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Main Spotlight: Better Community Planning & Economic Development Series with Ed McMahon

November 3, 2021 | Main Spotlight: Better Community Planning & Economic Development Series with Ed McMahon | 

Earlier this year, Leverage NC, a partnership between North Carolina Main Street and the North Carolina League of Municipalities, hosted a four-part webinar series titled Better Community Planning & Economic Development led by Ed McMahon, Chair Emeritus of Main Street America and a leading national authority on land use policy and economic development.

This series explored small town economic development and quality of life, how the pandemic has affected real estate and land use practices, asset-based economic development, and redeveloping suburbs and aging commercial corridors. While this series was designed for North Carolina cities and towns, the content Ed shares is both evergreen and applicable for Main Street communities across the nation.

Learn more about Leverage NC’s series and hear inspiring words from Ed below:

Part 1: Secrets of Successful Communities

“Successful communities always have a vision for the future. Failing to plan simply means planning to fail”

Every community has its own strengths and weaknesses, but successful communities often share some common characteristics. This webinar examines the “secrets of successful communities,” exploring how some communities are able to maintain their economic vitality and quality of life in a rapidly changing world, while other communities continue to lose jobs, population and their once unique character and identity. Learn about tools and techniques that successful communities use to thrive!


Part 2: How the Pandemic is Affecting Real Estate and Land Use

“For communities, there’s really only two kinds of change: there’s planned change and there’s unplanned change.”

The pandemic is transforming how and where Americans live, work, shop, and move around. But, as Ed points out in this important conversation, most of these changes were occurring before the pandemic began and have only been accelerated by it. As many of these changes will continue after the pandemic has ended, it is essential that Main Street stakeholders understand these changes, the impact they are currently having on real estate and land use, and what these trends mean for the future of our work.


Part 3: Asset Based Economic Development

“Small really does matter: small steps, small businesses, small deals, and small developments can add up to a big impact.”

Today, successful economic development is more about what a community has, rather than what it doesn’t have. This webinar examines how the economic development paradigm is changing. Industrial recruitment, for example, is still important, but today, growing existing businesses is even more important. Ed also outlines the role “place” plays in economic development and provides examples of how communities are investing in and enhancing “quality of place” to foster new jobs and investment.


Part 4: Redeveloping Suburbs and Commercial Corridors

“Many suburbs are building in more compact, walkable, mixed use ways and these suburbs are outperforming the drive everywhere for everything suburbs.”

The suburbs are changing, and the old approaches to suburban development no longer work. Between an undersupply of multi-family housing, small lot housing, and mixed-use development and the migration to suburbs and smaller cities, it is imperative that Main Street professionals find new ways to revitalize aging suburbs, dead malls, and cluttered commercial strips. In this workshop, Ed explores the tools and techniques that communities are using to do just that.


Thank you to Leverage NC for organizing these great workshops! Hear more from Ed McMahon here.