These two districts are helping lay the groundwork for Fort Worth to join just five other cities in the country – Washington D.C., Boston, Baltimore, Chicago and Orlando – to become a Main Street coordinating city.
City leaders recently announced the two business corridors that will become part of Fort Worth’s first pilot program through a partnership with Main Street America.
The winning corridors are Historic Northside, whose managing organization is the Fort Worth Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and Polytechnic, whose managing organization is Southeast Fort Worth, Inc.
The two corridors were chosen following a competitive RFP process.
“We’re really happy to announce this partnership with the City of Fort Worth, as this is the very first city in Texas to provide this level of financial support and technical assistance to support programs developing revitalization in its commercial corridors,” said Dionne Baux, vice president of urban development with Main Street America.
“Small businesses are the heart and soul of our local economy,” said Mayor Mattie Parker. “This partnership with Main Street America will strengthen the Historic Northside and Polytechnic business corridors over the next three years while celebrating their distinct traditions and the diverse heritage of the surrounding neighborhoods.”
As part of the three-year pilot program, each managing organization and their stakeholders will receive:
• Training from Main Street America to produce a transformation strategy customized to each business corridor, which contains actionable goals to spark economic growth in the district while also preserving each area’s cultural and historic assets.
• Funding to hire a full-time community-focused staff person dedicated to implementing the corridor’s transformation strategy.
• Funding to begin work on projects identified through the transformation strategy.
The city’s partnership with Main Street America is one of the tentpole initiatives of Fort Worth’s recently-launched Full-Strength Fort Worth revitalization strategy, which is focused on creating equitable economic vitality across the city so that all of its neighborhoods can operate at their full potential.
Equitable development is a key initiative outlined in the 2022 update of the city’s Economic Development Strategic Plan.
“As Fort Worth continues to grow, equity is more important than ever to our broader efforts across the city,” said Robert Sturns, the City’s director of economic development. “The strength of Fort Worth depends upon the strength of its neighborhoods and business corridors, and making sure all of these areas are set up for success. Our partnership with Main Street America will build on the foundations already established by the Fort Worth Hispanic Chamber and Southeast Fort Worth, Inc. to take these areas to the next level.”
The Historic Northside pilot program will focus on the historic preservation of both the buildings and the community located between the Fort Worth Stockyards and Panther Island. The program also calls for the establishment of a Hispanic small business hub within the district to foster and grow entrepreneurship opportunities.
This pilot program comes at a critical time for the area, given ongoing development in the Stockyards and anticipated growth near Panther Island. The focus for Historic Northside will be revitalizing the connecting corridor between these two growing areas of Fort Worth.
“I’m very proud that our city recognizes the need for focused, community-driven economic development initiatives for commercial corridors that have often felt overlooked,” said Anette Landeros, president and CEO of the Fort Worth Hispanic Chamber. “Our team is thrilled to leverage the valuable training being offered through Main Street America, and bring these city resources to the Historic Northside. We are a true Main Street that has so much potential for growth and success. This program will hopefully help us kickstart a new era for North Main Street.”
The Polytechnic pilot program will work towards the launch of a more focused placemaking economic development organization, while also preserving the area’s buildings and growing its existing small business hub. Southeast Fort Worth, Inc., the managing organization for the area, has partnered with Texas Wesleyan University to spearhead this initiative, and has already raised $75,000 to support programming as part of this project.
Like Historic Northside, Polytechnic’s pilot program comes at an important time for the community. Texas Wesleyan University is currently working on a new football stadium, as well as other strategies to transition their student population from commuters to campus residents – all of which has the potential to spur further development in the area.
“We’re thrilled that Polytechnic will be one of the first pilot districts for Fort Worth’s Main Street Program,” said Stacy Marshall, president of Southeast Fort Worth, Inc. “We’re hoping to leverage this program to spur more activity and opportunity along the Vaughn Blvd. business corridor, which connects Texas Wesleyan University to other parts of the community, like Renaissance Square.”
Main Street projects in other U.S. cities have had a major economic impact on their respective corridors. According to annual statistical data collected between 1980 and 2021, Main Street communities have generated $95 billion in local reinvestment, opened 161,000 net new businesses, produced 717,000 new jobs, and catalyzed the rehabilitation of 314,000 buildings.
The Fort Worth Local Development Corporation (LDC) set aside an $650,000 allocation in 2021 to fund this three-year pilot program for both districts.