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Main Street - Main Street makes economic sense
Teresa Prober.jpg
Teresa Prober

As you walk the streets in downtown McMinnville, I hope you take it all in, the beauty that is. With spring on its way, downtown will paint a gorgeous canvas for people to enjoy.  

However, what many don’t see is the economics behind the beauty. The three major indicators that measure economic impact are job creation, increase in household income, and demand created on other industries. Small business is the No. 1 creator of jobs in America.

Downtowns have the perfect environment for small business. There are a wide range of building styles, sizes, and types to choose from. Typically rent/ lease and sale price is comparatively lower. Lower rent/ mortgage not only increases the chance of a business surviving, it allows for monies to be put toward increasing product line, hiring additional employees, or possible expansion. Dollar for dollar, historic preservation is one the highest job-generating economic development options.

Labor cost for new construction averages 50 percent of total cost. Rehabbing historic structures are more labor intensive, with labor making up 70 percent of cost. Local carpenters, electricians, plumbers, etc., are usually hired for rehab projects. They shop and eat downtown.  

U.S. Labor Department statistics show state after state building rehab outperforms new construction when it comes to number of jobs created and the impact on other industries.

Beginning in 1980, Main Street America has collected economic data from Main Street communities across America. 

From 1980 to 2018, dollars reinvested $78.98 billion, buildings rehabilitated 284,936, net gain in jobs 640,017, and net gain in businesses 143,613. Keep in mind not all downtowns are Main Street communities, which means these statistics are actually higher for each category.

Downtown McMinn-ville’s combined economic impact for 2018 and 2019 show private and public investment at $2,008,741, net gain in jobs 35, net gain in new businesses 11, and a total of 42 building rehabilitation projects. 

Historic preservation also reflects fiscal responsibility. Think about it. The cost of constructing the building has already been paid. The longer a building sits vacant it is a loss in jobs that could be created, loss of tax revenue, loss to the owner whether private, (individual or corporation) or a public entity (local, state, or federal government).

Not only is it a loss in possible revenue to the building owner, the building is on the tax roll that the owner/ owners are responsible for paying. Vacant buildings are lost opportunities, as well as reflect fiscal irresponsibility.

Here at Main Street McMinnville, it is our goal to promote downtown revitalization through historic preservation, support downtown businesses, and recruit new businesses. Want to join us? We have individual membership and business level membership. 

For more information, visit our website, email me at, or call 931-506-5335.

Teresa Prober is executive director of Main Street McMinnville.