Local efforts to create the vibrant downtown that we enjoy in Denton today began almost three decades ago when Denton became a Certified Main Street City. The Main Street Approach to downtown revitalization is a national, time-tested framework for community-driven, comprehensive revitalization of aging city centers. When Denton began its program in 1990, the downtown vacancy rate was 30 percent. Today, the rate is less than 2 percent.
The City of Denton and the non-profit Denton Main Street Association (DMSA) have enjoyed a successful partnership for the past 27 years. DMSA manages festivals, merchant promotions, membership, and some aspects of marketing. The City's Department of Economic Development assists merchants with business retention, expansion and relocation; physical improvement projects; capital improvement projects; works with public and private sector organizations to facilitate downtown improvements (including beautification, landscaping, street furniture, banners, solid waste services, and infrastructure); and works with other city departments to ensure that economic development projects are progressing in a timely manner.
Now in its 27th year as a certified Texas and National Main Street City, the partnership has spearheaded major improvements, economic growth, events and awareness downtown. Since the inception of Denton's program, 436 buildings have been rehabilitated and $132.3 million has been invested in downtown for a net gain of 347 new businesses and 2,410 jobs created. Economic Development began to track the downtown district's sales tax in 2015; in the past year, sales tax has increased almost five percent to $1.03 million.
The direct impact of downtown revitalization on the health of local economies is well documented. Investment in revitalization creates jobs, increases property values, generates sales tax revenue, and attracts tourists — all of which are economic benefits to the communities making those investments.
Here's a local example of the outcomes of downtown revitalization: GSATi, a Denton technology company with a staff of 25 moved into a rehabilitated building downtown five years ago. GSATi decided to put pencil to paper to determine its economic impact to the downtown area, and here's what they found: GSATi corporate and its employees spent about half a million dollars downtown in the first year being located there. Five years later, they estimate that number has risen to $1.5 million.
To learn more about Main Street America, visit http://www.mainstreet.org/. For information on the Texas Main Street Program, go to http://www.thc.texas.gov/preserve/projects-and-programs/texas-main-street.
FEATURED IMAGE: CEO and founder of GSATi, Cindy Tysinger, poses March 9 for a portrait with her company's core values at the GSATi office in downtown Denton. GSATi corporate and its employees spent about half a million dollars downtown in the first year being located there.