25 Great Ways to Use Your Main Street Reinvestment Statistics
All local Main Street revitalization organizations collect reinvestment statistics as part of their work. It is universal throughout the movement and a critical information piece for the National Trust Main Street Center’s annual monitoring of trends across the country.
Traditionally each state program develops their collecting mechanism and then has local program report monthly or quarterly. Here are some of the reinvestment statistics that are usually collected. —
- Number of jobs new/lost —
- Number of biz new/lost —
- Number of façade improvements —
- Number of new construction projects —
- Number of housing units —
- Public sector investment —
- Private sector investment —
- Number of volunteer hours —
- How many private building sales there have been —
- Increase sale price of similar sized buildings
But after you go through the effort of tracking down these numbers from City Hall, the chamber, local businesses, the county assessor’s office, and from your volunteers, do you actually use these stats? We have been thinking about the many ways to use these stats in the everyday life of a local Main Street program and offer the following 25 suggestions.
- Covert your most important reinvestment statistics into charts and graphs to make them more understandable and useful/colorful. Chart the increase in your volunteer hours as a bar chart graph. Show your new business openings as a part of a pie chart of all businesses in the district. Trend lines can be very easy to understand if you have several years of data to share.
- Post your stats on your web site every year as proof of the worthiness of investing in your organization. Your stats can be compelling reading, even if you are a start up organization. Include them each year in the same place on your web site, such as a "Successes” tab on your web site, where you show off your best work.
- Include appropriate stats on the narrative portions of your IRS 990 tax return. Every IRS 990 document is available on www.Guidestar.com for everyone to see. You may as well include the most significant increases in this document which you must make available to the public upon request. While you are at it, review and add to your GuideStar organizational profile and include the key stats there too.
- Create trend lines for specific stats on your web site. Use other graphs to show how your downtown work is making a real difference.
- Use your stats and trend lines in your Annual Report. An Annual Report is an excellent tool to tell your story. Other than photos of happy people having happy times at your events, the graphics and charts of your reinvestment figures are key information points that you can boast about.
- Organize your annual meeting presentation around the unveiling of your stats.
- Stats are proof of good work and are excellent for use in grant applications to public and private foundations. They show in clear form, the progress being made by your organization over time.
- It is often essential to sell your worth to local government for their annual investment in your program. Your stats show tangible evidence of value in numbers that bureaucrats understand. Comparative numbers, especially if available from your state coordinating program, may prove helpful if your stats are especially good.
- Your stats and those of the other local Main Street programs when collected together are the strongest tool you have to use to lobby for continued support for your state coordinating program. Whether you have an independent advisory or friends of group for your state Main Street program, or not, the statewide reinvestment statistics are critical to show state legislators of the real economic benefit that the state Main Street program brings to local communities.
- Volunteers like to know they are involved with a popular program. What better way to show that through the number of volunteer hours donated each year? Tracking these stats monthly through sign in sheets at committee meetings help the Committee chair to keep tabs on the many ways volunteers contribute to the success of the local Main Street effort.
- Use your volunteer hours in any volunteer orientation presentation that you host. Identify the dollar value of a volunteer hour in your state by looking it up on www.volunteeringinamerica.gov. The Federal Department of Labor calculates this value each year. Do the math for your program and make sure local elected officials know how much time and in dollar value the community residents give back to the community for the downtown effort.
- Your stats are great for general PR purposes. Sprinkle appropriate ones in each press release you send. For example you can include a sentence about the trends in new business openings when you welcome a new business to town.
- Make sure you tell the world about your successes by using your stats in the “About Us” section of your web site.
- Every press release should have a short “about our organization” paragraph at the bottom of the news release. Up date yours to include some good and compelling stats.
- Most local programs have a general PowerPoint show that the use for presentations to the Rotary and other service clubs. Make sure that at least one slide has some of your stats in graphic form showing the ongoing trends in your program.
- When you announce your stats for the year, dedicate one e-blast or newsletter showing your incredible story.
- Pitch a story to the local reporter about some trends you see based on your reinvestment statistics.
- Create a media event around the release of your reinvestment stats each year. Hold a press conference with key local economic development leaders, and elected officials.
- Use the stats throughout the year for “Did you know? “ Facebook posts. These are great for a slow news day when you don’t have other news to share, and you can spread your stats over several months.
- Your statistics are especially useful in your business recruitment/retention packet. New business owners want to know how many new businesses have located in your district, and how many new hires have occurred. They also want to know if property values are going up or how vacancies have plummeted—all because your program works hard to keep, expand and get new businesses to come into downtown
- Your stats can help you get more sponsors. Use your stats about new business openings to attract new sponsors to existing events.
- Use some stats in your annual appeal letters. Individual donors to local Main Street organizations want to know about successes, so they know they are contributing to a winning organization. Promote especially volunteer hours, vacancy reductions, and new business opening s because these are things people see every day as they use the district.
- People who are being recruited to your Board to serve, may understand how their committee works, but not the whole organization. By reviewing the entire set of reinvestment statistics with new board candidates, you can explain how each committee contributes to the success of the organization, and make the potential Board member a better ambassador for the organization
- The local Main Street Executive Director donates the most hours to the Main Street organization because they are paid to work 40 hours a week and often work 60. Make sure these volunteer hours are included in your overall volunteer hours. The Executive Director should also keep track of these numbers and share them with Board members during evaluations or to justify a new staff hire.
- Committee chairs are the ones who collect the volunteer statistics for their committee each month. As the role of chairperson of the committee changes each year, the outgoing chair can review these stats with their replacement. These stats can reinforce the value of volunteer involvement in the Main Street effort, but also as a supervision tool for continued performance. And as a bonus-here is one more....
- Finally, the reinvestment statics are essential for painting the big picture about the success of your organization when you are ready to apply for Great American Main Street award. Five communities a year are awarded the highest honor the Main Street movement bestows annually. Your reinvestment statistics can set your organization apart from your competitors.
We hope these ideas are useful to you.