MAPLEWOOD, NJ — The New Jersey Department of Community Affairs announced Sept. 30 the designation of four new communities to the Main Street New Jersey Program, an initiative aimed at encouraging and supporting the revitalization of downtown business districts throughout the state. With the designation, downtown districts in Maplewood, Bernardsville, Fair Lawn and Toms River can now receive technical assistance and training in how to restore their main streets as centers of community and economic activity.
This is the first time in six years that the MSNJ Program has added new communities to its roster. There are now 23 communities participating in the program.
“Our Main Street New Jersey Program has shown that when a community participates in a comprehensive revitalization effort, its downtown can experience a return of economic vitality,” said Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver, who serves as DCA commissioner. “We welcome these newly designated communities into the program and look forward to helping them take full advantage of all the resources and training that is now available to strengthen their downtowns and create a positive image of their business district.”
Since it was established in 1989, the MSNJ Program has brought significant numbers of new businesses and jobs to the downtown districts participating in the program. In addition, facade improvements and building rehabilitation projects have upgraded the image of downtown business districts across the state.
The MSNJ Program is a coordinating program of Main Street America, which is a subsidiary of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The Main Street America approach is to help downtown districts develop a transformation strategy around four main points — economic vitality, design, promotion and organization — that is unique to their community and based on local and regional market data.
Designated MSNJ communities receive an array of services, including customized design assistance, access to state and national specialists, training on key downtown issues, and ongoing marketing and promotions support. They can also receive grant funding for small business support and neighborhood improvement projects.
The Springfield Avenue Partnership in Maplewood is a nonprofit corporation that is committed to creating a stable, diverse and friendly commercial district along Springfield Avenue in Maplewood. It promotes local businesses, works to attract new businesses, and performs services such as cleaning sidewalks, maintaining an online business directory and database of available commercial space, and assisting with facade renovation projects.
“Over the years, both public and private investment have built up Springfield Avenue, remaking it from a county thoroughfare to a neighborhood business corridor. For this community effort, Springfield Avenue and the Springfield Avenue Partnership are honored to receive the Main Street New Jersey designation,” partnership Executive Director Nicole Wallace said. “In the coming year, the partnership aims to invest in placemaking and wayfinding, and to increase the number and diversity of events.”
“Springfield Avenue is a cornerstone of Maplewood and as a municipality we are always looking for ways to enhance our business district,” Mayor Frank McGehee said. “Being named a new Main Street New Jersey district provides the opportunity for our bustling area of commerce to strengthen its live, work, play and learn environment and add tasteful signage, which will enhance the dining and shopping experience of patrons and residents throughout New Jersey. Thank you for this honor.”