By Kristi Trevarrow, Executive Director, Downtown Rochester (Michigan); Co-Host, Main Street Nation Radio | From Main Street Story of the Week | April 29, 2016 |
So here’s a not so typical boy-meets-girl story, with a Main Street twist. A little over a year ago, I met with Jeff Sloan, serial entrepreneur and owner of Startup Nation, the preeminent resource for small business owners and entrepreneurs. I had been a guest on his radio show, Startup Nation Radio, and he wanted to pick my brain about a new project that he was working on. He wanted to know how to connect with communities, to create a grass roots level effort. I was, of course, happy to tell him all about Main Street – what it was and how it worked. I could tell he was intrigued, but needed to know more. I suggested that he attend the National Main Streets Conference in Atlanta. And that was the last that I spoke with Jeff…until he arrived in Atlanta that fateful day in March.
I was pleasantly surprised (borderline shocked) that he took my advice and time out of his incredibly busy schedule to come and see what Main Street was all about. I invited him to my session the next day so he could get a small sample of that Main Street enthusiasm for which we are all known. At the end of the session, Jeff pulled me aside and asked if I had access to email while I was at the conference because he needed to send me something. What followed was an amazingly complimentary email, with lots of ideas about downtowns. Long story short, he was drinking the Main Street Kool Aid. More importantly, he understood the importance of the core mission of Main Street and wanted to know what he could do to help. And I was more than happy to assist him in that endeavor.
I came to find out that Jeff had a passion for small towns, and fondly shared stories about going on road trips as a child to downtowns in northern Michigan, which left an indelible, lasting impression on him. In that moment, it became clear that I could ask for no better partner in this venture. In the weeks to follow, we met several times, crafting a plan to get the Main Street message out there and to give it the voice it so richly deserves. And one fateful day, we came to the same conclusion. There was too much content to shoehorn into the Startup Nation platform, it warranted its own brand.
And just like that, Main Street Nation Radio was born, along with a mission statement:
“Main Street Nation Radio is about building awareness of the importance of Main Streets across the nation. The places we do business, places we make memories and places that are living museums of our history. And those places deserve to be preserved, supported, nurtured, managed and celebrated. We will tell stories of community, culture and business, share best practices and create innovative initiatives to sustain our Main Streets for years to come. And we will meet some amazing people along the way. Main Streets exist because they were built by people and they will only succeed if people are inspired to offer their time and talents to create places that they are proud to call home.”
The first official show under the Main Street Nation banner aired in June 2015 on WJR-760 AM Detroit. Response was overwhelmingly positive and we were off to the races. Recent shows have included topics near and dear to every Main Streeters heart including the local food movement, farmers’ markets, branding, events, tourism and everything in between. But that a-ha moment occurred during our December show. Since we are billing ourselves as storytellers, we wanted to share some compelling stories from Main Streets across the country and how they were celebrating the holiday season, each in their own unique way. From the SantaCon in Orlando’s Thornton Park District and the Elfie Selfie Contest in Eureka Springs, Arkansas to the 100 Year Courthouse Lighting Tradition in Minden, Nebraska. The stories were compelling, charming and absolutely captured what Main Street is really all about.
So what’s next for Main Street Nation Radio? We are proud to announce that we are bringing Main Street Nation Radio to Milwaukee for the Main Street Now Conference in May. Join us in the Exhibit Hall on Tuesday, May 24 from 5-6 pm to be a part of the action. We are looking forward to meeting all those amazing people who choose to give their time and talents to Main Street. And we’ll be looking for some fascinating stories future installments of Main Street Nation Radio, too.
What’s the plan long term? Right now, we’re perfecting our craft and creating a body of work that will build a strong case to take Main Street Nation Radio to syndication, expanding our Main Street presence on a national level. We believe in the power of Main Street to transform places, restore the hearts and minds of communities and, in the process, create compelling stories that need to be told. And we will tell those stories, while generating advocacy and support for downtowns, business districts and Main Streets across the country.
Want to be a part of the Main Street Nation Radio story? Check us out at mainstreetnation.com
or join the Main Street Nation conversation on Facebook
. We’re always sharing best practices, tips and tricks for directors and, of course, telling stories of good people doing great things in towns across the nation. We believe that Main Street isn’t just important, it’s essential and we’re dedicated to getting it the attention and recognition that it so richly deserves.
Kristi Trevarrow is the Executive Director of the Rochester Downtown Development Authority (DDA), a Great American Main Street award-winning community. She has over 19 years of experience in downtown development and destination marketing. Ms. Trevarrow also serves as co-host of Main Street Nation Radio, a monthly radio show dedicated to telling the success stories of downtowns across the nation.