Tennessee Downtowns


Tennessee Downtowns is an affiliated program of Tennessee Main Street designed to help communities embark on a comprehensive revitalization effort for their downtown.  Using the proven National Main Street Center’s Four-Point Approach® to downtown revitalization, this 24-month program coaches selected downtowns and their steering committees through the steps of launching an effective revitalization effort.  Space in this program is limited and highly competitive. Program activities include training, site visits, regional workshops, webinars, technical assistance and an innovation project grant.

To participate in Tennessee Downtowns, communities must:

  • Define a project area concentrating efforts on a traditional commercial district that is typically at least 50 years old.
  • Have a designated five-member volunteer steering committee dedicated to going through the training and program process.
  • Have a designated non-profit 501(c)(3) organization or city municipality that will host the steering committee for the program and associated grant project.
  • Illustrate interest on the behalf of the citizens for the revitalization of downtown.
  • Illustrate how the city and county government recognizes the importance of downtown as an asset to the community.
  • Adopt a resolution by the city government to participate in the program.
  • Clearly demonstrate economic need for a downtown revitalization effort through economic factors such as high vacancy rates in downtown, lack of businesses downtown, disinvestment in the area (either public or private), dilapidated buildings or aging infrastructure.
  • Submit a complete application to participate in an upcoming “round” (please contact us for the timeline).
  • Join the National Main Street Center as a “Standard member”.

Seventy-eight communities have participated in the Tennessee Downtowns program, which makes them eligible for ECD’s Façade Improvement Grant program. 

Applications for Tennessee Downtowns are accepted every two years. Deadline to apply for the next round is February 29, 2024.

The TNDT Grant Admin Webinar recording can be found here. This recording provides an overview for managing your grant contracts from start to finish.


Downtown Communities

Alamo Dresden Livingston Rossville
Alexandria Ducktown Loretto Selmer
Arlington Dunlap Lynchburg Shelbyville
Ashland City Erwin Lynnville Smithville
Athens Etowah Madisonville South Pittsburg
Bell Buckle Gainesboro Manchester Somerville
Brownsville Greenfield Martin Sweetwater
Carthage Halls McKenzie Tellico Plains
Celina Hartsville Milan Tracy City
Centerville Henderson Monterey Trenton
Clifton Hohenwald Mount Pleasant Tullahoma
Clinton Humboldt Mountain City Wartburg
Collinwood Huntingdon Newbern Watertown
Copperhill Jamestown Newport Waverly
Covington Jasper Oneida Waynesboro
Crossville Jefferson City Paris White Bluff
Cumberland Gap Lenoir City Pikeville Whiteville
Decaturville Lewisburg Portland Woodbury
Decherd Lexington Red Boiling Springs  
Dickson Linden Rockwood  


Space in the Tennessee Downtowns program is limited and highly competitive. To participate in Tennessee Downtowns, communities must have not previously participated in the program and:

  • Be a city located in a county that is an active participant in the ThreeStar program.
  • Designate a program area (revitalization district) focused on a traditional commercial district. The district should feature a pedestrian scale and orientation that is compact in size and has a regular pattern of sidewalks that can be comfortably walked. It should also have a critical mass of buildings, at least 2/3 of which are commercial in nature, and businesses which form the foundation for revitalization efforts.
  • Establish a dedicated five member volunteer “Downtown Revitalization Steering Committee” of community leaders who will participate for the length of the program. This will involve allocating time for on-site meetings and training sessions.
  • Have a designated non-profit or local government organization that will house the steering committee and serve as a conduit for the associated grant. This organization must have the financial resources to spend $15,000 on a project which will be reimbursed through the Tennessee Downtowns program upon completion. It must also become a member of the National Main Street Center ($375 annually). www.mainstreet.org
  • Illustrate interest and support from local government, chambers of commerce, merchant organizations, business and property owner’s within the district, and others who recognize the importance of downtown to their community and are willing to learn along with the steering committee and be involved where needed.
  • Adopt a resolution by the city government to participate in the program.
  • Clearly demonstrate community need for downtown revitalization assistance.

Application Process

At least ten communities will be selected in 2024 to participate in the 24 month Tennessee Downtowns program. The selection of communities will take place through a competitive application process. To apply, please follow these steps:

Step 1: Review the eligibility requirements and be prepared to demonstrate those in the application.

Step 2: Assemble your steering committee, the group responsible for preparing the application. Ask if there are any questions regarding the program and application process before beginning.

Step 3: Email a Letter of Intent to Apply (sample included in the application handbook) to Nancy.Williams@tn.gov prior to January 31, 2024. Sending the Letter of Intent early on will help us know about your plan to submit an application.

Step 4: Complete the application below. Answer all questions and include all requested attachments. Tell your story well! We want to learn about your community and desires for improvement. The Tennessee Downtowns application is extensive, but the time involved in completing it will be well spent. Regardless of whether you are selected to participate in the program at this time, you will have assembled valuable reference materials for your community that can be used to further your goals.

Step 5: Email a complete PDF file of your final application to Nancy.Williams@tn.gov by February 29, 2024 and make sure You have received verification that your application was received.

Step 6: Selected communities will be announced in April 2024.