Go Like a Pro! Main Street's Professional Development Track in Detroit

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In 1991, without a clue what I was getting into, I attended my first National Town Meeting on Main Street in Biloxi, Mississippi. As a first-time attendee, I found the sessions absolutely amazing—full of new ideas and forward-looking concepts that had the potential to remake the small town in Illinois where I was living then. I haven’t missed a conference since, though when I moved from volunteer to state Main Street coordinator, then to manager of a mid-sized city downtown program, and on to the National Main Street Center as a program officer, my needs and expectations as a conference participant changed.

Whether you’re a seasoned Main Street manager or a recent college graduate aspiring to a downtown revitalization career, this year’s professional development track in Detroit promises to be the best yet. While in a very real sense all the conference content can be viewed as professional development for those working in the field, there has been a deliberate move this year to offer a comprehensive range of sessions focused on professional and organizational management skill-building.

New to the field? Or thinking about a career in Main Street? The introductory overviews of the Four-Point Approach on Sunday are “must haves”—a rare chance to get a full-day, 30,000- foot view of how Main Street works from experts in their subject areas. There are also sessions on how to deal with difficult personalities who have an axe to grind, how to ask for year-end gifts, and how to manage time better—not to mention all those e-mails!

If you’ve been in the field for a number of years and feel you have a good grasp of the basics, then check out sessions on leading an organization through change, developing more effective communication skills, and working more collaboratively with local preservation organizations. Veteran managers are also encouraged to join their colleagues from across the country on Sunday afternoon for an in-depth Managers’ Roundtable focused on identifying issues and group problem solving.

The professional development track, while concentrated in the classroom sessions, also extends to the mobile workshops, where tours like “Midtown Detroit: A Work in Progress” allow professionals to see the Main Street Approach in action in a transition neighborhood with projects ongoing in each phase of the redevelopment process.

When the conference ends this year, you’ll be glad to know you’ve made a significant investment in your own professional growth and development—and future career success.

An overview of the recommended professional development track is listed below. For a full listing and descriptions of the professional development track, please visit the conference website.

Main Street Professional Development Track

Sunday, May 18

Introduction to the Main Street Approach 
• 8:00 AM – 10:00 AM: Overview: Organization
• 10:15 AM – 11:30 AM: Overview: Promotion
• 1:00 PM – 2:15 PM: Overview: Economic Restructuring
• 2:30 PM – 3:45 PM: Overview: Design

Monday, May 19

9:00 AM – 10:15 AM: Classroom Session
Volunteer Driven: Creating a Culture of Volunteerism

10:45 AM – 12:00 PM: Classroom Sessions
Coaching for Results: Your Leadership and Communication Skills
Strategic Planning: Setting Priorities for Work Plans

2:00 PM – 3:15 PM: Classroom Sessions
Getting Started or Just Need a Jump Start?
Leading Through Change

3:45 PM – 4:30 PM: Crash Course
Get It Together: Apps, Tips and Tricks for Better Time Management

Tuesday, May 20

9:00 AM – 10:15 AM: Classroom Sessions
Managing the Axe Grinders
Building a Culture for Strategic Engagement

10:45 AM – 12:00 PM: Classroom Sessions
Preservation & Main Street -- Working Together
Why Aren’t You Asking for Year-End Gifts?

2:00 PM – 2:45 PM: Crash Courses
Tell Your Main Street Story Loud and Clear
So, You're a New Main Street Manager?

3:15 PM – 4:00 PM: Crash Courses
Better Recruitment: Better Boards
Talk it Out: Plans for Communicating Your Main Street Project
Mastering a Social Media Calendar