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UrbanMain Snapshots from Across the Country

January 20, 2022 | UrbanMain Snapshots from Across the Country | By Dionne Baux, Vice President of Urban Development & Gustavo Ustariz, Senior Manager of Marketing & Outreach, UrbanMain 
Dionne Baux, Vice President of Urban Development with the Danville, VA delegation in The Hatchery

From offering peer-to-peer learning experiences in Milwaukee and Chicago to hosting e-commerce trainings, 2021 was a busy year for UrbanMain. Check out a sampling of some of the work and initiatives UrbanMain has undertaken in the last year below.

Trainings and Technical Assistance

Small Scale Development work in Charlotte, NC:
The next phase of UrbanMain’s work with the City of Charlotte’s Beatties Ford Road/LaSalle commercial district will be  with the Historic West End Partners, a community-based organization that will work closely with MSA on the ground to implement Main Street programming. UrbanMain also launched a small-scale development training program in partnership with the Incremental Development Alliance (IncDev).

IncDev will be charged with providing project-level technical assistance to build the capacity of emerging and intermediate small real estate developers working in the corridor. UrbanMain will focus on asset mapping/partnership building, board trainings, volunteer recruitment, fundraising, and business recruitment strategies with the identified local entity to complement all community economic development efforts being implemented on the corridors. Partners have been working over the summer to identify the local organization to guide Main Street efforts and identify a host committee to attract and recruit local small-scale developers to participate in IncDev’s training. The training kicked off in November 2021 with IncDev inviting interested participants to learn more about their approach to small-scale development. Additional trainings for selected participants will occur throughout 2022.

Ecommerce training and technical assistance with Square: A series of webinars were delivered in October and November to support small businesses owners in developing their online presence. The webinar topics included: Square solutions and tools to run your business, Accepting payments with Square, and How to setup an ecommerce site. The webinar series was facilitated by Martin Guerrero, Small Business and Community Advocacy at Square Inc. Martin is an e-commerce specialist with nearly 15 years in the website and domain name industry. He has been helping Square sellers broaden their customer base with an online presence centered around e-commerce and digital payment solutions.

Peer-to-peer learning experiences: A delegation from Danville, VA’s River District toured UrbanMain-participating commercial corridors in Milwaukee, WI, and Chicago, IL for peer-to-peer learning and discussions with city partners and commercial corridor managers. In Milwaukee, the visit was hosted by Milwaukee’s King Drive BID and included meetings with the City of Milwaukee’s Commercial Corridor Team lead by Kenneth Little, and Alderwoman Coggs. The group had the unique opportunity to participate in a   site visit to America’s Black Holocaust Museum and Pete’s Fruit Market, both located in the Martin Luther King Jr. Commercial Corridor.
The Chicago portion of the tour included meetings with City of Chicago representatives, philanthropic leaders, and bankers focused on catalyzing neighborhood investment in communities that have previously been left behind.  The group met with James Harbin, Deputy Commissioner of Planning and Development and Travis Moore-Murray, Community Engagement Manager, Office of the Mayor to discuss the City’s INVEST South/West program. A $750 million dollar investment in 10 communities and 12 commercial corridors on Chicago’s South and West sides. The group met with philanthropic leader Jan’Net Defell, Director for the Community Desk Chicago, to learn more about her efforts to unlock access to capital to catalyze neighborhood investment by building the capacity of local black and brown small-scale developers. The team also had the opportunity to meet with Erica King, President of Greenwood Archer Capital. Greenwood Archer Capital is a nonprofit community development financial institution that provides micro small business loans to catalyze small business development throughout Chicago with a targeted focus on entrepreneurs of color. 

The group participated in site visits at The Hatchery, Food & Beverage Incubator, located in Chicago’s Garfield Park Community. The Hatchery is a non-profit incubator dedicated to helping local entrepreneurs build and grow successful businesses.  Finally, the group concluded its tour with a meet-and-greet and tour of one of the designated INVEST South/West Corridors, Chicago Avenue in the Austin community.   Malcolm Crawford, Executive Director of the Austin African American Business Networking Association graciously provided an overview of their great work along the corridor and introduced the team to several new businesses operating on the district. 

New UrbanMain Communities Join the Network

UrbanMain is pleased to welcome the following new members to the network:

Fort Worth, Texas: The UrbanMain program will work with the City of Fort Worth over the next three years to introduce Main Street America’s framework for urban commercial corridor revitalization and explore the creation of a citywide coordinating program. The program kicked off in late September with the UrbanMain team introducing the Main Streets Approach to the City’s Department of Economic Development, other impacted city departments, and community stakeholders. The UrbanMain team will work with the City to facilitate conversations with a group of advisory team members to co-create a Request for Proposal to identify two local community-based organizations in two pre-determined neighborhood commercial corridors as identified by the city. The selected organization will receive initial funding support from the City of Fort Worth to staff the program.   

Once the RFP process wraps up and local organizations are selected to participate in the program, the UrbanMain team will provide the following services to selected organizations over the next couple of years:
  • Main Street 101 Basic Training to the City and selected corridors
  • Community asset mapping, engagement, and partnership building 
  • Board training 
  • Board and community volunteer recruitment & retention
  • Market analysis training utilizing the Main Street Approach
  • Transformation Strategy development in two neighborhood commercial corridors  
  • Program assessment visit utilizing Main Street America’s National Accreditation standards to ensure the local community are meeting MSA’s standards
Michigan’s Oakland County Coordinating program officially launched its work to provide UrbanMain designation to communities that have a desire to get support from the UrbanMain program. UrbanMain provided services to Oakland County’s Pontiac district in 2019. 

“Main Street Pontiac is the first community in Michigan to participate in the national UrbanMain program through Main Street America,” said John Bry, Oakland County’s local business development supervisor and manager of the Main Street Oakland County coordinating program. “Like many urban areas, downtown Pontiac still has major challenges to overcome, including continued funding, bringing consensus with a diverse group of stakeholders, and delivering results with limited organizational capacity. However, a broad plan is in place, and this is the most stability the downtown organization has seen in years—due to all the amazing people that have been involved. And, the $50,000 grant from the Funders Collaborative will help build organizational capacity with the hiring of some full-time staff.”

This newly established relationship expands UrbanMain work with MSOC which includes the cities of Pontiac, Oak Park, and Hazel Park. Each community seeks to adapt the Main Street Approach to fit their needs as urban commercial corridors and become part of the UrbanMain network.