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NC Main Street Conference

March 12-14, 2024  |  Goldsboro, NC

 

The North Carolina Main Street Conference is an annual three-day conference, held within the downtown of a beautiful rural community of NC. The venue changes each year, as do the speakers, sponsors, vendors, tours, and sessions. The conference is open to anyone interested in learning about downtown economic development. Attendees gain knowledge from networking with other downtown enthusiasts, and attending sessions facilitated by a handpicked lineup of notable speakers. 

 Ignite, Activate, and Empower…

Main Street! 

The principles of the Main Street program are designed to create downtown districts that will not only survive, but will also thrive with new activity and flourishing, exceptional uses.  Main Street is economic development that is accomplished through igniting the downtown with high-quality design improvements, activating the district through authentic promotion and locally driven economic vitality, and empowering the people and the community to get involved with sustainable organization.  Collectively, these activities create a rich, distinctive sense of place that is the heart of the community.  

 

Ignite, Activate, and Empower…Main Street, the theme of this year’s conference, is an exploration of the most innovative approaches that communities are taking to accomplish their goals.  From award-winning rehabilitation to memorable public art, downtowns are ignited with high-quality design improvements that energize both local residents and visitors who want to experience a genuine, creative environment.  Through storytelling, pop-up shops, and locally driven marketplaces, districts are activated with fresh new marketing initiatives, events, and businesses that encourage everyone to explore downtown.  And through dedicated leadership and partnerships, people are empowered to invest time and money in their communities that result in positive change. 

North Carolina Main Street programs and their public and private sector partners are creatively leveraging strategic economic development planning, tools, and programs that result in investment, business growth, and job creation.  North Carolina Main Street communities have seen more than $5.2 billion in investment since the inception of the program in 1980, and more than $684 million in investment in fiscal year 2022-2023.  

 

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 maximize downtown and community revitalization at home. 

This milestone event will be held in downtown Goldsboro, North Carolina, as it proudly celebrates 40 years as an exemplary Main Street community.  In that time, Goldsboro has learned the importance of partnerships, preservation, strategic planning, incremental growth, and, most importantly, using the Main Street framework to encourage collaboration with the private sector to advance ideas and involvement.  The result?  A vibrant, pedestrian-driven, art-centric community that is committed to ensuring the heart of Goldsboro is preserved and programmed for all.  

Located in eastern North Carolina, Goldsboro is home to Seymour Johnson Air Force Base.  With its wide sidewalks, walkable public spaces, a beautiful, historic train station, and an F-86 Sabre jet on display, downtown Goldsboro Is a community that is leveraging its assets for economic prosperity and development in the commercial core.  As a result, downtown Goldsboro has realized close to $80 million in public and private investment in the last decade, 187 building rehabilitations, 78 net new businesses, and 430 jobs, with more to come.  Today, downtown Goldsboro is thriving with an influx of diverse small businesses, an engaged community, exhibits of public art, festivals, weddings, and downtown living.  Goldsboro leaders are proud of the city’s history and the investments they are making in its future as a hub for arts, culture, and entrepreneurship, and they look forward to welcoming and sharing their story with you! 

Thought-provoking keynote and plenary addresses and engaging breakout sessions with experienced presenters will inspire you with fresh ideas for downtown.  Bring a group of community leaders, Main Street board members, and volunteers to get the most out of the conference experience.  The North Carolina Main Street Conference offers the most successful implementation strategies for downtown revitalization and redevelopment available in the state, the southeast, and, perhaps, in the nation. 

We will see you in Goldsboro in March! 

Tuesday Schedule

8:00am - 5:30pm | Registration

Location

PARAMOUNT THEATRE
139 S. Center Street

8:30am - 1:30pm | Shop & Explore

Location

Downtown Goldsboro

Downtown Goldsboro

 

Historic, lively and full of economic opportunity, and gusto. Downtown Goldsboro honors its past while developing diversity and vibrancy to create a cultural arts, entertainment, and urban lifestyle center.  We invite you to explore all that downtown Goldsboro has to offer during your time at the NC Main Street Conference!

Dine, Shop,Explore Downtown Goldsboro

8:30am - 9:30am | Downtown Toolkit Sessions

#1

Lighter, Cheaper, Quicker...ACTIVATE Your Public Space

Toolkit Session

The pandemic made us aware of how valuable public space is to our downtown districts. Lighter, Cheaper, Quicker – a term used to ignite outdoor public space with flexible design elements and activate downtown with social activities that attract people of all ages, including families with children, is a Placemaking Initiative that transforms underutilized spaces. Learn the key components of successful lighter, cheaper, quicker projects and gather up a toolkit
of ideas that can easily be implemented in your community.

Presenters: 

Bruce Naegelen, Community Economic Development Planner, NC Main Street & Rural Planning Center 

Charles Halsall, Main Street Specialist, NC Main Street & Rural Planning Center 

Ann Bass, ARC Community Economic Development Planner, NC Rural Planning Center 

Location

FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH
125 S. John Street

#2

Do You Have the Capacity for Grants?

Toolkit Session

Writing grants to leverage Main Street projects is the goal, right?  But grant writing doesn’t start with an application. It starts with building capacity at the local government and non-profit level to plan, research, train, and establish best practices to not only write the grant, but to successfully manage it. This session will offer attendees the ultimate guide to building capacity to bring projects to fruition.   

Presenters: 

Lisa Rueh, Main Street Grants Administrator, NC Main Street & Rural Planning Center  

Carol Kline, Professor, Hospitality & Tourism Management, Appalachian State University 

Location

TERRACE ROOM A
104 S. Center Street

#3

Bracing for Floods on Historic Main Street

Toolkit Session

Storms, floods, and winds increasingly threaten our North Carolina Communities.  And our classic Main Streets and historic districts are in harm's way.  The UNC School of Government, along with the UNC Department of City and Regional Planning and NC State's School of Design, have produced a set of resources to assist communities trying to achieve resilience and preservation.  Supported by the State Historic Preservation Office, this Historic Resilience Project includes a primer on the topic, a guidebook on planning for historic resilience, model design standards for historic resilience, and training for hazard mitigation and recovery in a historic setting.  The session will explore the topic, introduce the resources, and engage participants to discuss how these topics apply in their communities. 

Presenter:

Adam Lovelady, Professor of Public Law and Government, UNC School of Government

Location

GOLDSBORO CITY HALL
200 N. Center Street

#4

20 Ways to Get Started in Downtown Revitalization

Toolkit Session

Are you new to downtown revitalization?  Or do you have an established program that needs a reboot?  This session is designed to offer attendees twenty ways to get started in downtown revitalization.  Learn how to build interest and synergy in the community, while establishing a solid program that will have the capacity to tackle economic development projects and initiatives.  The key to downtown success is having a strong foundation to hold up your program.

 

Presenter: 

Kitty Dougoud, Kentucky Main Street State Coordinator & Historic Preservation Program Manager, Kentucky Heritage Council 

Location

PARAMOUNT THEATRE

139 S. Center Street

#5

Activate Downtown with Rehab Tax Credits

Toolkit Session

Historic Tax Credits (HTC)are the most important tools we have to attract investment and preserve our shared built history in unique downtown districts. Are you prepared to navigate a historic rehab project from start to finish? Do you know the basics of the Secretary of the Interior Standards for Rehabilitation?  And what does that mean for quality rehab projects? Learn the standards, basic terminology, how to use the HTC navigation flowchart, and gain the knowledge to confidently work with the State Historic Preservation Office and local property owners and developers to bring rehab projects to fruition.   

Presenters:

Lizzie Morrison, Community Economic Development Planner,

NC Main Street & Rural Planning Center 

Gene Rees, Developer, F. Rees Company   

Jeff Adolphsen, Senior Restoration Specialist, NC State Historic Preservation Office  

Benjamin Briggs, President & CEO, Preservation NC

Location

ST. STEPHEN’S EPISCOPAL CHURCH
200 N. James Street

9:30am - 10:00am | Time with Exhibitors | Break

EX

Time to Develop Relationships

During conference week, take the time to visit each exhibitor to learn about products and services that can help with downtown revitalization and community development efforts.

Location

PARAMOUNT THEATRE | BIG TENT

139 S. Center Street

10:00am - 11:00am | Downtown Toolkit Sessions

#6

Empowering Strong Leaders

Toolkit Session

Does your board have the tools it needs to make confident decisions, support program staff, advocate for your program, and to be visionary leaders that inspire others in your community? What about your elected officials? Veteran Main Street Directors and board members will participate in a panel discussion to share tips, tricks, and tools that they have used and developed through the years to empower strong leaders in their communities. The result
is more volunteerism, more diverse involvement, more money, and more awareness of the impact of the Main Street program as an economic development organization.

Presenters:

Freddie Killough, Executive Director, Marion Business Association
Tharesa Lee, CEO, Intentional Excellence Consulting
Doug McGrath, Volunteer, Downtown Goldsboro Development Corporation
Kimberly Van Dyke, Planning & Community Revitalization Director & Downtown Development Director, City of Wilson & Wilson Downtown Development Corporation

Location

ST. STEPHEN’S EPISCOPAL CHURCH

200 N. James Street

#7

Money Matters: Funding Sources for Community and Economic Development

Toolkit Session

In the ever-evolving landscape of community and economic development, securing adequate funding is paramount. This session will detail prime funding sources available in North Carolina and on the federal level for implementation of downtown strategic initiatives, including funds through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) (and the newly released ARPA Flex;) Community Development Block Grants (CDBG;) and USDA, as well as opportunities for engaging utility providers and the private sector for maximum impact!   

Presenter:

Jenn Gregory. President, Downtown Strategies Retail Strategies 

Location

FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH

125 S. John Street

#8

Top Ten Tips When Disaster Hits

Toolkit Session

Fire, Floods, Wind, Tornadoes and Hurricanes – Do you know how to prepare for and mitigate disasters to keep them from creating even bigger issues for your community?   Experienced local government and downtown organization representatives will share important tips for actions that communities can take to help prevent disasters from becoming catastrophic.  The audience will hear about lessons learned from Main Street and rural communities and will receive a downtown disaster preparedness tip sheet. Be ready BEFORE a disaster hits!   

Presenters:

Eugene (Gene) Foxworth, Assistant County Manager, Carteret County 

Robert Lewis, Planning Director, City of Whiteville 

Brittany Marlow, Executive Director, Downtown Statesville Development 

Nick Scheuer, Town Manager, Town of Canton 

Location

GOLDSBORO CITY HALL

200 N. Center Street

#9

IGNITE Your Creativity with Canva

Toolkit Session

Almost every marketing piece you need to promote your community and assets can be created in Canva, a graphic design tool that will take the “work” out of your workload.  This session will show you the tips and tricks to create a month's worth of social posts in minutes, visually appealing brochures and flyers, and a print ad that tells your story and attracts visitors downtown.  Attendees will leave feeling confident, empowered, and ready to be creative with Canva.   

Presenter:

Leniece Lane, Owner, Small Town Soul 

Location

TERRACE ROOM B
104 S. Center Street

#10

The Strengths and Straits of Social Districts

Toolkit Session

Social Districts can be a catalyst for economic and community growth, creating an opportunity to build upon your community’s unique assets and vision. In 2022, the N.C. Legislature approved House Bill 211, which clarified the language originally drafted in 2021 to allow social districts in North Carolina. There are now more than 50 social districts in the state, and many additional towns are evaluating the strengths of this economic development tool and the straits of having a designated social district in downtown. This session will share creative placemaking approaches to social districts, the economic impacts of established districts, and lessons learned to help local communities make thoughtful, informed decisions.   

Presenters:

Lizzie Morrison, Community Economic Development Planner,

NC Main Street and Rural Planning Center  

Mike Dougherty, Downtown Development Specialist,

NC Main Street and Rural Planning Center 

Morgan Vasquez, Executive Director, Mount Airy Downtown Inc.  

Nicole Brantley, Executive Director, Heart of Brevard 

Location

TERRACE ROOM A

104 S. Center Street

11:00am - 1:30pm | Time with Exhibitors | Lunch

EX

Time to Develop Relationships

During conference week, take the time to visit each exhibitor to learn about products and services that can help with downtown revitalization and community development efforts.

Location

PARAMOUNT THEATRE | BIG TENT

139 S. Center Street

1:30pm - 2:45pm | Break-Out Sessions

#1

What It Takes to Attract a Developer

Break-Out Session

You have six vacant buildings.  They total 70,000 square feet.  You know that you need a developer, but are you ready?  To leverage downtown investment, you need a team and the tools in place to bring these projects to fruition.  This is the story of Goldsboro, and how a developer, tax credit investor, a county and city governing board, a downtown director, an inspections department, a planning department, the State Historic Preservation Office, the National Park Service, lenders, the NC General Assembly, and more, worked together to yield a $14 million investment! Now it’s yours turn.  Do you want to learn how to make investment happen in your town?

Presenters:

Patrick Reilly, Rehab Development, Inc. 

Julie Metz, Metz Solutions 

Location

PARAMOUNT THEATRE

139 S. Center Street

#2

Hospitality + Perspective = More Inclusive and Activated Downtowns

Break-Out Session

While downtown areas are meant for everyone, not all experience a sense of inclusion. By examining case studies of downtown master plans, we will explore the necessity of authentic hospitality and perspective to designing and activating more inclusive downtowns. Where does hospitality begin downtown? Whose perspectives are driving actions? What authentic assets does your community have? Who are you Inviting to the table? Ignite, activate, empower is a circular, perpetual commitment to engage people and ensure the purposeful weaving of all four points to encourage exploration, inclusion and investments in downtown. Let’s explore inclusive methods that ignite, activate, and empower downtowns. 

Presenter:

Irene Dumas Tyson, AICP, Associate AIA, Director of Planning, BOUDREAUX 

Location

TERRACE ROOM A

104 S. Center Street

#3

This Is How You Tell Your Story

Break-Out Session

Branding is a powerful tool to tell your community story.  The power lies not only in the stories created, but also in the process of their creation.  The branding process begins with a deep dive to understand the community’s authentic assets, core values, and vision. These components are leveraged into economic development strategies that help a community and its downtown district get noticed by investors, businesses, and local residents and visitors.  Do you know how to tell your community’s story? How do you market your community’s assets? This is a must-attend session for any community that is ready to develop its brand! 

Presenters:

Aaron Arnett, Principal, Arnett Muldrow & Associates 

Shawn Terpack, Art Director, Arnett Muldrow & Associates 

Location

FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH

125 S. John Street

#4

Up & At ‘Em: Engagement Tools for Activating Your Board