Click on each day below and use your browser's print function to print a detailed schedule for each day of the conference. Filter by session type if you'd like to only see education session, plenaries, etc. Tip: we recommend selecting portrait orientation and default margins for best results!

Name Time Description Speakers Location Name Session Type
Registration & Check-in7:15 AM - 6:00 PM

Stop by the Registration desk is open to check in, modify your registration, or ask questions.

 BJCC East - First FloorInformation
A New Day in Montgomery 8:00 AM - 4:00 PM

Discover the heart of Montgomery—Alabama's Capital City and the site for some of the most influential moments and events in our country's struggle for civil rights. Immerse yourself in the city's rich history through the exploration of historic landmarks and beautiful architecture. Visit some of Montgomery's most iconic landmarks, including the Alabama State Capitol, Dexter Park, and the Rosa Parks Library and Museum. Learn about public art and adaptive reuse projects that have created a district of progress while showcasing the cultural enhancements from the past six decades. Our knowledgeable guide will provide insights into the significance of each site and its role in shaping Montgomery's identity.

  Mobile Workshop
The Power of Collaboration in East Alabama 8:00 AM - 5:15 PM

Anniston, Heflin, and Oxford are three Main Street communities located within 20 minutes of each other. Each historic district is physically, financially, and culturally distinct, with one powerful common feature: their commitment to work together as a region to attract visitors to East Alabama. On this tour, learn how each city has invested in unique civic infrastructure projects that have increased foot traffic and spurred significant private investment, as well as civic pride. In Heflin, discover how a rural city has become known internationally by hikers and is home to a nationally known adaptive reuse project; experience a community that has created a unique retail and entertainment oasis in a sea of big box chains in Oxford; and in Anniston, visit a district that has embraced its place in history and began to rebuild itself as the region’s most diverse and inclusive Main Street.

  Mobile Workshop
Arts, Alleys, and Ales8:00 AM - 5:30 PM

Immerse yourself in Athens and Decatur, two of North Alabama's most historic and lively downtowns on this art-centric and history-filled mobile workshop. Visit the Cook Museum of Natural Science, voted #1 New Museum by USA TODAY. Tour the Alabama Center for the Arts, a partnership between the colleges located in Athens and Decatur and High Cotton Arts, and art incubator that Athens Main Street opened in 2015. Learn how each downtown champions public art throughout their districts while maintaining their historic charm and character. Experience these efforts up close by visiting newly created public gathering spaces in abandoned alleyways that now boast vibrant art and events. And hear about how their spooky and interesting pasts connect with the present-day locations of these great public art projects, while also sampling local cuisine and ales from local purveyors!

  Mobile Workshop
Downtown Wetumpka: Natural Beauty, Resilient Spirit, and the Takeover 8:30 AM - 4:00 PM

In the heart of Alabama's River Region lies a quaint, small town with a big history: Wetumpka, the “City of Natural Beauty.” Since being featured on HGTV's Home Town Takeover in 2021, as well as serving as the backdrop for several Hollywood films over the years, interest in Wetumpka has skyrocketed. As the county seat of Elmore County, this fast-growing city in the foothills of Appalachia is also recognized for its historic downtown, art galleries, natural beauty, outdoor recreation, and—most of all—its spirit. You are invited to visit Wetumpka to experience this spirit for yourself and to learn about how city officials and a team of visionaries restored their business district from dull and desolate into the vibrant heart of the community that residents, visitors, and film crews love.

  Mobile Workshop
Two Blue Collar Towns and Their Revival Story8:30 AM - 4:00 PM

Start with a visit to Gadsden, whose historic downtown sits along the Coosa River. Learn how this town leaned into the concept of adaptive reuse and went from being named one of the worst places to live in America to a thriving Main Street community that has more than two dozen retail establishments and an equal number of restaurants and bars. Then, journey to the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains to Fort Payne, a town rich in natural wonders, trails, and historic buildings, and a community built upon a history of talented people like Sequoyah, the inventor of the Cherokee Syllabary; internationally acclaimed and Country Music Hall of Fame band, ALABAMA; and James Dean, the creator/illustrator of Pete the Cat. Learn how the Main Street district embraces its natural surroundings, cultural heritage, and rebounding textile industry for future success.

  Mobile Workshop
Main Streets in Shelby County9:00 AM - 4:00 PM

Columbiana, Montevallo, and Calera are back-to-back Central Alabama Main Street communities capitalizing on their access to I-65 to attract year-round visitors and tourists. From an unexpected journey into our country's past via American Village or the Karl C. Harrison Museum of George Washington to a train ride at a Southern winery and whimsical creatures carved into the trees of a community a park, learn how these cities have leveraged resources, fostered partnerships, and successfully implemented adaptive reuse projects to expand and promote public art, develop entertainment districts, create festivals, and successfully blend collegiate and quant identities to build vibrant business districts offering something for everyone. (Note: This workshop does not include a trip to winery.)

  Mobile Workshop
Main Street Preservation Short Course9:00 AM - 4:00 PM

Main Street Preservation Short Course, presented by the National Alliance of Preservation Commissions

Join the National Alliance of Preservation Commissions in this one-day program on how Main Streets can take advantage of their historic assets to drive community development. The Main Street Preservation Short Course is designed to educate Main Street professionals and volunteers on how to incorporate the work of preservation commissions and Certified Local Governments (CLGs) in their planning, programming, and day to day operations. This course will also address elements of resilience and disaster planning for your Main Street.

This session offers AIA and AICP CE credits. 

For more information contact the National Alliance of Preservation Commissions at 757-802-4141 or  

 Forum ESpecial Training
Main Street 101s12:00 PM - 4:00 PM

Training is essential to your success as a Main Street manager. Members of the Main Street America Program Services team will provide an overview of the Main Street Approach, highlighting the importance of engaging the community in revitalization planning, developing a set of district-specific strategies, implemented through work across the Four Points, and tracking and communicating meaningful impact measures.


  • 12:00 – 12:20pm          Welcome and General Introduction to Main Street By: Norma Ramírez de Miess, VP Field Services – Downtowns.
  • 12:20 – 1:10pm             Organization 101 By: Jackie Swihart, Program Officer and Marcela Uribe, Program Officer
  • 1:10 – 2:00pm               Economic Vitality 101 By: Joi Cuartero Austin, Senior Program Officer.                                    
  • 2:00 – 2:10pm               Break
  • 2:10 – 3:00pm               Promotion 101 By: Kathy LaPlante, Sr. Director of Coordinating Programs and Jonathan Stone, Program Officer.
  • 3:00 – 3:50pm               Design 101 By: Lisa Mullings Thompson, Senior Program Officer.
  • 3:50 – 4:00pm               Q&As & Thanks By: Field Services Team
Joi Austin, Main Street America
Norma Miess, Main Street America
Lisa Thompson, Main Street America
Marcela Uribe, Main Street America
Jonathan Stone, Main Street America
Jackie Swihart, MSA
Kathy La Plante, Main Street America
East NSpecial Training
Entrepreneurial Ecosystems Meet-Up (by invite only)3:00 PM - 5:00 PM

Join us to connect with MSA’s Program Services team, fellow Main Street managers and other economic and community development practitioners nationwide. Discuss building supportive networks for our small businesses over light refreshments with communities participating in our Breaking Barriers to Business (B3) and Equitable Entrepreneurial Ecosystems in Rural Communities (E3) initiatives. Don't miss this opportunity to network and collaborate!


Sponsored by PNC Bank.


This event is invite only and attendance is limited. See your confirmation email from the event organizer for location details.

  Special Event
Welcome Reception5:30 PM - 7:30 PM

Join us for a party at City Walk BHAM! Meet up with old friends and make new ones while enjoying refreshing libations and delicious bites from local food trucks serving up BBQ, kettle corn, tacos, sweet treats, and more. Plus, live entertainment: arrive early to experience a spectacular performance by the Miles College Drum Line and hang around for the sounds of Alabama by the Boys in the Band.


Whether you are a first-time conference guest or frequent attendee, the Welcome Reception is a great way to kick-off your Main Street Now 2024 experience. Come to mix, mingle, and get energized for a fun night out experiencing Birmingham’s dynamic dining scene with colleagues.


Included with registration. All are welcome!

City Walk BHAM: Amphitheater area at 9th Avenue N & 21st Street N (just outside BJCC)

 City Walk BHAMSpecial Event
Name Time Description Speakers Location Name Session Type
Registration & Check-in7:30 AM - 5:00 PMThe Registration desk is open to check in, modify your regitration, and ask question. BJCC East - First FloorInformation
First Time Attendee Meet & Greet8:30 AM - 9:30 AM

First time at Main Street Now? Welcome! We invite you to join us for coffee and light refreshments as we kick off Main Street Now 2024. Mingle with other new attendees and meet some of your hosts. Take this opportunity to ask questions, make new connections, learn more about our host city, and make the most out of your conference experience.

 East MSpecial Event
Opening Plenary10:30 AM - 12:00 PM

Meet up at the historic Alabama Theatre for the official start of the 2024 Main Street Now Conference! Hear inspiring welcome remarks from the City of Birmingham’s Mayor Randall Woodfin and state leaders, Main Street Alabama representatives, Birmingham’s Poet Laureate Salaam Green, and Erin Barnes, Main Street America’s new President & CEO, that will energize you for three action-packed days of education session, mobile workshops, and special events. Plus, celebrate the 2024 Great American Main Street Award winners.


Make sure to arrive a few minutes early to locate and secure a seat with peers from your state, region, or coordinating program delegation, and experience a spectacular musical performance on Big Bertha, the Mighty Wurlitzer Theatre Organ! View the seating chart here >


Opening Plenary is sponsored by Regions Bank.

2024 Great American Main Street Award is sponsored by The Hartford Insurance Group.


Getting there: The Alabama Theatre is located 6 blocks (approximately 1 mile) from the Birmingham Jefferson Convention Complex. Transportation will not be provided; volunteers will be available to guide attendees who opt to walk.

 Alabama TheatrePlenary
Shuttlesworth Documentary Screening and Q&A with Producers1:00 PM - 2:45 PM

Join us for a special lunchtime screening and Q&A with the producers of the critically acclaimed documentary, Shuttlesworth. To celebrate the 100th anniversary of his birth, Alabama Public Television presents an original documentary about Birmingham civil rights leader and icon, Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth. Featuring exclusive interviews with Rev. Shuttlesworth, family members, and colleagues, the film examines Shuttlesworth’s crucial contributions to the Civil Rights Movement, which, in turn, helped define the national consciousness during the mid to late 20th century and first quarter of the 21st and amplify the integral role that Birmingham played as the catalyst in propelling the movement onto the national stage. 


Beginning with his segregated childhood in the Oxmoor Valley, Shuttlesworth follows the reverend’s life through Bethel Baptist Church, the Birmingham Campaign, and the reactionary violence unleashed by the white power structure of the city. Through this lens, Shuttlesworth examines the City of Birmingham, its unique history and culture, and how the city became the symbol for social justice and the American Civil Rights Movement. 


After the screening, we will be joined for a discussion and Q&A with producers, T. Marie King and J. Winston, facilitated by Elijah Davis, Research Officer with the Nowak Metro Finance Lab.


Lunch will be included with the ticket cost.  Pre-Registration is required.

T. Marie King, Shuttlesworth Documentary
J. Winston, Shuttlesworth Documentary
East MSpecial Event
Touring with Tallulah in Jasper1:30 PM - 5:30 PM

Hop on Jasper’s Downtown Trolley to visit some of the town’s historic homes and churches, reimagined businesses, and newly developed parks. Learn how the community is utilizing existing assets by converting a Jewish Temple into an office and a turn-of-the-century church into condos for Downtown living. Visit the Bankhead House & Heritage Center, Jasper First Methodist Church, and the newly renovated WPA-era Sherer Auditorium/City Hall. Then, take a leisurely walking tour to learn about Jasper’s history as a home to civic leaders and actors—like Tallulah Bankhead—while experiencing downtown Jasper’s murals and the 50-Mule Team, the largest collection of specialty shops and restaurants in the region, and a business incubator pod, and learning how land banking has secured many vacant buildings in the Main Street district. Enjoy free time to explore on your own: stop into shops, grab some coffee, and savor a meal from one of the many restaurants.

  Mobile Workshop
Pepper Place Bham 1:30 PM - 5:00 PM

Learn about and explore the Pepper Place Market District, a thriving historic neighborhood with award-winning restaurants, design shops, food and fashion retail, office space, and a weekly farmers market—all easily accessible by multiple modes of transportation and adjacent to downtown Birmingham. The tour will begin with a brief history of the area, followed by strolls along the pedestrian alleyway and newly restored streetscape, and conversations with the district’s long-time chefs, interior designers, and business owners. Visit the photo exhibit featuring portraits of the farmers who have contributed to the success of the Farmers Market at Pepper Place. Pop into locally-owned shops specializing in unique items from designer clothing and gourmet food items to home decor and books.

  Mobile Workshop
Hope Inspires Action: Building Civic Infrastructure2:00 PM - 2:45 PM

Providing 'hope' is perhaps the greatest contribution Main Street officials can provide to their community and downtown. This presentation unpacks the notion of 'hope' to create a community-wide vision for positive change. The presentation includes moving stories from other leaders that have created hope by matching their citizen's dreams with an inspiring community/downtown vision and can-do attitude. This fast-paced, interactive session provides actionable strategies to build civic infrastructure, enhance vitality, and strengthen quality of place.

David Ivan, MI State University ExtensionEast O45-Minute Crash Course
RFQ/RFP Success: Scope, Perfect & Attract the Best!2:00 PM - 2:45 PM

In today's dynamic configuration of funding and strategy for projects, Main Street managers play a crucial role in initiating and managing projects that enhance their communities. Many communities have lost funding from state and federal agencies because their Request for Qualifications (RFQ) or Request for Proposals (RFP) selection processes were not transparent, equitable, or garnered public critique. Given by a State Main Street Manager, Planner, and Engineer/Grants Specialist, this session is tailored to empower Main Street staff with the essential knowledge and skills required to proficiently create RFQs or RFPs that optimize procurement strategies and drive successful project outcomes within their communities.

Christina Hiegel, Ayres Associates, Inc
Gayle Langley, Colorado Department of Labor Affairs
Josh Olhava, Ayres Associates, Inc.
East K&L45-Minute Crash Course
Micro-Economic Development: The Intersection of People and Place2:00 PM - 2:45 PM

Vibrant Main Streets can take time and patience–to create a shared vision, to overcome infrastructure hurdles, and to curate a pipeline of businesses interested in filing those storefronts. Emerging research shows that the appetite for business ownership is strong in rural communities, but they are falling through the cracks of traditional economic development strategies. Join us to learn what these aspiring business owners want and how to implement micro-economic development strategies that engage and support them at the earliest stages, thereby creating a pipeline of viable businesses to grow into your Main Street and beyond.

Marci Goodwin, SmartStart Business Development
Erik Reader, Main Street America
East N45-Minute Crash Course
Supporting & Investing in Black and Brown Entrepreneurs2:00 PM - 2:45 PM

In this session, attendees will learn how two organizations (Thread Capital & The North Carolina Rural Center) have partnered to create a small business ecosystem across the state of North Carolina that partners with and convenes local, state, and non-profit resources to address and eliminate barriers for small business entrepreneurs. Attendees will also learn why having a relationship with your local Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) can help bolster and support the BIPOC entrepreneurs in your community.

Tosh Comer, Thread Capital
Jasper Jones, NC Rural Center
East B45-Minute Crash Course
Thriving Farmers Markets: From Start-Up to Stardom2:00 PM - 2:45 PM

Delve into the art of establishing and elevating farmers markets in bustling downtown settings. Whether you're starting from scratch or looking to improve an existing market, this session offers valuable insights. Discover the crucial first steps to launch a successful market and learn proven strategies for attracting a loyal customer base and fostering vendor growth. These innovative marketing techniques, amenities, sustainability practices, and program engagement initiatives will take your farmers market to new heights.

Janet Bloom, POW! Strategies, Inc.
Cristina Sheppard-Decius, POW! Strategies, Inc. & Birmingham Shopping District
Forum C45-Minute Crash Course
Developing a Downtown Inventory2:00 PM - 2:45 PM

This is a case study about how Laredo Main Street in Laredo, Texas, developed a downtown inventory of vacant buildings in their city. Laredo Main Street will share the goals behind the project–like understanding the vacancy rate, economic distribution of the buildings that were occupied, business mix, and customer base–and how they completed the core of the project (surveying 322 buildings over 63 blocks) in six months. Hear about their initial findings, which revealed vacancy in one-third of the buildings, and their plans for further conversations with city officials to find solutions to this issue.

Nydia Robles, Laredo Main Street
Marcela Uribe, Main Street America
East F&G45-Minute Crash Course
Festival Fiasco: Is it Time to Let That Event Go?2:00 PM - 2:45 PM

Do you have too many events? Is that program just not what it used to be? Have you been relegated to the role of professional party planner? This session is for you! Main Street is more than just events and programs, and our team will help you discover ways to evaluate your event programming: what works and how to evolve, realign, or spruce up what's become stale. And, in the end, if the party has to stop, we'll give you tactics to just SAY "NO."

Hannah Davis, Florence Downtown Development Corp.
Austin Watters, Florence Downtown Development Corp.
Forum A45-Minute Crash Course
Creative Ways to Say, “It’s Ugly!”2:00 PM - 2:45 PM

As an architect who works with many business and building owners, I have learned to be flexible and supportive of business owners and building owners who are considering façade projects. Sometimes, when arriving on site, I am surprised with the physical deterioration of a building, the layering of bad design changes over the years, or the proposed “improvements” that will claim the owner’s hard-earned money. Through multiple trainings, I learned how to address these hard core issues in a nice manner.

Ron Frantz, The University of Oklahoma, Christopher C. Gibbs College of Architecture, Environmental Design ProgramEast C45-Minute Crash Course
Turning an Empty Space into a Gathering Place2:00 PM - 2:45 PM

Washington Square, once a vacant and unsightly lot nestled in the heart of downtown Oxford, Michigan, is now being transformed into a vibrant space thanks to contributions, sponsorships, and collaborative efforts within the community.

Kelly Westbrook, Oxford DDA via the Village of OxfordEast I&J45-Minute Crash Course
City Walk BHAM: Where Birmingham Connects2:00 PM - 2:45 PM

When Birmingham’s aging downtown interstate bridges needed replacement, the challenge of transforming the dark, unsafe, and underutilized space under the bridges was accepted. An active, vibrant, welcoming public space was envisioned and a robust community engagement process provided direction on a range of potential programmatic elements. City Walk BHAM is a multi-faceted linear public space, that brings people together, improves connectivity, helps build community, and is truly where Birmingham connects. Attendees will be guided step-by-step through the project’s visualization, engagement, planning, design, and implementation.

Paul Darr, Barge Design Solutions
Janie Mauter, Barge Design Solutions
East A45-Minute Crash Course
Create a One-Page Marketing Strategy to Build Your Community’s Brand2:00 PM - 2:45 PM

As directors, we focus so much on getting the work done that creating a plan can be challenging. When it comes to marketing, we either frantically post on social media or conduct some other tactic and hope it works. In this session, learn how to create a marketing strategy that your Promotions Team can easily execute. Leave the session with goal and strategy planning tools, brand boards, and a one-page marketing plan for any budget.

Olivia Manning, Main Street Bernardsville/ My Community CoachForum B45-Minute Crash Course
Starting the DEIA Conversation2:00 PM - 2:45 PM

Join this facilitated discussion to learn why intentional inclusion should be a high priority for both organizations and communities alike. In this workshop, we will look at the economics and business case for implementing diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility strategies, and discuss steps of mobilizing your community and obtaining buy-in through the Main Street Approach™.

Joi Austin, Main Street America
Jackie Swihart, MSA
East D&E45-Minute Crash Course
Human Faces, Human Stories: 3 Steps to Community Storytelling2:00 PM - 3:30 PM

Community storytelling is one of the most effective ways to cultivate inclusion, belonging, and ownership within your community. And anyone can do it! This workshop will teach you a simple but powerful three-step process for implementing successful and sustainable human-centered storytelling that will attract new visitors and citizens, while practicing skills that can apply to any kind of marketing, including writing, photography, and social media management. Learn from Phil Eich, founder of Storyville, and representatives from Michigan Main Street, who have seen real results from this transformative storytelling work.

Phil Eich, Storyville
Polly Schneider, Cheboygan Main Street DDA
Jillian Tremonti, Michigan Main Street
Forum EDeep Dive Session
16th Street Baptist Church & Kelly Ingram Park 2:00 PM - 4:00 PM

The 16th Street Baptist Church and the city of Birmingham drew worldwide attention on September 15, 1963, when 11-year-old Denice McNair, and Addie Mae Collins, Cynthia Wesley, and Carole Robertson, all 14, were killed in a Ku Klux Klan bombing of the church. The tour includes a visit to the church to learn about its role in the Civil Rights Movement (including an optional video that addresses the church’s history and the bombing), followed by exploration of Kelly Ingram Park. The park was an assembly point for participants in the Southern Christian Leadership Conference’s “Project C" (for Confrontation), which included organized sit-ins, boycotts, marches, and jailing's designed to end segregation in Birmingham.  Note this is a walking workshop departing from the BJCC.

  Mobile Workshop
Historic Preservation and History Funding for Your Diverse Community3:00 PM - 4:15 PM

Have you been wondering how to fund inclusive historic preservation and history projects that protect and reflect your Main Street’s diverse community? Join expert grant managers from the Tribal, Local, Plans and Grants division along with some of Alabama’s star grant recipients as they discuss the National Park Service’s African American Civil Rights, Underrepresented Communities, and History of Equal Rights competitive grant programs.

Marla Collum, National Park Service
Mary Shell, National Park Service
Caroline Swope, City of Decatur, AL
Forum C75-Minute Classroom Session
Code and Zoning Best Practices for Economic Prosperity3:00 PM - 4:15 PM

Have you ever been surprised by your district's code and zoning regulations? We have! While working with our Main Street programs, it became clear that, over time, code and zoning had changed–sometimes due to the loudest voice at the time and many times–it these regulations no longer made much sense. So we took action! Learn how Main Street Alabama began working with its designated Main Street districts to review their codes and zoning ordinances to determine what was actually on the books and then provide recommendations for best practices that would support economic development in the context of historic preservation.

Jason Fondren, KPS Group
Mary Helmer Wirth, Main Street Alabama
East F&G75-Minute Classroom Session
Celebrating With Science: New Opportunities for Main Streets3:00 PM - 4:15 PM

Local Main Streets know how to use history, art, culture, and commerce to build community. But there may be a resource you have overlooked: science! Celebrations involving science and scientists can engage new collaborators and sponsors, while serving your community in new ways. Hear from leaders of the Science Festival Alliance, a Main Street that runs a science festival, and Main Streets that integrated science into their events for the recent total solar eclipse. Whether you are looking to create something entirely new or integrate science programming into existing events, you will learn how to get started in this session.

Ben Wiehe, MIT Museum
Jacquelyn Connolly, Los Alamos MainStreet & Creative District
Elizabeth Michael, SoMa 501 Little Rock, Inc.
East A75-Minute Classroom Session
Maine's Ecosystem Builders: Creating Inclusive Entrepreneurship Opportunities3:00 PM - 4:15 PM

Maine has been working on rural, place-based ecosystem building since 2019. The program now includes 13 communities that have undertaken ecosystem audits and developed implementation projects based on those findings. Leaders from three Main Street districts will share their audit findings and how this process helped them define their implementation projects, which included a focus on marginalized groups including youth, those living in poverty, and BIPOC and LGTBQ + communities. Learn how Maine is using entrepreneurship to create more inclusive and welcoming downtowns while simultaneously strengthening the State’s ecosystem.

Michal Hall, Augusta Downtown Alliance
Delilah Poupore, Heart of Biddeford
East C75-Minute Classroom Session
Relationship-Driven Business Succession3:00 PM - 4:15 PM

Learn about the crucial relationships behind successful business succession! Local Main Street program staff and volunteers play a key role in general community relationship-building that can ultimately result in the ability to match buyers to sellers. Relationships that Main Street business owners have with their employees and customers, and relationships that local Main Street programs encourage, can result in a loyal employee or customer becoming buyer of the business. And a Main Street program's experience with business succession places relationships first and then, in the best cases, follows or complements those relationships with business succession training and technical assistance.

Todd Barman, UW Madison Extension
Errin Welty, WEDC
Forum B75-Minute Classroom Session
Retail Matters: The State of Retail for Small Brick & Mortar - A Data Driven Report3:00 PM - 4:15 PM

Retail is at the center of all our communities and drives the downtown experience. Join us to learn about the state of national retail, the ever-changing consumer trends and emerging trends in small business retail, through results of the recent data-driven report conducted by Main Street America Research team, commissioned by Retail Alliance. As a downtown director, EDA director, or local government official, learn how you can use data to be a strong retail advocate and champion policy to position this important economic driver in your community.

Jenny Crittenden, Retail Merchants Association
Michael Powe, Main Street America
Matt Wagner, Main Street America
East N75-Minute Classroom Session
Rural Reimagined: Transforming Tennessee's Local Communities3:00 PM - 4:15 PM

Join us to explore Tennessee Tech University's groundbreaking Rural Reimagined Grand Challenge, dedicated to transforming rural living through science, technology, innovation, and economic development. Discover how this visionary initiative engages every academic discipline to address rural challenges that are replicable and scalable not only throughout Tennessee but across the nation and the world. With a strong emphasis on leveraging unique assets, fostering partnerships, and empowering local communities, Rural Reimagined has already made a profound impact on 67 rural Tennessee counties. Learn about pioneering models, applied research, and student-led innovations that are revitalizing local spaces and economies in rural America.

Dr. Michael Aikens, Center for Rural InnovationEast B75-Minute Classroom Session
Main Street Advocacy: Ready, Set, Pitch!3:00 PM - 4:15 PM

To be prepared to sell your program's value to public officials on a continual basis, you have to nail down your message and your quick pitch. But, we often do not have time to practice and receive feedback on our outreach skills and style. In this interactive session, work with your peers and experts to hone your pitch and understand how to effectively advocate to public officials to make the case for your Main Street program.

Lauren Cohen, National Trust for Historic Preservation
Kelly Humrichouser, Main Street America
Michael Jarosz, Main Street America
Renee Kuhlman, National Trust for Historic Preservation
Forum A75-Minute Classroom Session
Civic Infrastructure of Action and Getting Stuff Done3:00 PM - 4:15 PM

The success of a Main Street is dependent on property owners, business owners, and elected officials believing in the potential and importance of Main Street. These people are the civic infrastructure that makes projects succeed and places flourish. But what happens when you don't have that buy-in or that personnel infrastructure in place? How do you create a Main Street that is loved, with businesses that thrive, and more access to growth for people from different parts of your demographics? This session will feature community leaders building this capacity right now, and method that every participant can take home.

Frankye Payne, Main Street America
East O75-Minute Classroom Session
Main Street Vitality: Right-Sizing Regulations, Policies, and Guidelines3:00 PM - 4:15 PM

Join us for an engaging session exploring the critical intersection of local regulations, policies, and downtown revitalization strategies. During this thought-provoking session, we will delve into the challenges and opportunities many Main Street organizations face as they strive to revitalize and/or sustain their downtown areas while aligning with existing regulations and policies. We will explore innovative and right-sized approaches to updating regulations, policies, and guidelines that promote downtown investment and inclusion at varying stages of a Main Street's life by partnering key stakeholders with local government staff and officials.

Gillian Laycock, Town of Akron and Town of Hugo Main Street
Larry Lucas, DOLA
Josh Olhava, Ayres Associates, Inc.
Zoila Perry, Downtown Sheridan Association
East K&L75-Minute Classroom Session
Diversify your Downtown with BIPOC Businesses3:00 PM - 4:15 PM

Diverse representation among business owners plays a critical role in creating inclusive downtown districts. This session explores methods for recruiting business owners of color to majority-white downtown areas and equipping entrepreneurs of color with capital and support to successfully operate a business. Learn how a downtown development organization serving a medium-sized city with a 54% African American population created a loan program that invests in women and BIPOC borrowers. This session highlights the benefits of Community Development Financial Institutions as tools for inclusive place management and how downtown development organizations can incorporate lending, training, and promotional programs into their work.

Ricardo Cordew, NewTown Macon
Alex Habersham, Macon-Middle Georgia Black Pages
Lauren Marshall, NewTown Macon
East I&J75-Minute Classroom Session
How to measure your downtown’s impact3:00 PM - 4:15 PM

How we measure success lays the foundation for our work, advocacy, and investment in downtown and Main Street communities. We often utilize measurements to prove we have created a return on investment and better and higher uses in our community, but these measurements can lack the human connection to our work and can place a hierarchy of decision-making that excludes community. In this session you will learn how to measure and increase your downtown’s Return on Emotion ROE©, providing you a new tool to increase the importance of people and community in your work.

Molly Alexander, Imagine the Possibilities ITP ConsultingEast D&E75-Minute Classroom Session
Board Member Roundtable3:30 PM - 5:00 PM

Calling all board members! Join Kathy La Plante (Main Street America) and Stephen Hoffman, Ph.D. (Southeast Missouri State University) for a fun roundtable discussion to learn and share with your peers from across the country. This session provides an engaging way to learn about your roles, successes, and challenges, and how other boards guide organizations to success with a focus on the most pressing issues facing your programs and ways to stay informed about the latest changes and initiatives of Main Street.

Kathy La Plante, Main Street America
Steven Hoffman, Missouri Main Street Connection
East MDeep Dive Session
Mental Health and the Main Street Manager3:45 PM - 5:15 PM

A mental health crisis is underway, exacerbated by the pandemic and the high pressure that often comes with being a Main Street manager. In this session, an expert panel will share their tools and tactics for navigating mental health in the workplace. There will also be a moderated discussion with all present. Share your knowledge about the importance of mental health, raising kids and working, social determinants of health, and how we can do a better job as a Main Street America network for making mental health a priority.

Michelle Drapkin, PhD, ABPP, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) Center
Isaac Kremer, MSARP, Experience Princeton
Marina Rubina, Marina Rubina Architect
Forum EDeep Dive Session
Whose Culture, is it? The Plight and Power of Cultural Bearers4:30 PM - 5:15 PM

Economic developers, city planners, local nonprofits, and advocates are at a fundamental impasse: Often the priorities of those who hold the development dollars differ from those of cultural preservationists. Treme’ is noted as one of New Orleans' oldest neighborhoods and a community with a rich cultural heritage significant to American and Black history. Through this session, learn about the history of the Treme’ corridor and hear how economic development, community stakeholder, and culture bearers/advocates are leveraging equity- and place-based models to preserve culture, address gentrification concerns, and mitigate the commodification of culture.

Nyree Ramsey, UJAMAA (Economic Development Corporation)
Chandra Teddleton, NOLA Business Alliance
East I&J45-Minute Crash Course
Engaging Latino Communities Through Your Revitalization Efforts4:30 PM - 5:15 PM

The Hispanic population has accounted for 53 percent of the population growth in the United States over the last decade. Chances are that most cities and towns throughout the country have also noticed a growth in their culturally rich and tight-knit Latino communities. This session will provide an avenue to gain some tactical tips on how to engage and include Latino-owned businesses and neighbors in your revitalization efforts. From meeting attendance outreach to large-scale cultural events, you will learn how to connect and build trust with a community that is often overlooked and underserved.

Anette Landeros, Fort Worth Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
Nestor Martinez, Historic Northside District
East C45-Minute Crash Course
Advancing Social Connection to Combat Loneliness4:30 PM - 5:15 PM

Last year, the US Surgeon General published a report titled "Our Epidemic of Loneliness and Isolation," which included an Advisory on the Healing Effects of Social Connection and Community. This session will provide an overview of this powerful report as well as examples of Main Street-led initiatives and a group discussion about Main Street's role in combating loneliness.

Breanne Durham, Washington State Main Street Program
Andrea Kern, Indiana Office of Community and Affairs
Forum A45-Minute Crash Course
Mastering Disaster and Emergency Communications4:30 PM - 5:15 PM

As we face increasing climate-related disasters, public health crises, and other emergencies, mastering effective communication is a non-negotiable skill for those focused on revitalizing and sustaining their communities. Discover the power of Crisis and Emergency Risk Communication (CERC) principles and phases in the realm of disaster communication. Learn how to effectively apply CERC strategies to build trust, manage uncertainty, and communicate with diverse audiences in high-stress situations.

Jessica Worthington, Georgia Department of Community AffairsForum B45-Minute Crash Course
Youth to Leaders: How to Capture the Future4:30 PM - 5:15 PM

Create a Junior Main Street Board from the ground up! This session will explore how to build relationships with local schools, write board procedures, recruit teens to join, and more. We will also cover the partnership of the Junior Main Street Board with our Main Street members and how we utilize our board to inspire teens to be involved in the community.

Hayley Isbill, City of Sweetwater
Josh Issac, Sweetwater Main Street
East D&E45-Minute Crash Course
Building Bridges Between Diverse Cultures in Your Community4:30 PM - 5:15 PM

Our communities are beautifully diverse, but sometimes it can be challenging to connect with every group. Learn how one small Alabama town is changing this narrative by making authentic connections, celebrating culture, promoting inclusion, and ensuring that Main Street is for everyone through special events that bring all these elements together. Take away ideas for how you can implement these strategies in your own districts!

Courtney Bennett, Montevallo Main Street
Elvie Schooley, Montevallo Main Street
East K&L45-Minute Crash Course
Civil Rights History: A Tool for Community Revitalization4:30 PM - 5:15 PM

This session will explore the historical context of key Civil Rights History events and their relevance today. Presenters will examine preservationist strategies employed by American Civil Rights Heritage Sites, as well as federal, state, municipal, and private entities, to create welcoming environments. Learn about the material opportunities for comprehensive community economic and cultural developments of sacred places, and gain practical tools and insights for expanding the capacity of iconic civil rights communities.

Lukata Mjumbe, AAACRHSC
Forum C45-Minute Crash Course
Thriving Together: Building Inclusive Communities Through Small Businesses4:30 PM - 5:15 PM

In an ever-changing world, the heart of any community lies within its small businesses. They are the lifeblood that pumps vitality, creativity, and economic stability into our neighborhoods. This dynamic 45-minute crash course is designed to empower small business owners and community leaders with essential knowledge and actionable strategies for inclusive business engagement, fostering vibrant, cohesive communities where everyone thrives.

Victoria Downes, City of Boston office of Economic Inclusion and OpportunityEast B45-Minute Crash Course
Local Government Strategies to Support Economic Vitality Through Built Environments4:30 PM - 5:15 PM

Local governments play a pivotal role in fostering economic growth and vitality within their communities. The built environment, ranging from pedestrian and mobility infrastructure to public parks and shared public spaces, serves as a cornerstone for economic development. This session delves into the strategies for local governments to enable vibrant public spaces and proactively shape their built environments in ways that fuel economic prosperity and improve overall quality of life. This session will feature the City of Birmingham, Alabama, as a case study around transforming spaces through tactical urbanism in support of economic vitality in neighborhoods.

Christina Argo, City of Birmingham, Department of Transportation
Stacy Richardson, National League of Cities
East N45-Minute Crash Course
The Role of Foundations in Empowering Communities: The Boston Main Streets Foundation Model4:30 PM - 5:15 PM

Explore the role that foundations can play in nurturing grassroots efforts through a case study of the Boston Main Streets Foundation's (BMSF) approach that includes leveraging public and private funds to redirect resources to local businesses. Learn about BMSF's mission and initiatives designed to foster collaboration, sustainable progress, community pride, and Main Street entrepreneurship. Join us to understand BMSF's pivotal role and gain strategies for fostering economic growth and resilience in your own community.

Geri Denterlein, Boston Main Streets Foundation
Eric Esteves, Boston Main Streets Foundation
Aliesha Porcena, City of Boston
Thien Simpson, Hyde Park Main Streets
East A45-Minute Crash Course
Building Communities Through Time: Exploring Public History and Placemaking4:30 PM - 5:15 PM

Join us for an engaging conference session on how to harness the power of public history and placemaking. In this session, we'll delve into the intersection of community development, public history, and placemaking to create vibrant and meaningful spaces. Discover innovative approaches to preserving and celebrating local narratives, engaging community members, and fostering a sense of identity through the rich tapestry of public history. This session will also highlight successful placemaking initiatives that empower communities to shape their own stories and build a collective sense of belonging.

Jackie Swihart, MSAEast O45-Minute Crash Course
Take Back the Night4:30 PM - 5:15 PM

A lively and interactive workshop discussing how Main Streets can facilitate a thriving nighttime economy and experience.

Carmen Mays, ElevatorsEast F&G45-Minute Crash Course
Big City Reception (by invite only)5:30 PM - 8:00 PM

Join us for an opportunity to connect and share experiences with MSA’s Program Services team as well as fellow Main Street managers and other economic and community development practitioners that are working in neighborhood commercial districts located in big cities across the country. Light refreshments will be served. Don't miss this opportunity to connect and collaborate!


Sponsored by: Local Initiative Support Corporation, National Trust Community Investment Corporation, and Small Business Anti-Displacement Network.


This event is invite only and attendance is limited. See your confirmation email from the event organizer for location details.

  Special Event
Name Time Description Speakers Location Name Session Type
Registration & Check-in7:30 AM - 4:00 PM

Stop by the Registration desk is open to check in, modify your registration, or ask questions.

 BJCC East - First FloorInformation
Light Breakfast7:45 AM - 9:00 AMBe sure to plan your refreshment breaks in the expo! Visit the expo booths while enjoying delicious bites and beverages. East BallroomInformation
Main Street Expo7:45 AM - 5:45 PM

The Main Street Expo is the place to find information, products, and services that can take your local commercial district’s efforts to the next level. Featuring a variety of exhibiting companies, the Expo offers a wide range of exceptional resources.

 East BallroomInformation
Bookstore7:45 AM - 5:45 PMThe conference bookstore will be managed by Little Professor, an independent community bookstore located at Pepper Place Market in Birmingham, as well as a new location in Homewood. Meet the staff, pick up titles that can help you professionally, and find good reads for leisure time. The store is located in the Main Street Expo hall. East BallroomInformation
Industrial History in Alabama 8:30 AM - 11:30 AM

Learn about Birmingham’s rich industrial heritage with visits to Sloss Furnaces National Historical Landmark and the Vulcan Park and Museum. The immersive Sloss Furnaces tour will take you through the history of the furnaces, showing you firsthand how iron was made and what life was like for the workers who operated the facility. Get an up-close look at the massive machinery that powered the furnaces and learn about the innovations that made this site an important part of Birmingham's industrial past. Next, visit the Vulcan Park and Museum to explore the story of the iconic 56-ft tall cast iron statue (the largest in the world!) that has become a beloved feature of The Magic City. Check out the observation tower to see the statue and breathtaking views of downtown Birmingham and beyond.

  Mobile Workshop
The Church, the Children, and the Community 8:30 AM - 12:30 PM

Have a love for history and building sustainable communities? Walk through the unique 4th Avenue Historic and Civil Rights District overlay with Ivan Holloway, the CEO of Urban Impact, a Main Street member, and two local historic tour companies: Antonia Revell, CEO of Freedom Line Tours, and Paulette Robie, CEO of the foot soldier's activist Committee.  Learn the history of the events and landmarks that created and sustained the district. Engage firsthand with historic church leaders, community organizers, and small business owners, gaining perspectives for creating and supporting cultural and social placemaking in historic districts. Sample the foods of local merchants and walk off the calories on this 2500-step tour.

  Mobile Workshop
Historic Downtown Architecture Tour9:00 AM - 11:30 AM

Experience downtown Birmingham’s stunning architecture. Marvel at the historic and modern buildings that make up the city’s skyline, including the iconic Alabama Theatre, the historic John Hand Building, and the incredible Florentine Building. Your knowledgeable guide will provide insights into the design and history of each structure, revealing the stories behind the city’s most impressive buildings. We’ll take you through the heart of downtown, pointing out hidden gems and architectural details you might otherwise miss. Whether you’re an architecture enthusiast or aficionado of beautiful design, this tour is not to be missed. Book your spot today and discover the architectural beauty of downtown Birmingham.  Note that this is a walking workshop departing from BJCC.

  Mobile Workshop
Main Idea Session9:00 AM - 10:30 AM

Box, Circle, Line, Tangle: A Spatial Understanding of the Humanity of our Main Streets 

Join Erin Barnes, Main Street America President and CEO, for this Main Idea session with special guest Dr. Mindy Fullilove, a writer and social psychiatrist whose work studying cities centers displacement, mental health, and collective consciousness. 


In this intimate fireside-style chat hear how well-designed, equitable spaces can create connection to place and people, and help us heal. For a deeper dive into this important topic, pick up a copy of Dr. Fullilove's book Main Street: How a City’s Heart Connects Us All from the conference bookstore. 


After the keynote, you’re invited to experience a special musical performance and artist conversation centered on the role of live music in public spaces in sparking joy, fostering belonging, and creating places people love. Get ready to be inspired! 


Keynote speaker sponsored by: Philip A. Morris Fund for the Design Arts, a fund at the Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham.

Musical performance and artist conversation made possible with support from: Mortimer & Mimi Levitt Foundation. 

 Sheraton, Birmingham BallroomPlenary
Coffee Break10:00 AM - 10:30 AMBe sure to plan your refreshment breaks in the expo! Visit the expo booths while enjoying delicious bites and beverages. East BallroomInformation
El Cafecito10:00 AM - 10:30 AM

¡Te invito a El Cafecito! Conéctate mientras hablas en español con otros colegas. ¡Saludos! Para más información: Comuníquese con Wendy Otero,


Join us at El Cafecito! Connect and speak Spanish with colleagues. See you there! For more information: Please reach out to Wendy Otero at

 1st Floor near the Registration DeskSpecial Event
Accessing New Markets Tax Credits Subsidy10:30 AM - 11:00 AM

With interest rates and construction costs at the highest levels we have seen in years, the search continues for sources of low-cost capital. New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) financing is a critical, albeit complex, tool that can provide gap financing to projects in low-income communities. For developments that will create jobs or provide access to healthy foods, education, healthcare, or other services in a low-income community, NMTCs may be the subsidy to help complete the capital stack. This session will overview how to qualify for NMTCs, the types of projects that can utilize the funds, how to access this competitive product, and what to expect during and after closing.

Steve Ross, Regions BankForum A30-Minute Tactical Solutions Session
Generating Revenue & Data for Main Streets Through Smart Curb Management10:30 AM - 11:00 AM

Participants in this session will learn about the benefits of smart curb management systems to generate revenue, collect valuable pedestrian/auto/micromobility data, and reduce idling on Main Streets. Presenters will provide key tips on considerations (funding, duration, coordination, location) for Main Street managers in working with city departments, elected officials, and business and property owners to implement a pilot smart curb management system.

Tomika Monterville, Tomika Monterville Consulting, LLCEast B30-Minute Tactical Solutions Session
Turning Main Street Blight into Workforce Housing10:30 AM - 11:00 AM

Blighted buildings and absentee owners impact our rural Main Streets' vibrancy, economic opportunity, and social psychology. This is a David and Goliath story about the steps that Hugo Main Street has taken to gather local and state agency support and resources to revitalize a blighted property on their Main Street, from anchor eyesore to planned new small-scale workforce housing development to support teacher housing.

Gillian Laycock, Hugo Main StreetForum B30-Minute Tactical Solutions Session
The Fountain of Youth in Your Main Street10:30 AM - 11:00 AM

Recruit, embrace and celebrate the youth in your community by giving them a seat at the Main Street table. Young people are often an untapped resource in our communities, and this session will provide insight on how beneficial it can be to give them an opportunity to make a difference in your downtown, as well as the steps to take to make that happen.

Mariah Montgomery, City of Enterprise - Main Street EnterpriseEast A30-Minute Tactical Solutions Session
Data-led Placemaking10:30 AM - 11:00 AM

Learn how to use geo-fencing, QR codes, and data to strategically plan, implement, and measure placemaking. From pop-up performances to long-term economic development plays, effective placemaking requires understanding how your community interacts with your district – or doesn’t interact with your district – and why. Planning with data strengthens your efforts and gives you a basis from which to measure success. See scalable, innovative placemaking examples from Birmingham and across the country.

Julie McKinney, REV BirminghamEast I&J30-Minute Tactical Solutions Session
Walk This Way: How Walkability Helps Local Economies10:30 AM - 11:00 AM

Looking to better understand how walkability helps support your local economy? Come hear the story of a Main Street Director who walked every street and alleyway in his city (all 171 miles of them) and learn how improving the walkability of your Main Street can be your best economic development strategy. Walk away from the session with tangible tools for conducting a walkability audit of your community and the understanding of how walkability links to economic development.

Jonathan Desmarais, Downtown Inc
Leslie Gray, Jon Stover & Associates
Forum C30-Minute Tactical Solutions Session
Community-Building through International Flavors and Stories10:30 AM - 11:00 AM

One of the best ways to learn more about your neighbors is to start a conversation about food. Stories are central to the Laramie International Flavor Festival, a volunteer-led event that features 20+ downtown restaurants offering specials inspired by international students, community members from 40+ nations, and multiple events. Now entering its third year, this week-long festival fosters community-building through authentic stories and flavors–contributing to Downtown Laramie’s economic vitality. New customers visit downtown venues to celebrate diverse international neighbors and influences. Attendees will gain tools to sculpt this model into a festival that brings unique communities together.

Ali Grossman, Laramie Main Street Alliance
Deborah Ross, Laramie Main Street
East D&E30-Minute Tactical Solutions Session
Empowering Rural Voices: Strategies for Inclusive Community Leadership10:30 AM - 11:00 AM

Join us for a concise yet impactful 30-minute session tailored for community development leaders in rural settings. We'll explore practical approaches to address power dynamics, strengthen civic foundations, and foster diverse voices in your community. Discover insights on navigating difficult conversations with finesse, establishing robust civic structures, and cultivating meaningful relationships. This session is designed to provide you with actionable tools and strategies to enhance your leadership skills.

Jackie Swihart, MSAEast N30-Minute Tactical Solutions Session
Advocacy–Why You Need a Great Story!10:30 AM - 11:00 AM

Advocacy is not just a buzzword, but a crucial tool to connect you to the decision makers that influence policies and funding that will benefit your revitalization efforts. Through emotionally driven storytelling, you can advocate for your downtown in a way that draws people in, reinforces your brand, expands your funding, and builds connectivity to community. Are you ready to build your advocacy story?

Mary Helmer Wirth, Main Street AlabamaEast K&L30-Minute Tactical Solutions Session
The Role of Public Libraries in Bridging Divides10:30 AM - 11:00 AM

Bridgebuilding is an approach for promoting engagement and dialog between groups of people with different perspectives and experiences. Recognizing libraries as trusted community spaces, IREX, in collaboration with Shamichael Hallman and with support from More Perfect, created the Bridgebuilding Resource Hub to support and enhance the bridgebuilding capabilities of public libraries, to help combat rising levels of distrust and division in our communities. During this Tactical Solution Session, you will hear the various ways that public libraries are fostering community engagement and dialogue, as well as recommendations for potential partners and the community at large.

shamichael hallman, Urban Libraries CouncilEast O30-Minute Tactical Solutions Session
Equitable Entrepreneurship: Power of Community-Based Entrepreneurs & Local Coworking Spaces10:30 AM - 11:00 AM

In this engaging speaking session, we will explore the transformative potential of community-based coworking spaces in revitalizing our cherished Main Streets. Main Streets, once bustling hubs of activity, have faced challenges in recent years, including vacant storefronts and declining foot traffic. However, there's a beacon of hope in the form of community-driven coworking spaces. Our session will delve into the ways in which these innovative workspaces can breathe new life into Main Streets, fostering economic growth, community engagement, and the entrepreneurial spirit. We will explore how launching businesses from within community-based co-working spaces can support Main Street vacancies.

Alycia Levels-Moore, ASL Creative Firm & POLARIS BHMEast M30-Minute Tactical Solutions Session
Small Business Ecosystems: Lessons From the Field10:30 AM - 12:00 PM

For the last four years, the Small Business Ecosystem Initiative has aimed to eliminate racial disparities for small business owners in multiple U. S. cities by identifying entrepreneurial ecosystem gaps and uniting a coalition of local stakeholders to address them. In this session, we’ll present best practices and lessons learned from our multi-city experience, with specific implications for Main Street districts. Participants will have the chance to explore how they can apply these tools to catalyze strong ecosystems in their local place, including uniting key actors and organizations around common goals across past divides of race, geography, and power.

Tracy Lewis, Lewis and Associates LLC
Ellen Shepard, Community Allies
East CDeep Dive Session
Food Sustainability in an Urban Area11:00 AM - 1:30 PM

Jones Valley Teaching Farm encourages academic exploration and achievement through food, farming, and the culinary arts. Here, students at all grade levels learn the importance of growing food with on-site instruction. This three-acre city block includes a community garden, farm center, and plots that community gardeners lease. On this tour, enjoy the gardens and learn how Jones Valley Teaching Farm uses vibrant outdoor learning spaces and food as a foundation for creating opportunities for young people to lead, create, and grow a healthy future for themselves and their community.  Note that this is a walking workshop departing from BJCC.

  Mobile Workshop
Creating a Successful Incubator Space11:15 AM - 12:00 PM

If you build it, will they come? Batavia MainStreet has created a successful small business incubator space, the Boardwalk Shops, with 14 tenants now in brick-and-mortar locations. Building the shops was the easy part. From recruiting tenants, marketing, and managing expectations, learn what it takes to coordinate the program and the lessons we’ve learned over the last four years.

Kristen Desler, Batavia MainStreet
Jim Miller, CMSM, The District: Czech Village & New Bohemia
Beth Walker, Batavia MainStreet
East I&J45-Minute Crash Course
Building Rural Communities Through Collaborative Visioning and Design11:15 AM - 12:00 PM

Join us for this session that explores the collaborative visioning process that the rural community of Camden, Alabama, underwent in partnership with DesignAlabama and Auburn University's Urban Studio in 2018. Learn how this one collaboration has transformed this small community from a sleepy town into an Alabama destination.

Gina Clifford, DesignAlabama
Sulynn Creswell, BlackBelt Treasures
Alex Krumdieck, Auburn University
Forum A45-Minute Crash Course
Leveraging Real Estate to Advance Small Business Success in Your District11:15 AM - 12:00 PM

In this session, Main Street and commercial district small business development leaders will highlight their successes, challenges, and lessons learned from building small business accelerator spaces in their districts. From shared commercial kitchens and food hall incubators to pop-up retail shops and more, hear how these programs leveraged real estate to benefit entrepreneurs–helping many of them test and scale their business concepts and products, and move into their own storefronts.

Patric Moore, Main Street Skowhegan
Honorio Torres, The Puerto Rican Cultural Center
Sarah Morin, The Hartford
Tia Vice, Main Street America
East K&L45-Minute Crash Course
To Compete or Cooperate?11:15 AM - 12:00 PM

There are four entities focused on improving Alabama community and economic development in both rural and urban areas of Alabama: Alabama Communities of Excellence, Your Town Alabama, Design Alabama, and Main Street Alabama. We all have missions to make our state a better place, but how do we work together, rather than competing with each other? Check out this session to learn how we prioritize cooperation and effective collaboration.

Trisha Black, Main Street Alabama
Mary Jackson, Alabama League of Municipalities
Matt Leavell, Leavell Design Consulting, LLC
Gina Clifford, DesignAlabama
Forum C45-Minute Crash Course
Economic Vitality and Seasonal Economies11:15 AM - 12:00 PM

Whether you own an ice-cream shop on the Jersey shore, a ski shop in the mountains of Colorado, or a landscaping business in central Minnesota, seasonal towns have unique concerns and challenges. Learn practical strategies for promoting economic vitality by creating successful marketing approaches and offering products, events, and services that entice shareholders year-round and help seasonal businesses align with the demands of the peak season as well as the rest of the year.

Lisa Popovich, Main Street Steamboat Springs
East F&G45-Minute Crash Course
Cultivating Main Streets in New Types of Places: A Roundtable Discussion11:15 AM - 12:00 PM

What are the essential ingredients to a thriving Main Street? Thinking beyond our current network and our notions of "traditional" Main Street places, where could the Main Street approach take root? In auto-centric corridors home to strip malls? In purpose-built new developments? In communities lacking historic buildings, but rich in cultural identity? In regional networks of small rural districts? Join us for a dynamic discussion that challenges our tried-and-true notions of the buildings and blocks needed for a successful Main Street and explores the potential for community vitality and resilience in diverse new environments.

Michael Powe, Main Street America
Matt Wagner, Main Street America
East M45-Minute Crash Course
Reimagining Regulation: Targeted Reforms to Empower Local Entrepreneurs11:15 AM - 12:00 PM

Want to make it cheaper, faster, and simpler to start a small business in your city? This session will empower attendees to do just that by advocating for smart public policies that increase access to entrepreneurship. We will detail how to identify a city’s regulatory barriers to entrepreneurship, bring community voices to the table, and implement impactful reforms. Attendees will learn how to apply practical strategies and best practices to unlock their cities’ entrepreneurial potential and will walk away with an actionable toolkit of grassroots strategies to use in their communities.

Jennifer McDonald, Institute for JusticeEast N45-Minute Crash Course
How to Manage Risk on Main Street11:15 AM - 12:00 PM

National Trust Insurance Services prides itself on being a resource to Main Street organizations. We specialize in finding ways to reduce your risks through insurance and mitigation methods, so your organization is protected both now and in the future. In this session, we will discuss coverages that organizations need to consider and how to properly manage risk that Main Streets experience.

Kevin Sullivan, National Trust Insurance Services, LLC.East A45-Minute Crash Course
A Main Street Outside of Downtown? How to Tell When This is a Good Idea11:15 AM - 12:00 PM

Increasingly the Main Street model is being applied to commercial corridors beyond traditional downtown environments. The results are often impressive. This session will explore Main Street America’s latest perspective on the unique challenges and opportunities in creating new Main Street programs in larger cities or in other untraditional locations. In addition, we will share a rubric, developed by JS&A, that lays out specific criteria that we feel is essential to support an urban Main Street program and starts a discussion about how we can adapt the approach to guide decision making across the country.

Dionne Baux, Main Street America
Jon Stover, Jon Stover & Associates
Forum B45-Minute Crash Course
Main Street Renewed: Introducing the Next Generation Resource Library and Solutions Catalog11:15 AM - 12:00 PM

Join us for an enlightening session as Michigan Main Street collaborates with Arnett Muldrow & Downtown Professionals Network to showcase the latest advancements in our Main Street Solutions Center. Navigate through the ever-evolving landscape of downtown development with our enhanced resources designed to empower your growth.

Ben Muldrow, Arnett Muldrow
Jay Schlinsog, Downtown Professionals Network
Leigh Young, Michigan Main Street/MEDC
East O45-Minute Crash Course
Y'all Means All: The Story of Pikeville Pride11:15 AM - 12:00 PM

LGBTQ+ communities can be difficult to find in small towns across the country. Pikeville, Kentucky, was no exception until a group of like-minded folks decided to create the community they needed. Nestled in the heart of Appalachia, Pikeville features a beautiful downtown area and a storybook-esque Main Street. This presentation will highlight the strong partnership and collaborative efforts between Pikeville Pride and Pikeville Main Street, and showcase how LGBTQ+ communities can thrive when we all work together.

Jill Dotson, City of Pikeville
Mary Ann Fletcher, Pikeville Pride and Pikeville Main Street
Sarah Ratliff, Pikeville Pride
Joshua Thacker, Pikeville Pride
Tasha Sams, Main Street America
Lisa Sizemore, City of Pikevlle
East B45-Minute Crash Course
More Content in Less Time with Smart Repurposing11:15 AM - 12:00 PM

Today's Main Street pro can use lots of free/inexpensive and powerful online marketing communications tools–so many that it becomes overwhelming. It is great that you can create tons of content and social media posts, but finding enough time to do so can be challenging, especially for those "Mighty Teams of One." Let's talk about ways to be more productive and create more content in less time, with smart repurposing (like turning Instagram Stories into Pinterest Idea Pins) and using different digital publishing formats to promote better and faster, saving both your valuable time AND your sanity.

Sheila Scarborough, Tourism CurrentsEast D&E45-Minute Crash Course
Rehearsal: “A Song for Main Street!” 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM

All are invited to join theater & social practice artist Ash Hanson, from PlaceBase Productions and Department of Public Transformation, in learning “A Song for Main Street!,” whose lyrics have been co-created with Main Streeters across the network. This song about collective joys, challenges, and hopes in nurturing Main Street communities will debut live at the Closing Plenary! 

 Sheraton, Birmingham BallroomSpecial Event
Downtown Birmingham Overview12:30 PM - 4:30 PM

Soak in the past, present, and future of downtown Birmingham in an information-filled bus tour led by REV Birmingham President & CEO David Fleming. David, who is also a local history buff and historic building hugger, will guide you through Birmingham's history: from its founding to the hard times of segregation and the struggle for civil rights, to current efforts to authentically move the vibrant downtown forward. See notable Birmingham sites, learn the stories behind them, and ask questions along the way to get the fullest experience of downtown Birmingham!

  Mobile Workshop
Civic Leaders Lunch12:30 PM - 2:00 PM

Civic Leaders Lunch: Celebrating Civic Infrastructure Through the Community Development Block Grant

From small businesses to streetlamps, the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) has provided support to projects to uplift community priorities for both urban and rural areas for 50 years. Whether in an entitlement or non-entitlement area, civic leaders interested in promoting downtown reinvestment can utilize CDBG funding for a variety of projects that align with Main Street program goals. During this 50th anniversary year, join us to celebrate CDBG success stories and learn how you can create investments in civic infrastructure, adaptive reuse, and quality of life using this essential program.


Sponsored by: City of Birmingham.


This session is an invite-only event for attendees registered at the Civic Leader rate and special guests. No RSVP requiredpresent your conference badge for admission. Seating is limited and will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis. No outside food, please.

 East MSpecial Event
Unleashing Progress with Crowdsourced Work2:00 PM - 3:15 PM

Learn how to take the community-driven planning process a step further and empower citizens to implement your next comprehensive plan by leveraging resources from the local philanthropic community. See what can happen when the plan is hyper-focused on people: community-wide ownership, inspirational results, and renewed civic pride!

Erin Keller, NewTown Macon, Inc
Darius Maynard, Community Foundation of Central Georgia
Alex Morrison, Macon Bibb County Government
East B75-Minute Classroom Session
Building A Collaborative Community Support Network for Rural Entrepreneurs2:00 PM - 3:15 PM

Over the last year, Main Street America and Forward Cities, in actionable collaboration, have developed and implemented a pilot program focused on creating effective, equitable, and inclusive community support networks for rural entrepreneurs. Working with nine fantastic Main Street Coordinators, the program spans the Main Street America network and includes 30 rural communities–with both unique and similar challenges. This session will include the content and deliverables from the pilot program, lessons learned, and a celebratory glance at our success stories, impact, and wins.

Joi Austin, Main Street America
Fay Horwitt, Forward Cities
East N75-Minute Classroom Session
Empowering Communities to Invest in Themselves2:00 PM - 3:15 PM

Crowdfunding democratizes the funding process by gathering grassroots support for community and economic development projects, allowing changemakers and placemakers to transform Main Streets by realizing funding opportunities beyond banks, investors, and traditional grants. The financial investment is shared across the community, lessening the financial burden, and engaging stakeholders in the process as key investors in a project’s future development. Attendees will be empowered to utilize crowdfunding as a viable funding source for community and economic development projects, engage their community in every step of the process, and attract grassroots investment to create a more vibrant, equitable, and sustainable community.

Bridget Anderson, Patronicity
Missy Krulik, Heart of Lebanon
Jae'da Turner, Patronicity
Nicholas Klempp, Main Street Holly
Annaka Norris, MSARP, Main Street Oakland County
Forum A75-Minute Classroom Session
Anti-Displacement Strategies: Stories from the SBAN Network2:00 PM - 3:15 PM

The Small Business Anti-Displacement Network (SBAN) is a network of leaders and organizations committed to helping small businesses stay in place especially in black and brown communities. SBAN commissioned 11 case studies from around the world to learn about successful best practices and tools that are working to stem small businesses from being displaced in gentrifying neighborhoods. Two of the eleven case studies are in Main Street communities. After an overview of the 11 SBAN case studies, hear about in-depth strategies from leaders in Miami and D.C., using the Main Street framework to keep their small business in place.

Mileyka Burgos-Flores, Allapattah Collaborative CDC
Brianne Dornbush, District Bridges
Manuel Ochoa, Ochoa Urban Collaborative
Francesca Escoto, Allapattah Collaborative CDC
Forum B75-Minute Classroom Session
Building a Culture of Welcoming Through Inclusive Marketing2:00 PM - 3:15 PM

Like the nation’s trail system, our Main Streets are meant to welcome you in—but not everyone feels included. Trail, walking, and biking infrastructure is leveraged to create more connections to Main Streets nationwide. We can learn from those practitioners how to intentionally engage an audience that reflects the country’s rich diversity and build a culture of welcoming. Join Rails to Trails Conservancy for a discussion with iHeart radio and social media content creators rooted in real-world examples about what it takes to create an authentic, inclusive marketing strategy that welcomes, connects and energizes.

Brandi Horton, Rails to Trails Conservancy
Taylor Tomczyszyn, iHeart Media
Blake Fulton, iHeartMedia
East D&E75-Minute Classroom Session
Local Main Streets as Real Estate Developers2:00 PM - 3:15 PM

This session will feature a panel of Main Street managers and partners who have bought, developed, own, and manage properties in their own districts. The panel will walk Main Street managers through fundamental steps for launching your own development projects and common challenges to avoid. Basics of real estate financing for non-profits will also be discussed. The benefits of owning and managing a property in your district will be explored, including organizational financial sustainability, and filling specific use needs that your market is not delivering. Our panelists will share specific examples from their own real estate projects to illustrate their learnings and insights and audience members will have time for Q&A at the end of the panel.

Jamie DeBacker, Warrensburg Main Street
Dasjon Jordan, Broad Community Connections
Bethany Rogers, Main Street America
Josh Rogers, NewTown
East O75-Minute Classroom Session
Tackling Downtown Developments with Investment Groups2:00 PM - 3:15 PM

Learn how to form, operate, and guide investment groups to generate redevelopment in your community. Sustainable development often requires diverse constituent groups that pool resources, expertise, and time in tackling building opportunities. This session will focus on legal formation, mission/vision, project identification, pitch elements, financial analysis, project management, alternative finance, government relations, and Main Street's role in executing building rehabilitations for commercial and residential use.

Robert Swanson, Swanson House
Ben Moore, TC2
Jeff Williams, TC2
Casey Woods, Emporia Main Street
East F&G75-Minute Classroom Session
One Theater Can Make a Difference2:00 PM - 3:15 PM

In the words of the longtime owner of the Varsity Cinema, “One theater can make a difference”. Using an in-depth case study on the revitalization of the Varsity Cinema in Des Moines, Iowa, this session will explore the difference that one theater is making in its community. The nonprofit-owned Varsity Cinema reopened in 2022 after a three-year rehabilitation process. The project has helped catalyze the post-pandemic economic revitalization of the district, leveraged creative fundraising solutions, introduced diverse voices and perspectives to the community through its unique programming, and reimagined an enhanced use of a neglected, vacant historic theater.

Michael Wagler, Main Street IowaForum C75-Minute Classroom Session
Activate Rural: Artist-Led Activation of Community Assets2:00 PM - 3:15 PM

Department of Public Transformation (DoPT) will share examples of creative building activation projects led by artists and activators to cultivate welcoming, creative, and connective physical places in rural communities. DoPT’s Creative Executive Officer, Ash Hanson and Activate Rural Program Director, Sarina Otaibi, will present key reasons why cities benefit from engaging artists in community asset design and civic engagement by highlighting activation projects ranging from BIPOC and Native-led creative gathering places to a cooperatively owned movie theater and taproom. Session takeaways include asset activation challenges and how Main Street organizations work with artists to remove or address barriers to these challenges.

Ash Hanson, Department of Public Transformation
Sarina Otaibi, Department of Public Transformation
East C75-Minute Classroom Session
Is it Time for a Fifth Point?2:00 PM - 3:15 PM

The Main Street Approach is universally accepted as a successful framework for revitalizing downtowns, and yet many communities are seeing rising rates of social isolation and civic disengagement, increasing income disparity, and catastrophic levels of disease and illness. In this informative, discussion-based session, we will ask if it’s time for Main Street organizations to add a Fifth Point: Health.

Julie Fitzpatrick, 2025 Main Street Now Conference
Sarah Collier, National Road Heritage Corridor
East K&L75-Minute Classroom Session
Practical Approaches to Placekeeping2:00 PM - 3:15 PM

Join us for a tactical discussion as we define and operationalize placekeeping, exploring the intersection of public administration, public art, and small and minority business support in its principles and implementation. Using case studies from the Birmingham Civil Rights District and around the nation, we discuss the opportunities and challenges of placekeeping.

Erica Chisolm, E L Creative, LLC
Elijah E. Davis, Mounts + Margins | HAANDS
Carmen Mays, Elevators
Dr. Ariel D. Smith, Wake Forest University
East I&J75-Minute Classroom Session
Putting the Real in Real Estate2:00 PM - 3:15 PM

Learn how several Main Street Alabama communities have used real estate redevelopment plans to spur interest in neglected and underutilized properties by combining market analysis, public input, marketing, and financial pro formas. Examples range from rural to urban and from all income levels. Discussion will cover housing, entrepreneurship, and the importance of leveraging the Main Street Approach.

Joe Borgstrom, Place + Main Advisors, LLC
Mariah Montgomery, City of Enterprise - Main Street Enterprise
Shinora Redmond, Main Street Atmore
Roy Stoves, Urban Impact Inc.
East A75-Minute Classroom Session
Equitable Access to Storefronts is All About Ownership2:00 PM - 4:00 PM

Who owns the storefronts and who has access to the storefronts dictates the economic future of a community. Too often, vital main street buildings sit empty because of a distant or legacy property owner, or storefronts are filled with local businesses but the business owners do not reflect the demographics of the community. How do we create more equitable access to the storefronts? It is all about ownership. This session will feature local leaders who are creating models that Main Streets and their partners can use create more equitable access to those spaces.

ILANA PREUSS, Recast CityForum EDeep Dive Session
From Surviving to Thriving: A Long-Term Main Street Directors Roundtable2:45 PM - 4:15 PM

If you’ve been leading a local Main Street program for a couple of years or more, you have likely never had a boring moment, but plenty of days that can feel overwhelming. Join peers from across the country for a unique opportunity to connect with each other and discuss key tools and tips that help us not only survive but thrive in our roles for the long-term. This session is for Main Street directors only, and is recommended for those with more than 3 years leading a local Main Street program.

Norma Miess, Main Street AmericaEast MDeep Dive Session
Building a Digital Main Street3:30 PM - 4:15 PM

Are you exploring ways to support your brick-and-mortar small businesses with digital infrastructure? Learn how South Carolina built a statewide digital community that features and uplifts local communities. Participants will leave the session armed with a list of next steps and a workplan template to begin building their own digital community.

Jenny Boulware, Main Street South Carolina
Kate Giovambattista, BEYOND MAIN STREET
East A45-Minute Crash Course
Engaging Volunteers to Support Legacy Businesses3:30 PM - 4:15 PM

During the pandemic small businesses struggled to pivot. Legacy businesses owned by immigrants with limited technology abilities especially struggled to communicate their operations online. In response, the Little Tokyo Service Center (LTSC) rallied a network of 80+ volunteers to help get small businesses online and to amplify their messages. In this session, learn how LTSC established their "Small Business Hype Squad" and have adapted it to provide continuing support.

Mariko Lochridge, Little Tokyo Service CenterEast F&G45-Minute Crash Course
Driving Social Impact Capital to Create Thriving Main Streets: The Alabama Small Deal Fund Pilot3:30 PM - 4:15 PM

Few things are more important to a healthy Main Street than the ability to attract capital to real estate development projects. Yet we know that many essential projects struggle to access the financing needed. This is especially true for projects with budgets of $5M or less. Join Main Street Alabama, Main Street America, and Opportunity Alabama to learn about a pilot program that is attracting philanthropic capital to Main Streets in Selma, Alabama, and beyond.

Alex Flachbart, Opportunity Alabama
Patrice Frey, Main Street America
Mary Helmer Wirth, Main Street Alabama
East K&L45-Minute Crash Course
Using A.I. on our Main Streets3:30 PM - 4:15 PM

This session explores current use trends of artificial intelligence systems like ChatGPT and their potential impact on our small businesses and our own work as Main Street directors. Hear from a panel of Main Streeters who will share how they are engaging with A.I. and the potential payoffs in time and money.

Janet Hurn, Future Ready Consulting
Matt Wagner, Main Street America
Joi Austin, Main Street America
East O45-Minute Crash Course
Your New Main Street Policies and Procedures Manual3:30 PM - 4:15 PM

Oregon Main Street recently completed a simple PDF fill-in-the-blank-type organizational Policies and Procedures Manual, and we invite you to use it, too. The 75-page colorful manual is meant for Main Street organizations that currently have no written policies. Our manual has chapters on ethics and accountability, purchasing, communications, administration, board of directors, and committees.

Donna Ann Harris, Heritage Consulting inc
Sheri Stuart, Oregon Main Street
Forum A45-Minute Crash Course
Messy, Amazing, Inclusive Boards that Work3:30 PM - 4:15 PM

Building a board with a spectrum of voices to sing harmoniously is messy, imperfect, and beautiful. Adding new, different voices isn't about a checking a box: it's about building organizations that reflect the fullness of your community. This session will cover the nuts and bolts to building an inclusive board with the pitfalls and problems. Learn an accurate board assessment tool that doesn't look like a checklist. In real talk, we will discuss how challenging it is to embrace a diverse culture when everyone is learning how to do it simultaneously and how to hold ourselves accountable for leaning into the mess.

Jacqueline Wolven, Main Street Eureka SpringsForum B45-Minute Crash Course
The Secret to Filling Main Street Storefronts3:30 PM - 4:15 PM

As a Main Street organization, your plate is full. Putting stable businesses in your storefronts, on top of everything else, can seem like a daunting task. But without vibrant businesses, your Main Street will struggle to become a destination. The good news is: you don’t have to do it alone. In this session, drop in on a conversation between a Main Street initiative in Birmingham, Alabama, and Create Birmingham, an arts organization, as they discuss how an unlikely partnership led to more businesses not only in their storefronts, but also across the city—and how you can do the same.

Rebekah Marr, CO.STARTERS
Jessica Moody, Create Birmingham
East C45-Minute Crash Course
What's Next: From Building Inventory to Housing Action3:30 PM - 4:15 PM

Over the past few years, Main Street America's Research team has developed multiple reports and tools focused on housing, including the new “Building Opportunity on Main Street” (BOOMS) Tracker. In this session, we will explore the data that has been collected through the BOOMS Tracker thus far and discuss the meaning and implications of that information (e.g., projections of additional housing units that could be added in vacant spaces, economic impacts of newly occupied units, etc.). Finally, we will discuss promising next steps local programs can take toward activating vacant spaces and adding housing.

Michael Powe, Main Street AmericaEast N45-Minute Crash Course
Build Engagement by Building Trust3:30 PM - 4:15 PM

Does your downtown organization struggle with engagement? Do you feel like the community has trouble understanding the work that you do? This actionable workshop will explore the key to increasing engagement and investment to reach your organization’s goals: TRUST. Learn what trust looks like in a community-focused organization, why it is vital to its success, and how to build it, nurture it, and repair it. Identify your town’s unique assets that can be used to build stories that your community can see themselves in and in doing so, create avenues to build trust and engagement.

Libby Imbody, AuthentiCiTY Brand Strategies
Kevin Bronson, City of Westminster
East D&E45-Minute Crash Course
Innovative Rural Business Models3:30 PM - 4:15 PM

Are you struggling to find and keep businesses in your downtown? Do businesses start, only to quickly flame out? Imagine if potential entrepreneurs could start with smaller-scale tests to learn what works before making a huge investment. People need new, accessible business formats and new ways of doing business, including pop-ups, shared buildings, businesses inside of other businesses, and more. Join us for the real-world stories of entrepreneurs already using these new reimagined business models. Learn how you can adapt them for your community, pull down the barriers to entry, and open up opportunities to more people.

Deb Brown, SaveYour.TownForum C45-Minute Crash Course
Brownfields on Main Street: Strategies, Tools, and Grants3:30 PM - 4:15 PM

Whether it’s the old gas station on the corner of Main and Commerce, the dry cleaner that’s gone out of business due to COVID, or the never-ending asbestos-laden renovation project, downtown redevelopment is often hampered by the fear of the unknown. Learn the basics of brownfield redevelopment through the lens of Main Street and downtown redevelopment. This session will present a breakdown of the EPA Brownfield Grant opportunities, setting the stage for a winning grant proposal in the fall. If you are more of a “Cliff Notes” person than a connoisseur of literary hyperbole, this session is for you.

Trey Hess, PPM Consultants, Inc.East B45-Minute Crash Course
Exhibitor Reception4:30 PM - 5:45 PM

Meet up with colleagues and friends to enjoy light refreshments and explore the Expo! You will find great services, products, and information you need to help build your program. Plus, you won’t want to miss the Exhibitor Raffle for the chance to win some fabulous prizes.


How to Play the Exhibitor Raffle:

1. Pick up a raffle passport during registration and visit participating booths around the Main Street Expo to collect signatures.  

2. Bring your completed passport to the Main Street America booth in the center of the Hall by 5:20pm on Tuesday.  

3. Drawings for prizes will be held at 5:30pm during the Exhibitor Reception. You must be present to win.


*BONUS* Mary Means Book Signing

Visit the conference bookstore, from 4:30 p.m. - 5:30 p.m., to connect with Mary and get your copy of her book, "Main Street's Comeback," signed. Bring your own or purchase one from the bookstore.

 East BallroomSpecial Event
LGBTQ+ Main Street Mixer7:00 PM - 9:00 PM

An opportunity for members and allies of the LGBTQ+ community to network during a social, no-host meet up. This event will be hosted at Al's on 7th, and is 21+. Please reach out to Chad Banks at or Matt Wiederhold at with any questions! A special thanks to Urality for sponsoring this event!


Al's on Seventh

2627 7th Ave S

 Al's on SeventhSpecial Event
Name Time Description Speakers Location Name Session Type
Registration & Check-in7:30 AM - 12:00 PMThe Registration desk is open to check in, modify your regitration, and ask question. BJCC East - First FloorInformation
Main Street Expo7:45 AM - 11:00 AM

The Main Street Expo is the place to find information, products, and services that can take your local commercial district’s efforts to the next level. Featuring a variety of exhibiting companies, the Expo offers a wide range of exceptional resources.

 East BallroomInformation
Light Breakfast7:45 AM - 9:00 AMBe sure to plan your refreshment breaks in the expo! Visit the expo booths while enjoying delicious bites and beverages. East BallroomInformation
Bookstore7:45 AM - 11:00 AMThe conference bookstore will be managed by Little Professor, an independent community bookstore located at Pepper Place Market in Birmingham, as well as a new location in Homewood. Meet the staff, pick up titles that can help you professionally, and find good reads for leisure time. The store is located in the Main Street Expo hall. East BallroomInformation
Catalysts Through Connectivity: Railroad Park, Rotary Trail & Rickwood Field8:45 AM - 12:00 PM

Hailed as “Birmingham’s Living Room,” Railroad Park provides a unique venue for local recreation, family activities, concerts, and cultural events, while connecting Birmingham’s downtown area with the historic Southside community and University of Alabama at Birmingham’s campus. On this tour, experience the 19-acre green space that celebrates the industrial and artistic heritage of the Magic City and learn about the projects that serve as economic catalysts through connectivity. Walk along the Rotary Trail while hearing about its transformation from an abandoned railroad right-of-way into a landscaped, multi-use pathway that connects residents to street-level destinations and provides venues for people to gather. Enjoy a visit to Rickwood Field, the oldest professional baseball park in the United States.

  Mobile Workshop
Creative Approaches to Downtown Challenges9:00 AM - 9:45 AM

Since 2018, Artists on Main Street (AoMS) has been activating artists and creatives in historic downtowns in Minnesota and North Dakota. A collaboration between Minnesota Main Street and Springboard for the Arts, AoMS has provided an alternative means to solving challenges that downtowns face. Using Main Street basic principles combined with creative people-power approaches, local artists and creatives have been trained in placemaking initiatives to tackle the tough issues that their towns face. By employing a "lots of little" approach, AoMS has changed people's minds and transformed downtowns.

Emily Kurash Casey, Rethos | Minnesota Main StreetEast K&L45-Minute Crash Course
Reimagining Local Spaces through Hazard Mitigation Planning9:00 AM - 9:45 AM

In this interactive and informative workshop, we will explore how hazard mitigation planning can serve as a catalyst for transforming local spaces and bolstering local initiatives. In recent years, communities across the country have faced numerous challenges due to natural disasters, climate change, and other hazards. As a result, there is a growing recognition of the need to proactively address these risks while simultaneously creating vibrant, resilient, and economically prosperous spaces for residents and visitors alike. Learn how to work with existing community planning groups, or establish new groups, to meet FEMA requirements for mitigation planning and apply for funding.

Emily Hathcock, Barren River Area Development DistrictEast N45-Minute Crash Course
Strategic Doing: Developing Community with Downtown Juneteenth Celebrations9:00 AM - 9:45 AM

As Southern downtowns were historically segregated spaces, holding a celebration commemorating the end of slavery in these places offers the opportunity to make a powerful statement with and about your community. This session shares how a rural Southern Main Street program partnered with community members to develop buy-in for their own downtown Juneteenth celebrations. Presenters will draw from their experience—including the challenges faced—to discuss and offer concrete ways to welcome various stakeholders, decenter whiteness, and celebrate your community’s culture.

Danielle Housenick, Main Street Russellville
Dr. Kelly Jones, Arkansas Tech University
East A45-Minute Crash Course
Flowing Through Decisions for Storefront Projects9:00 AM - 9:45 AM

Storefronts are one of the most important features of Main Street buildings due to their historic, aesthetic, and economic impacts. However, they can be one of the most challenging parts of a building rehabilitation. This session will take you through the decision-making process in a simple flow chart-style manner, so you can become confident in advising owners on appropriate storefront rehabilitations.

Sarah Lembke, Iowa Economic Development Authority (Main Street Iowa)East B45-Minute Crash Course
Using Surveys to Improve Your Main Street9:00 AM - 9:45 AM

Understanding what's happening in your commercial district is vitally important to your local revitalization efforts, but how do you gather that information? This session will explore different survey types for engaging local businesses and consumers to learn more about how they feel about your Main Street district. And once you have all that juicy data, what the heck do you do with it? We'll share examples of survey templates (both Consumer & Business), hints and tips for completing a local survey, and ways to share the data after it's collected.

Robin Bostrom, Main Street IowaEast M45-Minute Crash Course
Activate the First 16 Feet9:00 AM - 9:45 AM

The First 16 Feet is where the life of Main Streets start and end. People experience Main Street at a human scale, which can be measured in a three-dimensional First 16 Feet: 16 feet out from a building façade and 16 feet from the ground up. It is the most important determinant of safe and active street life, and the most overlooked. This session will help you focus on the area where shared human experiences are most felt and learn small interventions to unlock the energy of the First 16 Feet in your district.

Ed Sharrer, YARD & Company
Layne Ferguson, YARD & Company
East F&G45-Minute Crash Course
Live Podcast Recording: Main Street Business Insights9:00 AM - 9:45 AM

Attend a live recording of an episode of Main Street Business Insights, a podcast powered by Main Street America that explores insights and wisdom from Main Street entrepreneurs and local economic development leaders. Host Matt Wagner, Ph.D., Chief Program Officer at Main Street America, will sit down with Alycia Levels-Moore, founder and CEO of ASL Creative Strategies, a Birmingham-based project management company that creates spaces, education, and partnerships with the purpose of eliminating the racial wealth gap by supporting the creation and scale of Black-owned businesses. She’s also the founder of POLARIS, a new flexible co-working and event space in Birmingham’s Woodlawn district. In their conversation, Matt and Alycia will discuss Alycia’s passion for supporting creators and innovators, and how she helps entrepreneurs move from where they are to where they want to be.

Alycia Levels-Moore, ASL Creative Firm & POLARIS BHM
Matt Wagner, Main Street America
Forum B45-Minute Crash Course
Tips to Build an Effective Entrepreneurial Ecosystem9:00 AM - 9:45 AM

Take a deep dive into the steps required to build a needs-based entrepreneurial ecosystem while exploring the importance of assessing clients needs and using community voice to create programs that greatly impact the entire community. Learn how identifying barriers and gaps in knowledge, while utilizing cultural competence, can create an equitable experience for merchants and residents, and understand the benefits of establishing relationships with local and national small business service providers and trusted community spaces to remove barriers for participants. Attendees will feel prepared to build their own eco-system that support merchants in their neighborhoods.

LarKesha Burns, Burten Bell Carr Development IncEast D&E45-Minute Crash Course
What Smartphone Location Data Means for Main Street9:00 AM - 9:45 AM

Mobile location data provides powerful insights into the behavior of visitors to Main Street districts: Who is visiting? When are they coming and how long are they staying? How does Main Street programming really impact visitation patterns? In this session, we will introduce this type of data and quickly showcase a few quick applications of the information for Main Street, focusing on its potential for bolstering our understanding Main Street districts' market profiles, the demographic diversity of district visitors, and the impacts of events and other Main Street programming.

Michael Powe, Main Street America
Ian Ross,
East O45-Minute Crash Course
smART Trails: Moving to Increase Economic Impact9:00 AM - 9:45 AM

This session explores the transformative power of art showcasing award-winning art trails: Literary Capital Sculpture and Story Trails plus the smArt Moves Mural Trail. Speakers will demonstrate how to create unique capital stacks for any budget, reading, history, health and exercise, and ADA accessibility to celebrate your community's unique stories. Learn how to leverage the arts to promote health and wellness, cultivate community pride, and create positive economic impact. Speakers will share best practices and insights for creating successful art trails that engage residents and visitors alike. See how art can transform a community by bringing its stories to life!

Ruth Brock, Alabama Extension at Auburn University
Anne Marie Deas Bryan, Monroeville Main Street
East C45-Minute Crash Course
Building the Bridge: The Community Impact of Partnerships Between Main Street and the Continuum of Care9:00 AM - 9:45 AM

This session will help explore how Main Street can work together with Continuums of Care to work to solve issues of homelessness and access to affordable workforce housing and services. Attendees will learn how to leverage board members to assist in forming partnerships between their Main Street organizations and service providers, as well join the conversation with local municipalities, homelessness and housing agencies, and other community stakeholders to ensure small business voices are represented in sustainable solutions.

Megan Samples, George Washington Regional Commission / Fredericksburg Main StreetForum C45-Minute Crash Course
Fostering Belonging in Public Spaces Through Live Music9:00 AM - 10:30 AM

In recent years, the sharp rise in loneliness–a public health crisis according to the U.S. Surgeon General–has led to renewed efforts to combat social isolation. Main Street organizations be part of the solution by developing inclusive programs and activities that inspire social connections and foster belonging. Join this timely panel featuring three nonprofit leaders from across the country who recognize the power of music in public spaces to bring people together and build social capital. Through sharing their own compelling case studies, the session will explore strategies and lessons learned to inform Main Street activities and outcomes.

Tina Betz, City of Wilmington, DE/Cityfest, Inc.
Michael Bulloch, Gallup MainStreet ACD
Andrea Dono, Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance
Victoria Bridenstine, Levitt Foundation
Forum EDeep Dive Session
Boards on the Rise: Advancing a Strategic, Forward-Facing Board9:00 AM - 12:00 PM

Just as the work in Main Street programs has advanced in complexity to meet the changing needs of communities, so must the approach of the Boards who serve those communities. Join the team from ORIANA solutions to understand how current trends are influencing Board behavior and composition, how to strategically align your Board recruitment with your goals, and how to improve engagement within your Board. This practical, fun, and interactive session is designed for staff and Board members who appreciate that strong Boards can be the secret sauce to a more vibrant Main Street program.

Lindsay Del Chiaro, ORIANA solutions, LLC
Deborah Turcott, ORIANA solutions, LLC
East I&JDeep Dive Session
Walking Tour of Woodlawn9:00 AM - 12:00 PM

Learn about the community-led revitalization of Woodlawn, a thriving historic business district just east of downtown Birmingham, in a walking tour led by REV Birmingham and community partners. Hear about the rich history of the neighborhood and REV Birmingham’s unique approach to commercial revitalization that includes working with community facilitators to strengthen the business community, enrich the district with placemaking initiatives and events, and become a hub for equitable entrepreneurship in the city. The tour includes visits to REV Birmingham's offices housed in SocialVenture, a once vacant warehouse-turned-meeting, co-working, and change-making space, and Woodlawn Marketplace, a retail incubator that features long-time Woodlawn Street Market vendors. Plus, see the newly renovated Woodlawn Theater, Dr. Henry Panion's music studio and teaching lab, and The Way, an alley featuring murals painted by female artists.

  Mobile Workshop
Birmingham's On-Demand Transit Success Story10:00 AM - 10:30 AM

Discover how to breathe new life into your Main Street with host city Birmingham's inspiring journey. Explore concrete strategies, backed by real statistics, to enhance accessibility and economic mobility in your community. Learn how to implement on-demand transit, bridge socio-economic gaps, and foster inclusivity. Our panel of experts will share Birmingham's blueprint for success, equipping you with actionable insights to revitalize your Main Street and create thriving, resilient communities.

Christina Argo, City of Birmingham, Department of Transportation
Eric Gardiner, Via Transportation
Terence McPherson, Via Transportation
East A30-Minute Tactical Solutions Session
How to Catalyze Partnerships for More Events with Less Work10:00 AM - 10:30 AM

Main Streets are more than just an event planning committee–they are grassroots economic drivers. Have you ever been asked: "How many festivals does your Main Street organize?" Or has a member of your board said: "We should host more events!" In this case study session, Downtown Terre Haute will show you how they are working to increase the quantity and quality of festivals in their district by not only hosting events themselves, but also teaching others how to do the same.

Josh Alsip, Terre Haute Chamber of CommerceEast M30-Minute Tactical Solutions Session
Start with Stakeholders: Beautification and Spatial Justice10:00 AM - 10:30 AM

Hear a case study of a community process that started with the stakeholders in the neighborhood of Jamaica Plain, Boston. A simple beautification project turned into a lifeline for the community living in a public housing development. This workshop will review the community process we undertook, our organization’s conversations about spatial justice, and how we built our capacity for racial equity and placemaking.

Ginger Brown, JP Centre/South Main StreetsEast O30-Minute Tactical Solutions Session
Quilting on the Street: Connecting Generations, Enriching Asphalt10:00 AM - 10:30 AM

Learn about the Sharpsburg Youth Design Camp, a three-day summer workshop where middle schoolers learned about quilting from elder community members, built a model of a street that was safe and welcoming for people of all ages, and then collaboratively designed and painted a quilt square mural on the street outside of a local park. This workshop will tie the Design Camp to larger themes of teaching design skills to young people, utilizing the design thinking process to create sustainable solutions for community issues, building community across generations, and implementing asphalt art projects to increase walkability and enliven the public realm.

Mercedes Fraser, University of Kentucky - Community and Economic Development Initiative of Kentucky
Alice Hilton, R.L. Brown Foundation
Forum C30-Minute Tactical Solutions Session
Learning from the Route 66 Centennial10:00 AM - 10:30 AM

Anniversaries offer opportunities to invest in improvements and create an inclusive welcoming experience for residents and visitors. As preparations for the 2026 Route 66 Centennial gear up, learn how Oklahoma’s Main Street Center is finding creative ways to breathe new life into Oklahoma’s Route 66 communities. Hear how the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Preserve Route 66 Initiative is supporting Route 66 sites telling a more inclusive story, as well as supporting a diverse range of Route 66 legacy businesses. Whether preparing for the Route 66 Centennial or looking for new ideas to capitalize on a significant milestone, this session is for you.

Kerry Barrick, Oklahoma Main Street
Amy Webb, National Trust for Historic Preservation
East C30-Minute Tactical Solutions Session
Boosting Montreal's Local Economy Through Cycling and Walking10:00 AM - 10:30 AM

In November 2020, the City of Montreal introduced the Reseau Express Velo (REV), or Express Bike Network, effectively transforming a network of arterials throughout the city into complete streets by repurposing vehicles lanes into dedicated AAA bicycle pathways. This session will focus on how pedestrian, bicycle, and vehicle count data can be used to demonstrate how infrastructural improvements and an increase in bicycle and pedestrian traffic boosted the local economy on Saint-Denis Street.

Quentin Freixo, Eco-Counter
Daniel Legere, Eco-Counter
East B30-Minute Tactical Solutions Session
HTC Tax Reform: New Heights or Dangerous Fall?10:00 AM - 10:30 AM

If the Historic Tax Credit (HTC) is a key tool in your Main Streeter toolbox, then this session is for you! Join Main Street America and National Trust Community Investment Corporation (NTCIC) for a discussion about legislative priorities and advocacy opportunities related to the HTC as we approach 2025 and the expiration of tax provisions within the Tax Cuts and Job Acts of 2017. Learn more about what activity policy experts are seeing on Capitol Hill and how Main Street leaders and advocates can do to help support the Historic Tax Credit Growth and Opportunity Act (HTC-GO).

Kelly Humrichouser, Main Street America
Michael Phillips, National Trust Community Investment Corporation (NTCIC)
East D&E30-Minute Tactical Solutions Session
Funding Quick Action Projects Through the AARP Community Challenge10:00 AM - 10:30 AM

The AARP Community Challenge grant program is part of the nationwide AARP Livable Communities initiative that helps communities become great places to live for residents of all ages. The program is intended to help communities make immediate improvements and jump-start long-term progress in support of residents of all ages. Join us for a conversation on the impact the AARP Community Challenge is having in local communities and learn how you can use the AARP Community to fund tangible community improvement.

Mandla Moyo, AARP
Evey Owen, AARP - Livable Communities
Lisa Thrift, City of Opelika/Main Street Board Member
Tawanna Wright, AARP
East K&L30-Minute Tactical Solutions Session
How to Run a Main Street Blog10:00 AM - 10:30 AM

Blogs are a powerful way to share success stories, provide resources, and promote your organization. But if you've never run a blog before, it can be intimidating. This session will dive into the ways that Main Streets can use blogs to promote their work. It will also lay out key considerations for authors, including knowing your audience, setting clear goals, "blog style" writing maintaining a series, and promoting your blog online.

Marta Olmos, Main Street AmericaForum B30-Minute Tactical Solutions Session
Sustaining Black Culture Through Food Truck Entrepreneurship10:00 AM - 10:30 AM

Black street food entrepreneurs have historically been and consistently are the vanguards of Black cultural presence in cities across the United States. Specifically, Black-owned food trucks play a central role of preserving Black culture in places where gentrification serves as a vehicle for its erasure. These enterprises not only offer a means for placemaking, but also economic citizenship and social mobility. This session offers suggestions on how to foster an ecosystem where Black-owned food trucks are centralized so that Black businesses and Black culture thrive as cities grow and develop.

Dr. Ariel D. Smith, Wake Forest UniversityForum A30-Minute Tactical Solutions Session
Coffee Break10:30 AM - 11:00 AMBe sure to plan your refreshment breaks in the expo! Visit the expo booths while enjoying delicious bites and beverages. East BallroomInformation
El Cafecito10:30 AM - 11:00 AM

¡Te invito a El Cafecito! Conéctate mientras hablas en español con otros colegas. ¡Saludos! Para más información: Comuníquese con Wendy Otero,


Join us at El Cafecito! Connect and speak Spanish with colleagues. See you there! For more information: Please reach out to Wendy Otero at

 1st Floor near the Registration DeskSpecial Event
Lamentations: Those emptying houses of worship11:00 AM - 12:15 PM

Houses of worship are the icons of most Main Streets, but as membership ages and declines, America’s faith buildings face an uncertain future. Three seasoned veterans who have worked on multiple sides of the issue will discuss how Main Street programs might address the emptying of churches. The session will encourage Q-and-A and offer implementable, take-home advice.

Dr. Chris Elisara, Thriving Cities Group
Mary Means, Diva
Rick Reinhard, Niagara Consulting Group
Forum B75-Minute Classroom Session
Design and Cultural Education for Vibrant Places11:00 AM - 12:15 PM

Learn how urban design and cultural resources professionals are collaborating with Main Streets and communities to improve streetscapes, connectivity, and wayfinding by telling cultural stories in those civic infrastructure elements. Panelists will share insights on how urban planners, architects, and designers can help provide physical spaces that highlight the history and people that contributed to a place, and create a welcoming and inclusive environment for local businesses, residents, and visitors. They will provide a examples of supporting historic African American Main Streets in Atlanta, Georgia, and Buffalo, New York.

Joy Bailey Bryant, Lord Cultural Resources, US
Allison Bickers, Cooper Carry
Paul Bowman, Cooper Carry
East C75-Minute Classroom Session
Recipe for a Successful Federal Grant Application11:00 AM - 12:15 PM

Can’t locate the secret sauce recipe to fund your historic preservation and history projects? Well, State Tribal, Local, Plans and Grants grant management specialist are sharing all the ingredients (and 8 competitive historic preservation grant programs). Tips and tools for stirring up a successful grant application will be unveiled, as well as the most common mistakes that make a grant application flop. This recipe includes a final dusting of advice from a successful grant awardee.

Megan Brown, National Park Service
Katherine Carey, State, Tribal, Local, Plans and Grants, National Park Service
Dorothy Walker, Alabama Historical Commission
East F&G75-Minute Classroom Session
Diversify Your Revenue Sources Today!11:00 AM - 12:15 PM

Established downtown organizations need regular and predictable income to ensure a viable future. This workshop explains the board’s role in fundraising and how it delegates fundraising responsibilities to the four committees and staff. We will show the quickest ways to raise revenue if you are in a pinch, and where most of your charitable contributions should come from. We’ll highlight the seven traditional Main Street revenue sources and emphasize three—residential membership/investor campaigns, sponsorship, and fundraising events—where the organization controls both the output and outcome. Finally, we’ll explore ideal revenue mixes at various stages as your organization grows.

Donna Ann Harris, Heritage Consulting incEast K&L75-Minute Classroom Session
Unlocking Economic Potential and Community Wealth Through Trails11:00 AM - 12:15 PM

In communities across the country–from rural, to urban and suburban–trail networks are taking root to create happier and healthier places to live, work, and play. Additionally, these systems of active transportation infrastructure are providing outsized economic impact, generating more than $34.1 billion annually. Join Rails-to-Trails Conservancy and a panel of leaders from across the country to see how they’ve harnessed the power of these power economic engines to transform their regions and learn how Main Streets and trail networks can work hand-in-hand to create thriving communities.

Mary Ellen Koontz, Rails to Trails Conservancy
Kelly Pack, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy
Alexander Petry, Main Street Fairmont
Brian Rushing, The University of Alabama Center for Economic Development
East B75-Minute Classroom Session
Investment Approaches for Small Town Main Street Development11:00 AM - 12:15 PM

Small towns and rural communities across the country are grappling with blighted and abandoned properties, economic transition, and–in many cases–the impacts of the climate crisis. Additionally, these communities are most in need of capital investment, but have limited capacity and access to the capital needed to breathe life into their historic hubs: Main Street. Simultaneously, as people seek climate havens and smaller, more affordable communities, there’s never been a better time to invest in small town redevelopment. Join the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Invest Appalachia, and partners in exploring the challenges and opportunities to small downtown redevelopment, and emerging tools and investment strategies being tested across the country to drive capital into high-potential, high-need small towns.

Baylen Campbell, Invest Appalachia
James Hardy, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
Stephanie Tyree, WV Community Development Hub
Hannah Vargason, UNH Center for Impact Finance
East O75-Minute Classroom Session
Are You the Next Great American Main Street? Hear Advice and Tips from the 2024 Recipients11:00 AM - 12:15 PMHear from this year's Great American Main Street Award (GAMSA) winners about their successes, the challenges they've overcome, and their plans for the future. Plus, you may get some helpful application tips! Forum C75-Minute Classroom Session
Encouraging Good Storefront Design with Façade Programs11:00 AM - 12:15 PM

The storefront is usually the most prominent feature of a historic commercial building, playing a crucial role in drawing customers and increasing business. It is not surprising that the storefront is also the feature most commonly altered in a historic commercial building. Many alterations have completely changed or destroyed the distinguishing features that give the storefront its historic character. Learn how to retain and preserve remaining functional and decorative historic features, such as display windows, signs, doors, transoms, lower window panels, and cornices; retain later storefronts that have acquired significance; replace deteriorated or missing features based on remaining physical evidence; and preserve the storefront’s character even when there is a new use on the inside.

Buffy Hughes, Oklahoma Main Street
Lisa Thompson, Main Street America
East D&E75-Minute Classroom Session
MSA and USDOT: Thriving Communities and Transformative Transportation Projects11:00 AM - 12:15 PM

In 2023, Main Street America won a $5.9 million grant from the US Department of Transportation's Thriving Communities Program. Over a two-year period, MSA is supporting a cohort of 20 rural and tribal communities, by building local capacity and delivering technical assistance to pursue transformative transportation projects. Hear from a few communities that are utilizing the program to develop projects that improve quality of life, advance equitable economic development, and help places become more resilient.

Magdalena Gillespie, Main Street America
Oscar Guzman, City of Cedartown
Shane Hampton, Main Street America
Willie Lake, York, Alabama
Chase Milner, First Tennessee Development District
Cecilia Arritola, Office of Secretary of Transportation (OST), Build America Bureau
East A75-Minute Classroom Session
Numbers + Stories + Distribution = Successful Study11:00 AM - 12:15 PM

Main Street Alabama commissioned an analysis to evaluate and put into context Main Street numbers from the last ten years, including net new jobs, net new businesses, public and private sector investment, etc. However, it is about more than just numbers! We visited six districts to determine the "how and why" behind the numbers, and then used innovative marketing strategies to share our findings.

Katlyn Cotton, PlaceEconomics
Mary Helmer Wirth, Main Street Alabama
Donovan Rypkema, PlaceEconomics
East N75-Minute Classroom Session
Cultural & Historic Preservation in Disinvested Communities11:00 AM - 12:15 PM

Many of our commercial districts have experienced years of disinvestment and economic hardship. We have seen waves of gentrification that often push out legacy businesses and do little to celebrate the cultural assets of the district. In this session we will hear from leaders who are tackling these challenges head on and making great strides to create economic vitality and community development that is innovative and inclusive. Panelists will discuss strategies to preserve cultural assets and create economic vitality in disinvested communities of color. We will hear from leaders who are tackling these challenges head on and making great strides using innovative and inclusive solutions.

Amanda Elliott, Main Street America
Jason Foster, Destination Crenshaw
Carolyn Johnson, Black Cultural Zone
Forum A75-Minute Classroom Session
Disaster Resiliency in our Main Streets11:00 AM - 12:15 PM

This panel will feature four Main Street managers from across our national network – Montpellier, Vermont, Denham Springs, Louisiana, Miami, Florida, and Puerto Rico. These Main Street managers are at various stages of recovery from damaging hurricane, storm, and flooding events, and all are seriously considering what it means to prepare and reduce risk now for the next major event in their communities. Featuring research and insights that have grown out of Main Street America’s work with the National Park Service on disaster planning and recovery in Main Street districts and our CDBG-DR Whole Community Resiliency Planning work in Puerto Rico, the panelists will share practical steps and personal insights on how to plan, prepare, recover, and adapt so your districts can minimize risk and continue to thrive despite growing climate vulnerabilities and increased disaster occurrences of all types across our Main Streets.

Mileyka Burgos-Flores, Allapattah Collaborative CDC
Hannah Mira Friedland, Main Street America
Donna Jennings, Denham Springs Main Street
Manuel Ochoa, Ochoa Urban Collaborative
Bethany Rogers, Main Street America
East M75-Minute Classroom Session
Accessible Main Streets for All11:00 AM - 12:30 PM

Are you apprehensive about engaging with people living with mobility challenges or disabilities? Do you worry about accidentally saying or doing something wrong? If yes, then this session is for you! This is not an ADA-compliance session, but rather one that will dispel myths, offer tools that you and your team can use to view the Four Points from a perspective of the uniquely-abled, sensitively engage with people, and concretely identify ways to build a sense of PLACE for everyone. This workshop will provide resources and workshop time to plan three ways your organization can take the accessibility plunge immediately!

JB BrownCrowley, Hilton Village Main Street
Andrea Dono, Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance
Glen Hoffherr, Culpeper Renaissance, Inc.
Forum EDeep Dive Session
Pioneer Churches of Birmingham1:00 PM - 3:00 PM

Experience the beauty and diversity of the architecture of Birmingham’s Pioneer Downtown Houses of Worship on this walking tour that explores the four remaining original churches of The Magic City (and visits the site of the fifth). Hear about the founding of the churches and their history, from their original simple wooden buildings to the towering edifices of brick and stone that exist today. Please note: This walking tour does not include visits to the interiors of any sites; respectful visitation of these active places of worship is required.  Note that this is a walking workshop departing from BJCC.

  Mobile Workshop
Inclusive Placemaking in Action2:00 PM - 3:15 PM

Recovery from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic has been slow for cities worldwide. Downtowns are struggling to gain workers and visitors, and to create a safe, vibrant place for the community to converge. Practical solutions to this scenario lie in the hands of the community. With a case study from Vancouver, Washington's Great River Arts Festival, this 75-minute session will envision what creative and inclusive placemaking can look like. The festival brings together artists, businesses, and property owners and inspires downtown revitalization. Join us for presentations, conversation, and a Q&A to learn more!

Michael Walker, Vancouver's Downtown Association
Ricky Gaspar, Local Boy Tatau
Ishmael Nunez, BDS Planning and Urban Design
Forum A75-Minute Classroom Session
Cultivating Community-Centered Economic Inclusion in Rural and Small Town Commercial Corridors2:00 PM - 3:15 PM

Many rural and small-town leaders have successfully led downtown revitalization strategies to strengthen local assets and cultivate downtowns as regional economic hubs. Even with their successes, research from Brookings and Main Street America identified that many downtowns still face challenges in ensuring revitalization benefits reach all residents of a community—regardless of race, age, gender, immigration status, and tenure of residence. This session will discuss practical lessons from a community-centered economic inclusion initiative designed to promote inclusive commercial corridor revitalization outcomes in three diverse towns—including those with new immigrant populations, long-standing racial and economic divides, and challenges retaining young residents.

Clarence Hulse, Economic Development Corporation Michigan City
Hanna Love, Brookings Institution
Mathew Nicholson, City of Seymour
William Taft, Local Initiatives Support Corporation
East N75-Minute Classroom Session
The Business of Preservation: Community and Cooperation in Oklahoma City2:00 PM - 3:15 PM

Hear how the National Trust for the Historic Preservation's African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund is exploring preservation economics to promote equity and justice through its Business of Preservation initiative. Panelists will introduce the initiative's inaugural project: a collaborative effort with the Oklahoma City Urban Renewal Authority (OCURA) and the Oklahoma City Redevelopment Authority to preserve the Brockway Center and Lyons-Luster Mansion. Learn about these historically significant sites; how community members co-designed a vision for these properties based on legacies of Black excellence, service, entrepreneurship, and cooperative economics in both the initial visioning phase and the technical feasibility study; and the ways that the trust and energy generated during community visioning enabled an exploration of innovative, collective ownership structures. Panelists will also discuss opportunities and challenges in balancing alternative ownership models–especially those designed to help residents retain and invest in their neighborhoods–with long-term financial sustainability.

Annie Barress, AEA Consulting NYC
Melissa Jest, The National Trust for Historic Preservation
Andrea Luster
Vanessa Morrison, Open Design Collective OK
East C75-Minute Classroom Session
So You Have a Historic Building, Now What?2:00 PM - 3:15 PM

Join a panel of development, real estate finance, and economic development experts for a discussion about ways to transform underutilized historic buildings into vibrant additions to any Main Street community. In this engaging session, you will gain an understanding of different resources that may be available, how to establish relationships with groups that can be of assistance, and how to pitch a project to potential financing partners. Moderated by Mike Phillips, Director of Public Policy at National Trust Community Investment Corporation.

John Campo, Campo Architects
Michael Phillips, National Trust Community Investment Corporation (NTCIC)
Fred Rendfray, Downtown Economic Development for the Downtown Mobile Alliance
Steve Ross, Regions Bank
East D&E75-Minute Classroom Session
People-First Strategies for Place-Based Community Investment2:00 PM - 3:15 PM

Russell: A Place of Promise (RPOP) is a justice- based initiative focused on generating investments in the people and places of Louisville, Kentucky’s Russell neighborhood, a historically Black community just west of the central business district. RPOP’s investments are driven by a unique power-sharing model that centers resident values and priorities in defining place-based development and wealth-building initiatives, including Main Street-level business and large-scale commercial projects. This session will explore strategies and benefits of investing in people before substantial investments are made in place-based projects as a practice for building community wealth, sustainability, connection, and long-term success.

Cassandra Webb, Russell: A Place of Promise
Theresa Zawacki, Russell: A Place of Promise
Naela Imanyara Serikali, Russell: A Place of Promise
East A75-Minute Classroom Session
Big Ideas for Small Towns2:00 PM - 3:15 PM

If your town population is a few thousand people, or maybe a few hundred, what can you do to improve your community? Small towns are where community development and economic development intersect to create an exceptional quality of life, but you have to start with a big idea. This session will explore economic vitality, design, and promotion projects and initiatives that are helping small towns spur development, attract visitors, and get the recognition that they deserve!

Sherry Adams, North Carolina Main Street & Rural Planning Center
Liz Parham, NC Main Street & Rural Planning Center
East O75-Minute Classroom Session
Insights from the Breaking Barriers to Business (B3) Initiative2:00 PM - 3:15 PM

In this session, we explore The Breaking Barriers to Business Initiative (B3), a 3-year project with the goal of accelerating meaningful transformations in entrepreneurial ecosystems that pose disproportionate systemic barriers. This unique partnership between Living Cities and Main Street America, with support from the Truist Foundation, has launched in five cities: Miami, Atlanta, Memphis, Nashville, and Charlotte. This initiative aims to ensure that business owners of color have equitable access to the knowledge and resources they need to launch, maintain, and expand their enterprises. The B3 team, local business-serving organizations, and government agencies will share insights from the first year, including how city governments are receiving the program, increased partnership opportunities to develop business-benefiting programs and incentives, and strategies developed locally to guarantee that the entrepreneurial ecosystem is equitable for business owners who identify as BIPOC.

Dionne Baux, Main Street America
Alycia Levels-Moore, ASL Creative Firm & POLARIS BHM
East M75-Minute Classroom Session
Starting Your Journey to Success: A Session for New Main Street Directors2:00 PM - 3:15 PM

Welcome to Main Street! Your role as a Main Street director is crucial for building, growing, and sustaining the success of your community’s revitalization program. This interactive session, specially designed for new Main Street directors, will offer key leadership strategies and best practices to position your role to success.

Norma Miess, Main Street AmericaEast K&L75-Minute Classroom Session
Co-Creating Civic Infrastructure for Vibrant, Connected Communities2:00 PM - 3:15 PM

Social isolation is a growing concern across the country. The recent U.S. Surgeon General’s advisory on combating the loneliness epidemic calls for the development of a comprehensive national strategy for creating more social connection. Efforts in Macon, Georgia, and Detroit, Michigan, show that Main Streets have a unique opportunity to be part of the solution. Through action-oriented planning processes, diverse teams in downtown Macon and Detroit’s Fitzgerald neighborhood are redesigning and reprogramming the built environment to build a culture of connection. Learn how these collaborative efforts, with commercial districts at their heart, are co-creating civic infrastructure to deliver more connected, vibrant communities.

Bridget Marquis, Reimagining the Civic Commons | U3 Advisors
Caitlin Murphy, Live6 Alliance
Josh Rogers, NewTown
Taqee Vernon, Live6 Alliance
Forum B75-Minute Classroom Session
Federal Resource Hub for Thriving Communities2:00 PM - 3:15 PM

Join representatives from federal agencies involved in the Interagency Thriving Communities Network as they discuss collaboration across the network, planning, implementation, and technical support, and direct opportunities for communities. The panel discussion will be followed by “office hours” where conference attendees can speak with federal agency officials to address specific questions.

Kelly Humrichouser, Main Street America
Michael Jarosz, Main Street America
Kenneth E. Free, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
Jeremiah Rivera, U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Community Engagement
Lucas Blankenship, U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development
Sandra Cutts, PhD., Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of State and Community Energy Programs
Sharece Tyer, Build America Bureau at the U.S. Department of Transportation
Nivory Gordon, Jr., USDA
Forum C75-Minute Classroom Session
Partnering with the Public Library to Support Entrepreneurs2:00 PM - 3:15 PM

Libraries have not traditionally been viewed as key players in entrepreneurial ecosystems, yet public libraries across the U.S. and Canada provide services to local entrepreneurs every day. From free access to makerspaces, the internet, and other resources, to formal trainings and business planning support, libraries make entrepreneurship more accessible, especially for residents of color and other groups traditionally underrepresented in the small business community. This session will explore the types of services that libraries provide entrepreneurs and offer suggestions for Main Street programs and other economic development organizations that are interested in partnering with their local libraries.

shamichael hallman, Urban Libraries Council
Katie Sullivan, Urban Libraries Council
East F&G75-Minute Classroom Session
Lift Every Voice: Idea Share About Main Street Now2:00 PM - 3:15 PM

Join the Main Street Now Conference conversation! Share your thoughts and ideas on how we can enrich our conference experience. Tell us about the types of events and topics you'd like to see, especially those that will help create a more inclusive conference and broaden our reach to communities and groups that may have been overlooked. This will be an interactive “talk back” session with Main Street America staff. Bring your ideas and come ready to share!

Amanda Elliott, Main Street AmericaForum E75-Minute Classroom Session
Leveraging Outdoor Recreation to Create Vibrant Alabama Downtowns2:00 PM - 3:15 PM

We will discuss outdoor recreation trends in rural communities as they relate to downtown economic development, funding strategies available, and EPA’s Office of Community Revitalization technical assistance program, Recreational Economy for Rural Communities (RERC). The RERC program works with rural communities and small towns who have an interest in receiving planning assistance to help them leverage outdoor recreation for Main Street revitalization. Two RERC Main Street communities, Jasper, Alabama, and Columbiana, Alabama, will share their experiences to guide attendees through valuable lessons learned to help them navigate outdoor recreation hurdles and opportunities in their own communities.

Lauryn Coombs, US EPA
Elyse Peters, University of Alabama
Ali Payne, City of Columbiana
East B75-Minute Classroom Session
Main Street en Español: Strategies to Engage Latino & Hispanic Communities2:00 PM - 3:15 PM

Latino and Hispanic communities across the United States are diverse, which can present challenges for Main Street organizations in the outreach and engagement process. This session will explore the intricacies of engaging Latino/Hispanic residents to your local Main Street organization and programming, and how they need to be adapted to local circumstances and evaluated for effectiveness. Hear about experiences and examples of outreach efforts tailored to meet the unique engagement needs of the community

Gustavo Ustariz, Main Street AmericaEast I&J75-Minute Classroom Session
Closing Plenary3:45 PM - 5:30 PM

We will conclude the 2024 Main Street Now Conference with a celebration of joy, community, and the power of place. Our closing plenary will include remarks by Erin Barnes, President and CEO of Main Street America; a graduation ceremony for Main Street America Revitalization Professional Credential recipients; the presentation of the 2024 Mary Means Leadership Award; and an inspiring keynote presented by Dr. Akilah Watkins—plus the debut musical performance of “A Song for Main Street!” 


Main Street Momentum: Civic Infrastructure and Civil Infrastructure  

Join us for a discussion with Dr. Akilah Watkins—a leading national voice in nonprofit advocacy—on the intersection of civic infrastructure (our institutions, networks, and people) and civil infrastructure (our cities, bridges, and streets). In this dynamic keynote, Akilah will share her perspectives on ways to drive impactful, positive changes for communities, and you will gain insights into the power of the nonprofit sector, learn about the challenges and opportunities facing nonprofit advocacy, hear more about innovative strategies for inclusive leadership, and discover actionable approaches for fostering equitable community development. 


2024 Mary Means Leadership Award is sponsored by Regions Bank.

 Sheraton, Birmingham BallroomPlenary
Big Bash6:30 PM - 10:30 PM

Celebrate the closing of Main Street Now 2024 with a party at Sloss Furnaces, one of Birmingham’s unique historic landmarks. Join friends and colleagues for hors d'oeuvres, beverages, live entertainment by Z and the Party Faktory, and dancing while you immerse yourself in the Magic City’s industrial ironworks heritage.*  


Sloss Furnaces, 20 32nd St N

Getting there: Transportation is provided. Buses will depart Birmingham Jefferson Convention Center from 6:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m. Return trips will run from 8:00pm - 10:00pm. 


*Requires additional registration. Check in with the registration desk for availability.

 Sloss FurnacesSpecial Event