First & Main

A Blueprint for Prosperity in America's Small and Midsized Communities

Elected officials:

Sign up and signal your support today

The First & Main Blueprint

Civic and elected leaders in these places see deep inequities in the health, transportation, and economic development outcomes that result from federal investments. Many smaller or midsized communities are too often left out, but even when investments do reach them, the benefits often fail to extend to everyone within their community.

To correct these disparities, local elected leaders from small and midsized American towns and cities have developed this new Blueprint to cross party lines and extend prosperity to their hometowns—and the people within them—that have been missing out or left behind.

Read the full blueprint (pdf)

The First & Main Coalition

Mayors, city councilors, town leaders, county executives and commissioners, tribal leaders, and other local elected officials from across America are calling on the federal government to support and partner with their local communities by enacting this Blueprint. They urge a focus on proven solutions that will stimulate the kind of economic growth that will create vibrant, healthy communities; bring prosperity to all of their residents, families, and workers; and produce the rising tide that lifts all boats in their communities.

In April 2018, dozens of these local officials convened in Washington, DC and delivered this Blueprint to Congress and the Trump administration, shared ideas and strategies about how national policies and investments could support community revitalization and economic growth, and committed publicly to working hand-in-hand with national leaders to put these proven, practical ideas into action. Read more about that April gathering.

Who has joined?
  • 1) Support locally-driven community revitalization

    Support locally-driven community revitalization

    Supporting and assisting locally-driven economic development and revitalization is essential to the vitality of these communities. Federal programs can help small communities do everything from educating and training their workforce to revitalizing manufacturing, redeveloping brownfields, and spurring rural development.

    These investments drive American economic growth, providing steady jobs and quality products that not only support existing families, but also retain and grow communities by attracting additional investment in the region.

  • 2) Build vibrant, healthy, walkable towns and cities

    Build vibrant, healthy, walkable towns and cities

    People of all backgrounds in every community want to live in attractive, healthy, walkable communities. Making investments to promote this type of development helps address health disparities and connects everyone in the community to greater opportunities.

    Creating vibrant neighborhoods ripe with jobs, housing, arts, culture, and recreation requires civic leaders, government officials, residents, and businesses to work together in partnership. This strengthens entire regions, enhances quality of life, and attracts additional and sustained economic investment.

  • 3) Create opportunities for everyone in America’s small and midsized communities

    Create opportunities for everyone in America’s small and midsized communities

    Less than 22 percent of Americans live in large communities. The bulk of the population call small towns and midsize communities home. A $200,000 federal grant won’t make much impact in a large metropolis, but can be transformative in a rural area or small town.

    These places, and the people who live there, deserve every opportunity to access programs that can improve their communities. Federal funding programs should provide equal access and distribution to small and midsize communities.

  • 4) Invest in infrastructure that creates lasting value

    Invest in infrastructure that creates lasting value

    Investing in stable, long-lasting infrastructure is critical for communities of all shapes and sizes to remain regionally and globally competitive, attract talent, create jobs and preserve their quality of life. But small and medium-sized towns and cities also need infrastructure investments that will create long-term assets, not expensive liabilities for which they lack the money to maintain. They need investments in transportation that meet everyone’s needs to access essential services.

    Along with investments in broadband internet access, clean air and water, and reliable electricity, smart infrastructure investments produce a resilient framework for creating long-lasting value. Connecting more places and people is critical for success, and rebuilding and fixing existing infrastructure upon which we have relied for decades should be our first priority.

Summary Of Key First & Main Strategies

More details on each specific strategy in this table can be found in the appendix tabs below this table.

Topic area Strategies (with recommended funding levels on annual basis)

Redevelopment & Revitalization

  1. Preserve Tax-Exempt Municipal Bonds
  2. Preserve New Market Tax Credits
  3. Preserve Historic Preservation Tax Credits
  4. Create Neighborhood Rehabilitation and Investment Tax Credits
  5. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Brownfields grants - $250 million
  6. Implement Opportunity Zones that work for all communities

Local Economic Development

  1. Economic Development Administration (EDA) Public Works, Economic Adjustment, and other grants - $275 million
  2. U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development funding - $2.33 billion
  3. Expand Appalachian Community Renewal - $1 billion
  4. Manufacturing Extension Partnership - $150 million
  5. Department of Labor (DOL) Apprentice Grants and Promise Grants -$200 million

Rebuilding Downtown & Core Areas

  1. Create a new National Park Service (NPS) “Public Square” grant program - $100 million
  2. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) neighborhood renewal grants - $1 billion
  3. Create new Housing and Urban Development (HUD) “Anchor Institutions Initiative” - $25 million
  4. National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) grants - $150 million
  5. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Office of Sustainable Communities - $11.1 million

Housing & Neighborhoods

  1. Affordable Housing Tax Credits backed by Private Activity Bond incentives
  2. Preserve National Housing Trust Fund, funded from government-sponsored-enterprises
  3. National Park Service (NPS) Land & Water Conservation Fund grants - $900 million
  4. Preserve Transit Oriented Development and Local Project Eligibility in the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) program and the Railroad Rehabilitation & Improvement Financing (RRIF) program
  5. Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) - $3 billion
  6. HOME Investment Partnership program grants - $1.6 billion
  7. Rural Housing Assistance
  8. Housing Preservation Grants - $5 million
  9. Rural Housing Grants - $28.7 million
  10. Housing Trust Fund (HTF) - $3.5 billion
  11. Supportive Housing for the Elderly - $533 million
  12. Indian Community Development Block Grant program - $56 million

Infrastructure Investment

Community-scale and priority transportation projects

  1. Department of Transportation (DOT) Transportation Alternatives Program - $900 million
  2. Department of Transportation (DOT) The Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grants - $2.5 billion
  3. Passenger Rail: Sustain the Amtrak Passenger Rail system, including the national network, state-supported routes, and the northeast corridor - $1.5 billion or greater and fund Consolidated Rail Infrastructure Safety Improvements (CRISI) and Restoration and Enhancement Grant (REG) programs at authorized levels
  4. Federal Transit Administration (FTA) transit levels - $2.45 billion annually between FY19-FY20
  5. Reauthorize transportation programs to repair our infrastructure and build smart new projects
  6. Create Regional Infrastructure/Financing Banks (via TIFIA)

Broadband Internet Access

  1. Gigabit Zone broadband deployments by USDA/EDA - $2.5 billion

Water Infrastructure

  1. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Clean Water Fund grants - $9 billion
  2. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Drinking Water Fund grants - $5 billion
  3. Create Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Integrated Water Infrastructure grants - $25 million
  4. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act $35-50 million for FY18-19
DOWNLOAD This full Blueprint is also available as a PDF which you can download here (pdf)

Appendix: Detailed strategies of First & Main

The First & Main coalition proposes 30-plus specific federal strategies that would make a major difference in America’s small, midsized, and tribal communities, grouped into five key areas below.

(Click tabs to expand & view each area.)