Our mission is to stimulate the physical, economic and cultural vitality of downtown Waukegan and our lakefront through community and business partnerships.

What is “Main Street?”

For over 30 years, the Main Street movement, sponsored by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, has helped cities and towns all over the country to focus on the revitalization of their downtown neighborhoods. The National Trust Main Street Center is the driving force behind the more than 2,000 programs that use the proven Main Street Approach® to rebuild and reinvent the heart of their communities.

Waukegan was designated an Illinois Main Street Community in March, 2002, after meeting a rigorous set of guidelines. Waukegan Main Street (WMS) employs a full-time, professional executive director, who works with the Board of Directors and many other committed individuals, all volunteers, to implement the Main Street Approach. As a not-for-profit 501 (c) (3) organization, WMS receives support from all sectors of the community: residents, small business owners, property owners, developers, the City of Waukegan, and other entities (such as the Park District, Port District, Public Library, etc.). These partnerships have helped WMS to lead the way toward a more vibrant downtown that is drawing people and activities back to its core.

The Main Street Four-Point Approach ®

All Main Street programs operate under this unique preservation-based economic development tool, an approach to revitalization which leverages local assets to revitalize older, struggling downtowns. The four points of the Main Street Approach® are the basis for the four standing committees which, coordinated by the executive director, accomplish the work of the organization.


Organization Committee

Volunteers work with the executive director to recruit, train, and motivate volunteers as well as assist the Board with fundraising efforts.

Promotions Committee
Volunteers focus on “selling” the downtown by creating special events, marketing campaigns, and retail promotions to communicate its uniqueness to visitors and potential investors.

Design Committee
Volunteers help to create an inviting downtown environment by paying attention to the “look” of its buildings, storefronts, signs, public spaces, street furniture, landscaping, etc.

Economic Development Committee
Volunteers seek to strengthen existing businesses while attracting new businesses that fit the downtown’s unique market niche.