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NC Main Street & Rural Planning Center

The NC Main Street & Rural Planning Center works in regions, counties, cities, towns, downtown districts, and in designated North Carolina Main Street communities, to inspire place making through building asset-based economic development strategies that achieve measurable results such as investment, business growth, and jobs.

The NC Main Street & Rural Planning Center administers programs within the Rural Economic Development Division of the N.C. Department of Commerce.

Rural NC Community Economic Development Resources & Training 

The NC Main Street & Rural Planning Center is tasked to provide technical assistance to rural

NC communities.  This training website helps meet the needs of the communities that we serve.

We hope communities will utilize these resources to facilitate training with their own staff and volunteers.  


NC Main Street Program 


The NC Main Street & Rural Planning Center is North Carolina's state coordinating program for Main Street America. Main Street America is a program of the nonprofit National Main Street Center, a subsidiary of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.  The National Main Street Center leads a movement committed to strengthening communities through preservation-based economic development in older and historic downtowns and neighborhood commercial districts.

NC Main Street staff are charged by the NC Department of Commerce to facilitate downtown economic development, using the Main Street America Four Point Approach, in designated communities.  The Main Street Approach™ is centered around economic development strategies that will transform downtown. These strategies articulate a focused path to revitalizing or strengthening a downtown economy.  Designated NC Main Street community's work should be organized around the Four Point Approach: Economic Vitality, Design, Promotion, and Organization.

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NC Main Street
Rusty Brick Wall

NC Rural Planning Program


Part of the NC Main Street & Rural Planning Center (MS&RP Center), the Rural Planning program works with municipalities, county governments, and other organizations in rural areas to provide strategic economic development planning and implementation services, technical support, and training. Such services help communities prepare for and respond to potential economic growth opportunities in ways that improve quality of life and prosperity, build community capacity, and maintain the character of rural areas. Rural Planning program staff located in North Carolina’s eight Prosperity Zones facilitate economic development planning for communities and have developed relationships with local leaders in all 100 counties. Prosperity Zone planners work in regions throughout the state: the West (Sylva), Northwest (Morganton), Piedmont‐Triad (Winston‐Salem), Southwest (Albemarle), North Central (Clayton), Sandhills/ South Central (Fayetteville), Northeast (Greenville), and Southeast (Morehead City). Other Rural Planning program staff are based in Asheville, Raleigh, and Wilmington.

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NC Rural Planning
NC Main to Main Trail

NC Main to Main Trail


The NC Main to Main Trail is a unique way to experience North Carolina communities. Since 1980, the State of North Carolina has been selecting cities and towns of all sizes to carry the distinction as designated North Carolina Main Street communities. These communities are actively engaged in the Main Street America network and are following the Main Street Approach™ to revitalize their downtown districts. 

From the Great Smokies and the Blue Ridge Mountains, the urban growth of the Piedmont, to the eastern inner banks to the coastal plains, Main Street communities are destinations. Each downtown district features architectural treasures from typical commercial buildings, governmental icons, and cultural attractions. Locally owned shops, restaurants, and spirits offer the communities many unique options. Stroll the tree-lined streets to take in the flavor of the district and gain the perspective of why the locals call their community home.  

The NC Main to Main Trail leads you through the state’s designated Main Street communities, highlighting each town’s best downtown and outdoor experiences, and providing links to the local Main Street program,  VisitNC and the local tourism websites, so that you don’t miss a thing as you trek the NC Main to Main Trail.

Learn More

North Carolina Award Winning

Projects & People


Annual Awards:


Each year at the Annual NC Main Street Conference, The NC Department of Commerce and The NC Main Street & Rural Planning Center announce the NC Main Street Award Winners.  The NC Main Street Awards recognize the hard work, dedication, and success of our NC Main Street communities and their achievements in the following categories:

  • ECONOMIC VITALITY:  Best Economic Development Incentive Program, Best Adaptive Reuse Project, Best Infill Building Project, Best Upper Story Redevelopment, Best Endangered Properties Rescue Effort, Best Business Retention, Expansion, or Recruitment Effort

  • DESIGN: Best Facade Rehabilitation Project for More than $15,000, Best Facade Rehabilitation Project for Less than $15,000, Best Public Building Improvement, Best Outdoor Space Improvement, Best Historic Rehabilitation Project

  • PROMOTION: Best Downtown Special Event or Event Series, Best Retail Promotion, Best Image-Building Campaign

  • ORGANIZATION: Best Public-Private Partnership in Downtown Revitalization, Best Healthy Community Initiative, Best Economic Recovery Initiative, Best Social Justice Initiative, Best Public Relations Effort, Best Fundraising Effort, Best Volunteer Recruitment, Training, and Recognition

NC Main Street Champions:


In addition to the NC Main Street Awards, The NC Main Street & Rural Planning Center annually recognizes the efforts of dedicated individuals who have contributed to the success of the local programs across our state. Each NC Main Street program may designate one individual, couple, or organization as their community’s NC Main Street Champion. A non-competitive award, designation honors those persons who have made extraordinary contributions to their downtown.

We are proud of these award winning projects and the champion that make a significant impact in the communities where they live.

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