Some people think of a ‘main streets’ organization as a bunch of mom and pop business owners who hold sidewalk sales. In reality, Main Streets is a national economic development model launched over 35 years ago, with a proven track record in over 2,000 communities nationwide, of creating new jobs and businesses while also rehabilitating countless historic buildings and revitalizing thousands of main streets and disinvested commercial corridors. Main Streets was developed with the understanding that small steps, small businesses, small deals and small developments can add up to big impact. Building small is sometimes harder, more time consuming and less flashy than building the one big thing, but it is also more realistic, more cost effective and more durable than putting all your eggs into one big project. A city’s image is formed almost entirely by the perception of the vibrancy of their downtown so by working toward creating a ’destination’, Peabody has the ability to attract and retain residents as well as talent, not just downtown, but city wide. The Main Streets program provides a framework to focus on Economic Vitality (working with existing property owners and attracting new investment), Design (creating a look & feel to the district), and Promotions (marketing the destination and hosting events to bring people downtown), allowing multiple priorities to be worked on simultaneously.
To date, $4.2 million has been invested in infrastructure upgrades and improvements; 40 new housing units have been added, 11 projects currently in development and the Lease it Local program provided $27,000 to help launch 3 new businesses including Create & Escape DIY Workshop, Granite Coast Brewing and Jovi Boutique. Through a façade improvement program 16 buildings have been updated and 50 signs upgraded or replaced. There have been 28 public art projects, 54 trees planted or replaced and 6 river clean up projects. Downtown is being marketed as a destination through a partnership with the North of Boston Visitors and Conventions Bureau, livepeabody.com website, social media channels as well as marketing campaigns. Annual events such as the Pop Up Pubs, Pop Up Markets, Nightmare on Main Street and Holiday Stroll attract hundreds of individuals and families who are then exposed to our restaurants, performance venues, retail stores and service providers.
Although Peabody Main Streets works closely with the City of Peabody, it is an all-volunteer driven organization, formed in 2016 as a non-profit entity working to create a desirable place to live, an enjoyable place to visit and a supportive place to build a business. Funding for projects comes mainly from grants and revenue generated by events.