By Peter Elmlund.
In a newsletter from The New Localism group, former Brookings fellow Bruce Katz and cowriters call for a "Main Street Regenerator Program" as a response to the COVID-19 crisis. The main point is that governmental efforts to help small businesses should have a place focus, instead of just giving support to individual firms. The challenge for small firms to come back into business in the re-opening process is overwhelming. What is needed is a coordinated effort by all stakeholders in the downtowns, commercial corridors, Main Streets, and the like. The suggestion is that assigned “Regenerators” will lead this work and connect with:
“...city and town governments, anchor corporations, hospitals and universities, community development finance institutions, banks, small business relief funds, urban land banks, philanthropies, and other patient investors, redevelopment authorities, historic preservation societies, community colleges and skills providers, arts & culture associations, and many others.”
The work is suggested to focus on five areas:
Help re-fill vacant buildings.
Coordinate the reconfiguration of the streetscape to align with the new possibilities and challenges of the COVID-19 crisis.
Provide common services for small businesses that are located along the same commercial corridor
Act as master tenants within business districts.
Enhance access to capital for individual businesses and the district as a whole.