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Places Blog 2017-12-20T03:38:01+00:00

The Main Street America updates resources

With new direction, the National Main Street Center has been diligently working to supply new or updated support materials for designated Main Street America™ programs. They have also focused on developing a user-friendly web experience, and the fruits of this labor were revealed in the summer of 2017 when the new mainstreet.org was launched. The new site’s goal was to bring the resources of a national network into an easy-to-navigate portal. When you visit for the first time you’ll notice the professional photos that capture Main Street America™ programs at their best. Read More

November 29th, 2017|Marketing & Promotion, Places|0 Comments

The Main Street America network in WI and beyond

We spend a lot of time focusing on the work of our local programs and occasionally reflect upon what is happening at the state level, but are you aware of recent changes at the national level, and in particular with the National Main Street Center? I recently had a chance to spend some time with colleagues from around the country for our Fall Coordinators Meeting in Chicago. We gather twice a year in the spring and fall, to receive updates from Patrice Frey, president and CEO of National Main Street Center (NMSC); receive professional development training; and learn from each other. I thought I’d take some time to share a little of what I learned. Read More

November 29th, 2017|Marketing & Promotion, Places|0 Comments

Downtown as a neighborhood

The economic advantages to downtown from additional residential development are obvious for both landlords and businesses, but the social benefits are equally relevant. When people call downtown home, they are more likely to take an interest in downtown planning and to advocate for public-sector policies and investment. After all, these individuals represent a pool of voting constituents with a vested interest in their downtown neighborhood. Residents who live within walking distance increase the chance of spontaneous activities—such as music performances or athletic get-togethers—taking place in downtown. They also provide a reliable audience for casual events Read More

October 16th, 2017|Community Engagement, Marketing & Promotion, Places|0 Comments

Downtown residents as consumers

The addition of new residents into downtown is a boon to both landlords and commercial tenants, creating a new (or enhanced) source of revenue for landlords with vacant upper floors or dated apartments, and a reliable stream of accessible customers for retailers and restaurants. Since residents within walking distance of a business have been found to frequent local shops twice as often as driving-distance customers, and with the average downtown household in Wisconsin making $9,000 worth of discretionary purchases within the state, the addition of only a few units can result in a dramatic increase in local spending. Read More

October 9th, 2017|Places, Preservation, Small Business|0 Comments

The case for residential development downtown

Downtowns are the original live/work neighborhood. Traditionally, small business owners lived above their shop, which was a convenient and cost-effective way to sustain a household. Especially profitable business owners might live elsewhere, instead allowing employees to live above the business, which was both a good business practice (increasing employee availability) and an employee perk. Over time, social norms, development patterns and zoning standards in all but the largest cities made it less common, resulting in many upper floors being relegated to storage uses. The combination of shifting demographics, increasing demand for low-maintenance residential options within walking distance of amenities, and preference for unique architecture and authentic experiences has led to a resurgence in demand for downtown living space Read More

October 2nd, 2017|Local Ordinances, Places, Preservation, Small Business|0 Comments

Activating alleys and service areas on Main Street

Not all alley renovations involve costly makeovers. There are many examples where the programming of the spaces made them destinations, rather than physical improvements. For instance, Buckham Alley in Flint, Michigan. Back in 2011, in an effort to attract pedestrian traffic to the businesses located alongside this downtown alley, local residents organized a one-day music festival called the Buckham Alley Fest. In that first year, they had nine bands, fifty vendors, and nearly 1,500 attendees. Read More

September 18th, 2017|Marketing & Promotion, Places, Public Spaces|0 Comments

Transforming alleys and service areas on Main Street

In nearly every historic commercial district, there are two sides: the “public face”, which includes the storefront, the streetscape, and most of the activity; and the “behind-the-scenes area”, which includes the back alleys, utilities, and delivery zones. But more and more, these behind the-scenes spaces are being transformed into vibrant, active, public spaces, often for very little cost. And the great thing is, the “unfinished” or “gritty” appearance of these areas actually creates a perfect backdrop for the types of activities often held within them. Read More

September 12th, 2017|Places, Public Spaces|0 Comments

Wisconsin welcomes new Main Street program, celebrates downtowns

By proclamation, Governor Scott Walker declared August 22, 2017 Wisconsin Main Street Day. The day included the announcement of the newest Wisconsin Main Street Program participant, Milwaukee’s Historic King Drive, as well as celebrations and ribbon-cuttings in 11 other communities: Ashland, De Pere, Fond du Lac, La Crosse, Port Washington, Princeton, Ripon, Shullsburg, Tomah, Viroqua and Wausau. Read More

September 5th, 2017|Community Engagement, Marketing & Promotion, Places|0 Comments

Promotion: district brand

Promotion positions the downtown or commercial district as the center of the community and hub of economic activity, while creating a positive image that showcases a community’s unique characteristics.  -Main Street America™ During New Director Training, I spend a considerable amount of time helping new directors consider their district brand. In this article, I’ll walk you through some of the considerations we go over during the training, to serve as a refresher (or for those who may have gone through this training some time ago). Read More

August 16th, 2017|Marketing & Promotion, Places|0 Comments

Downtown development practitioners learn the Main Street America approach

Wisconsin Main Street directors and volunteers, as well as Connect Communities representatives and even a few Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) regional economic development directors, gathered in Madison on July 31 and Aug. 1 for a training for new Wisconsin Main Street directors. While this day-and-a-half-long training is required for any new directors of designated Wisconsin Main Street programs, it is also open (on an optional basis) to volunteers and local Connect Communities participants. The first day is filled with an in-depth exploration of the Main Street Approach, sharing the history and breaking the Four Points™ (design, economic vitality, organization and promotion) into easy to understand concepts peppered with examples from the downtown development team’s years of experience. Read More

August 7th, 2017|Community Engagement, Places|0 Comments
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