By Michael Wilson – The movie review website Rotten Tomatoes describes the 1971 movie, “The Last Picture Show” as being set in a dying Texas town. The exterior shots show a town, much like many in parts of rural Texas, where storefronts are boarded up, buildings need repair, and people are leaving and not coming back. Even though the movie was shot over 50 years ago, the reality is there are many rural Texas towns that today are hanging on by a thread. Many people have laid the blame for the rural to urban migration on any one of multiple issues. A lack of an economic base, a lack of health care options, a lack of options for young people, or just a general feeling of needing to find a better life. Many organizations have suggested possible remedies to the problems, however, many of the solutions focus on only one part of the problem. There is one program put forth by the State of Texas, “The Texas Main Street Program” that seems to offer a good starting point for any Texas town that is looking to begin revitalizing itself.
What is the Texas Main Street Program? The program was established in 1980 as part of a national effort to help revitalize historic downtowns. The main street program provides technical expertise, resources, and support to towns seeking to improve their economic vitality. There are four points to the approach taken by the program managers. Organization of the various groups that make up each community to come forth with a unified vision for the downtown area. Promotion of the town, by creating a quality image and presentation of the business district including activities, and goods and services. Design focusing on the historical foundation of the town including the assets and heritage, by focusing on rehabilitating buildings and the introduction of ordinances to help enhance the quality of life. Economic vitality is perhaps one of the most intriguing points, in that the program managers try to locate new businesses for the downtown or property investors.
There are currently 90 towns and cities in Texas that are a part of this ongoing program, for more information on the program itself, go HERE
To learn how to become a Main Street Community go HERE