The City of Camden Main Street program has been selected to participate in a new small business resiliency audit and resources pilot program. In partnership with Main Street America and Main Street South Carolina, Downtown Camden will serve an important role in creating new tools to assist rural small business owners in identifying and responding to challenges. Financial support for this project comes from USDA’s Rural Business Development Grants program.

The global pandemic has had a devastating impact in rural communities throughout South Carolina, exasperating the unemployment rate and requiring small business owners to continually adapt to new economic realities. Additionally, there are extensive challenges and geographic constraints to delivering technical assistance to the over 30 million small businesses in the U.S., with those located in rural areas being disproportionately impacted.

Rural small businesses’ ability to navigate and respond to a number of emerging issues such as workforce and supply chain constraints, as well as how to leverage new opportunities presented through social media and e-commerce, is crucial to preserving existing businesses and nurturing entrepreneurship. Some recent data demonstrate these needs:
•    53% of small businesses did not have a digital commerce component to their business. And of those that did, it represented less than 10%; (MSA Study 2021) 
•    New business formation grew 48% from January 2020 to December 2021; (U.S. Census) 
•    73% of small business owners expected to pivot their business model again in 2022; (American Express) 

In response, Main Street America—a national nonprofit commitment to preservation-based economic development and community revitalization in historic downtowns and neighborhood commercial corridors—is piloting the development of a model that creates more efficiencies in assessing and meeting the needs of rural small business at scale, in three existing rural Main Street communities in South Carolina. These communities include Camden, Laurens, and Walhalla. 

“The invitation to pilot small business research with Main Street America reinforces the Main Street network’s collaborative process and impact,” said Jenny Boulware, State Coordinator at Main Street South Carolina. “South Carolina’s local Main Street programs will be providing direct connections with our state’s small businesses–exploring the challenges they face and identifying practical solutions. This work strengthens existing efforts to enhance boots on the ground small business support.”

Over the next four to six months, the Downtown Camden program will engage five small business owners and entrepreneurs through assessments, on-site focus groups, and interviews exploring challenges and areas of opportunities. Main Street America will research potential solutions and develop technical assistance materials, resources, and tools tailored to meet the needs of the participants.

“I am excited that Camden was one of the communities chosen to participate in this pilot program,” said Main Street Manager Kat Spadacenta. “While the Downtown Camden program has been offering workshops, one-on-one business support and other technical assistance for several years, the pandemic has changed the landscape, and it’s crucial to have small business owner input when identifying what the most valuable resources are and in what ways they can be utilized for maximum benefit.”

Main Street communities in Pennsylvania and New Mexico have also been selected to participate in this pilot program. 

The Downtown Camden program operates within the City of Camden administration. Committed to strengthening the positive image of this central "heart" of our community and preserving its heritage, the program also provides support and technical assistance to small business owners throughout the City of Camden. Learn more at 
Since 1983, Main Street South Carolina has brought economic strength to South Carolina’s downtown commercial districts, securing over $609 million in new investment, creating more than 5,363 new jobs, and rehabilitating over 1,400 historic buildings. Housed in the Municipal Association of SC, Main Street SC is the state’s comprehensive revitalization program that promotes the historic and economic revitalization of traditional business districts across the state. Learn more here: 

Main Street America leads a movement committed to strengthening communities through preservation-based economic development in older and historic downtowns and neighborhood commercial districts. For more than 40 years, Main Street America has provided a practical, adaptable, and impactful framework for community-driven, comprehensive revitalization through the Main Street Approach™. Our network of more than 1,200 neighborhoods and communities, rural and urban, who share both a commitment to place and to building stronger communities through preservation-based economic development. Since 1980, communities participating in the program have leveraged more than $95.33 billion in new public and private investment, generated 161,036 net new businesses and 717,723 net new jobs, and rehabilitated more than 314,431 buildings. Main Street America is a nonprofit subsidiary of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. For more information, visit