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Submissions Deadline

September 30, 2022 (5pm) 

NC Main Street Champion Nominations


Nominations Word Document

Online Portal Link

NC Small Town Main Street Award Nominations


Nominations Word Document

Nominations Budget

Online Portal Link


NC Main Street 

Trek On Down


Main Street

March 14-16, 2023

Statesville, NC

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2022 Heritage Sponsors

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2022 Legacy Sponsors

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2022 Tradition Sponsors

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2022 Preservation Sponsors

ACSM, Inc.        Artificial Ice Events        Benchmark Planning        Glen Rave, Inc        Haven Creative Agency        NC Economic Development 

Partner Community Capital        Rehab Development        The Bogle Firm Architecture       Wonder Guides


Please register below based on your level of participation


To register for the actual conference - during the process you will have the option to register for the Awards and Champion Ceremonies


For people who are not attending the virtual conference but want the link for the virtual awards ceremony


For people who are not attending the virtual  conference but want to secure a free ticket to attend the virtual  champion ceremony

Virtual Conference Rates

Full Conference Rates


  • Conference Registration

  • Optional Wednesday Award Ceremony

  • Optional Thursday Champion Recognition  


  • $185   Early Bird Rate    

    • 1/06/22 - 2/15/22        

  • $200   Regular Rate    

    • 2/16/22 - 3/01/22

  • $255   Late Full Rate        

    • 3/02/22 OR on site if event is not sold out

Daily Conference Rates


  • Conference Registration

  • Optional Wednesday Award Ceremony

  • Optional Thursday Champion Recognition


  • $160    Tuesday Only Rate           

    • 1/06/22 - 3/01/22   

  • $160    Wednesday Only Rate      

    • 1/06/22 - 3/01/22   

  • $195     Late Rate - Either Days         

    • 3/02/22 OR on site if event is not sold out

Student Conference Rates


  • Conference Registration

  • Optional Wednesday Award Ceremony

  • Optional Thursday Champion Recognition

Pricing: Student ID Required at Check In

  • $145    Full Conference Rate                 

    • 1/06/22 - 3/01/22        

  • $125    Tuesday Only Rate              

    • 1/06/22 - 3/01/22         

  • $125   Wednesday Only Rate     

    • 1/06/22 - 3/01/22 

  • $180    Late Full Rate

    • 3/02/22 OR on site if event is not sold out  

  • $160    Late Day Rate - Either Days   

    • 3/02/22 OR on site if event is not sold out

2022 Virtual Conference Information

The NC Main Street & Rural Planning Center is committed to providing premier training and education during the annual NC Main Street Conference, the nation’s largest statewide downtown revitalization conference. 


Considering these priorities, our team has been closely monitoring event guidance from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) and the NC Department of Health of Human Services (NCDHHS), and consulting with the NC Department of Commerce leadership and healthcare professionals in Iredell County and Statesville. 


In an abundance of caution, and like many organizations, we have made the difficult decision to transition the 2022 NC Main Street Conference to a virtual platform to safely provide the same high-quality learning that is synonymous with the annual event.  

Like last year’s event, we will setup a conference platform to engage with presenters, exhibitors, and attendees during the virtual event.  


We look forward to seeing you online in March! 


If you HAVE already registered:

  • If you plan to attend the conference virtually and have already registered, you do not need to register again. 

  • Closer to the time of the conference, those that have registered for the FULL conference will be sent instructions on how to update their own conference  profile page.  Start working on your bio and find that awesome headshot!

  • Per our policy, you may request a full refund minus a 10% administrative fee in writing by March 1, 2022, at  

  • If you paid for the awards ceremony, you will automatically receive a full refund of $45 per person on Monday, 1/24/22, and this typically takes a few days.  


If you HAVE NOT registered:

  • Look over the website for exciting classes that you can take, while staying safe in your own community!

  • Register based on your level of participation. 

  • IMPORTANT:  If you don't want to join the full conference, but want to watch the awards ceremony, and/or champion ceremony, you MUST register so that we can send you a link the day before the ceremony.  

  • Closer to the time of the conference, those that have registered for the FULL conference will be sent instructions on how to update their own conference  profile page.  Start working on your bio and find that awesome headshot!


We look forward to seeing you online in March!


Conference Schedule:

The conference schedule will remain the same, with the exception of not having the welcome reception and in person tours.  There may be some time adjustments to the current schedule. We will update the website and the conference pdf brochure in the near future.



If you booked your hotel, please cancel them soon so that the hotels may book your room.  Click HERE for the PDF of the local hotels.


Registration Questions:

Sharon Tripp

Registration Coordinator

CE Credits:

  • APA CE credits #9228335 may be found HERE

  • NCBOLA credits have been submitted - pending approval of 10 hours.  Contact NCBOLA HERE


"This conference has been funded in part by a grant from the Terence L. Mills Fund for North and South Carolina of the National Trust for Historic Preservation."


Healthy Communities Begin on Main Street

The effects of COVID-19 over the last two years have left rural communities and Main Street programs feeling like they were on a rough roller coaster ride. Yet, despite the hardships that community leaders, local governments, business and property owners, and citizens have endured, an underlying motivation to make North Carolina towns and cities healthier and more resilient has been rekindled from the embers of the global pandemic.


Healthy Communities Begin on Main Street is an exploration of the many ways that Main Street programs, in collaboration with their stakeholders and partners, are incorporating healthy lifestyle best practices into their downtown economic development strategies and implementation plans. Between food, infrastructure, housing, education, job creation, equity and inclusion, and quality of life initiatives, Main Street programs are working with the public and private sectors to make significant improvements in their downtown districts.


The 2022 North Carolina Main Street Conference will explore communities that are offering healthy living opportunities for residents, while also positioning themselves for increased investment and job creation. Urban agriculture initiatives and the mitigation of food deserts are improving access to healthy food options. Inclusive playground building, public space enhancements, and the intersection of trail development and downtown are increasing opportunities for daily physical activity. From tiny house developments to mill redevelopment and upper story lofts, workforce housing is being addressed with creativity and investment. Downtown educational facilities are reconnecting youth with the hearts of communities. Small businesses are still the number one job creation sector and communities that are embracing small business support as an economic development strategy are seeing significant job growth and retention. The 2020 census demonstrated the diversification of our state’s population that is spurring downtown programming to be more equitable and inclusive. And the resurgence of quality of life initiatives are drawing people together in downtown in new, innovative, ways. North Carolina Main Street communities, have seen more than $4 billion in investment since the inception of the program in 1980, and more than $453 million in investment in fiscal year 2020-2021. Healthy community initiatives are leveraging many of these investments, rebuilding downtowns to serve as neighborhoods for everyone, and bringing communities together to address common goals.


The North Carolina Main Street Conference is the largest statewide downtown revitalization conference in the country. Attendees include downtown economic development professionals, elected officials and local government staff, rural leaders, volunteers, business and property owners, consultants, vendors, and sponsors that are all interested in trends, initiatives, and success stories they can use to leverage downtown and community revitalization in their own communities.


This milestone event will be held virtually in 2022 due to the pandemic. Our commitment to safety will not diminish the high-quality learning experience that you will receive at this year’s conference. Expect a mix of inspiring keynotes, engaging plenary and break-out sessions, and a downtown toolkit of pre-recorded sessions with experienced presenters that you can listen to repeatedly and at your convenience. This year’s conference will provide you with the tools, data, and knowledge to take on any challenge that comes your way. The North Carolina Main Street Conference offers the most innovative approaches to downtown revitalization and redevelopment available in the state and, perhaps, in the southeast.


We will see you on the computer in March!

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2022 Keynote Speakers


Mark Fenton


Tuesday | 3:15

Mark Fenton is a nationally recognized public health, planning, and transportation consultant, an adjunct associate professor at Tufts University’s Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, and former host of the America’s Walking series on PBS television. He has consulted with the University of North Carolina’s National Center for Safe Routes to School and Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center. Mark has also led training and planning processes for pedestrian, bicycle, and transit-friendly designs in communities across the United States, Canada, and Australia. An important conduit for this work is providing technical assistance to communities through the Centers for Disease Control, YMCAs, community foundations, Main Street organizations, and other public health and community development programs. He studied engineering and biomechanics at the Massachusetts Institute Technology (B.S. and M.S.) and the US Olympic Training Center, managed the Human Performance Laboratory at Reebok, and has published many articles and books related to exercise science, physical activity promotion, and the need for policy interventions to increase active transportation. Mark tries to practice what he preaches, having served as a member and chair of his community’s planning board, and making as many routine trips as possible on foot or by bicycle. Find out more about Mark on his website,

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Melody Warnick


Wednesday | 9:00

Freelance writer Melody Warnick’s book This Is Where You Belong: Finding Home Wherever You Are is a practical guide to loving the place where you live that’s been featured in the New York Times, Time magazine, Fast Company, Psychology Today, and others.


A regular speaker about place attachment, Melody also writes for the New York Times, Washington Post, Slate, Reader’s Digest, The Guardian, and Woman’s Day. Her second book, If You Could Live Anywhere, about how location-independent people choose where to live and how local economies support their success, comes out from Sourcebooks in June 2022.


Melody lives with her family in Blacksburg, Virginia. You can subscribe to her newsletter and find out more about her mission to spread place love at her website,

2022 Plenary Presenters


Ted Alexander


Tuesday | 4:30

Ted Alexander is currently the Director of the Western Regional Office of Preservation North Carolina, covering 37 counties. He is a current member of the North Carolina Senate, representing District 44 (Cleveland and Lincoln Counties , and two precincts of Gaston County). 


Mr. Alexander has over 40 years of experience in historic preservation and downtown revitalization. He is the recipient of the Robert E. Stipe Professional Award from Preservation North Carolina. Ted was the first Executive Director for Bedford Main Street, Inc. in Bedford, VA and served as the statewide coordinator for the Virginia Main Street program.


In NC, Ted served for nearly 14 years as Executive Director of Uptown Shelby Association, Inc. and served as Mayor of Shelby for two terms. He continues to be involved and is currently Treasurer of the Historic Shelby Foundation.

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Denise Ryan


Tuesday | 5:00

Denise Ryan helps light the fires of enthusiasm, so people can do great things. She is an author, MBA and a CSP (Certified Speaking Professional), a designation of excellence that is held by less than 10% of professional speakers.  


Her clients include Wells Fargo, Hilton Hotels, IBM, and the US Department of Homeland Security. She has spoken for economic development organizations across the US as well as for NC Main Street!


She made Meeting & Convention Magazine’s list of planners’ favorite speakers alongside Bill Clinton, Condoleezza Rice, and Anderson Cooper and has one of the highest rates of repeat and referral business in the speaking industry.

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Fay Horwitt


Wednesday | 9:45

Fay Horwitt serves as the President & CEO of Forward Cities, where she oversees organizational and programmatic strategy and serves as the executive lead of the ESHIP Communities initiative.


She specializes in the development of collaborative and capital frameworks to catalyze more equitable entrepreneurial ecosystems. Fay is a sought-after presenter, trainer, and thought leader on the topic of ecosystem building.


She has also begun addressing a emergent need in cities across the country: ecosystem healing–an approach designed to help communities address the dual pandemic of COVID-19 and heightened systemic racism - guiding entrepreneurial support organizations and leaders as they seek to support and equitably serve entrepreneurs during these uncertain times.

Tuesday: March 8, 2022

10:00 - 11:15

Downtown Toolkit Sessions


Are You Prepared?

Economic Recovery & Resiliency Strategies


If something good has come out of the pandemic, it is that we gained a better understanding of the importance of being prepared when disaster strikes. Economic downturns can be caused by crises of all sorts, but if we have strategies to recover quickly and be more resilient in the future, then small businesses and communities may be able to minimize or avoid detrimental effects. Darren Rhodes and Lee Padrick, both with the NC Main Street & Rural Planning Center, will present successful strategies that small towns are using to be better prepared for future economic disruptions. 


Lee Padrick

Chief Economic Development Planner & Northeast Prosperity Zone Planner

NC Main Street & Rural Planning Center


Darren Rhodes

Rural Planning Program Manager & Piedmont Triad Prosperity Zone Planner

NC Main Street & Rural Planning Center


Tune Up Your Board (Board Members Only)



Main Street organizations play an essential role in the community economic development process. Without fine tuning, boards can become complacent at times, possibly forgetting that they are the oil that keeps the engine burning. A healthy board is essential to a successful Main Street program. This session offers Main Street board members 10 tips for improving their organizations, eliminating volunteer burnout, telling the downtown story better, and igniting communities.


Sherry Adams

Coordinator, Downtown Programming and Technical Assistance

NC Main Street & Rural Planning Center


Amy Suggs

Southeast Prosperity Zone Planner

NC Main Street & Rural Planning Center



What Does It Mean to Be a Quasi-Public-Private Main Street Program?


A number of North Carolina Main Street programs have transitioned from a sole nonprofit corporation or city department into a quasi-public-private Main Street program in the last few years. For many, this has been a very smooth transition. For others, not so much. This session will outline the pros and cons of a quasi-public-private structure, including why structures change; who directs the staff; what documentation is needed; how the strategic plan is implemented; and where the program is housed.


Liz Parham


NC Main Street & Rural Planning Center

Charles Halsall

Coordinator, Downtown Programming and Technical Assistance

NC Main Street & Rural Planning Center



Connect to Funding with the Rural Economic Development Division


Improvements to downtown districts and rural communities typically require money, and those with more capacity to write and administer grants often have a better chance of acquiring available funds. This session is intended to help level the playing field by connecting attendees with state and federal funding available through the N.C. Department of Commerce, Rural Economic Development Division (REDD). REDD staff will review the grant programs they manage; identify who is eligible to apply for funding; explain what to do or have in place before applying; provide basic best practices for preparing grant applications; and discuss ways to build community capacity for grant writing and administration. Spend some time getting to know how REDD could be a funding partner for economic development projects in your community.


Karen Smith, AICP

Coordinator, Rural Solutions

NC Main Street & Rural Planning Center

Rural Economic Development Division

NC Department of Commerce

Hazel Edmond

Rural Engagement and Investment Director

Rural Grants

Rural Economic Development Division

NC Department of Commerce

Valerie Fegans

Interim Director

Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program

Rural Economic Development Division

NC Department of Commerce

David McRae

ARC Grants Specialist

Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC)

Rural Economic Development Division

NC Department of Commerce



Is Your Downtown Economic Development Ready?


Main Street directors are economic developers seeking to bring investment to their downtowns. To attract commercial investors, you must speak their language. This session positions Main Street directors to be prepared for that economic development role. Attendees will learn the keys to making their downtowns economic development ready, understand common commercial real estate terms, and hear from one of the most prominent and successful North Carolina downtown developers.


Mike Dougherty

Downtown Development Specialist

NC Main Street & Rural Planning Center


Gene Rees, Owner

F. Rees Clothing and R & L Construction



Social Districts: A New Way to Get Social Downtown


In September 2021, the North Carolina General Assembly passed changes to the state ABC laws that allow cities and towns to designate “social districts” within their corporate limits. A social district, in short, allows for off-premises consumption of beer, wine, and alcohol within the district. Would designating a social district benefit your downtown? What are the requirements? What are the limitations? What are the potential problems? These questions and others will be explored and discussed during the session.


Jason Epley, AICP

Executive Director

NC Downtown Development Association


Ray Gibbs, PLA, Principal

Gibbs Urban Advisors, PLLC

11:15 - 1:00

Time with Exhibitors





Tradeshow Virtual Booth:

Conference week is a crucial time to learn about products and services that may help with your downtown revitalization and community development efforts.  Please be sure to visit each exhibitor during the conference.  Our line up of exhibitors will be waiting for you in their virtual booth.  Check out their profiles and build a list of resources to contact in the upcoming year!

1:00 - 2:15

Break-Out Sessions



Bee an Urban Agriculturist


The pandemic brought an increased interest in where our food comes from, expanded local food offerings, and grew awareness of nature all around us, even in our downtowns. Urban agriculture, or the growing, processing, and distributing of food in our downtown districts, is an opportunity for communities both large and small. Entrepreneurs throughout the state are exploring urban beekeeping and the number of community gardens is expanding, but what about vertical farms and hydroponic greenhouses? Local markets and small processing facilities can also be considered for downtown areas. What is needed to develop these opportunities? Discover how to bring nature and agriculture to your downto