT MAIN STREET AMERICA

Main Street America leads a movement committed to strengthening communities through preservation-based economic development in older and historic downtowns and neighborhood commercial districts. For more than 40 years, Main Street America has provided a practical, adaptable, and impactful framework for community-driven, comprehensive revitalization through the Main Street Approach™. Our network of more than 1,200 neighborhoods and communities, rural and urban, share both a commitment to place and to building stronger communities through preservation-based economic development. Since 1980, communities participating in the program have leveraged more than $95.33 billion in new public and private investment generated 161,036 net new businesses and 717,723 net new jobs and rehabilitated more than 314,431 buildings. Main Street America is a nonprofit subsidiary of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. For more information, visitmainstreet.org.

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