Main Spotlight: Convening in a City of Main Streets: A Preview of the 2023 Main Street Now Conference Sessions

November 29, 2022 | Main Spotlight: Convening in a City of Main Streets: A Preview of the 2023 Main Street Now Conference Sessions |
Faneuil Hall Quincy Market. Courtesy of iStock.

We can’t wait to join you in Boston, Massachusetts, for the 2023 Main Street Now Conference, from March 27-29, for this convening of commercial district revitalization leaders from across the country in this city of Main Street! Along with our partners at the City of Boston’s Office of Economic Opportunity & Inclusion and Boston Main Streets, we look forward to providing three days of dynamic educational sessions, invigorating keynote discussions, and immersive mobile workshops. From time-tested Main Street Approach techniques to strengthen downtowns and commercial districts to timely topics related to our three conference themes—Community Wealth Building & Shared Prosperity, Resilient & Future-focused Main Streets, and Building Community Connections—this year’s session agenda is bursting with opportunity. Keep reading for a peek at select sessions and stay tuned for the full agenda preview launching when registration opens in early December.

Resilient & Future-focused Main Streets

Left: Birch Street Plaza creates opportunities for residents to gather and patronize businesses. Courtesy of Roslindale Village Main Street. Right: The renovated Mission Hill Playground reopened in August 2022 and provides healthy active recreation for kids of all ages. Courtesy of Mission Hill Main Streets.

15-Minute Neighborhoods: A more Sustainable, Connected, Resilient Main Street
Cities and towns around the world are grappling with multiple crises around transportation, housing, growing inequality, struggling small business communities, and a fraying social fabric. Could Main Street offer a solution? We'll explore how investments in housing and public space can give a new lease on life to main street. We’ll utilize a planning concept known as the “15-Minute Neighborhood,” which aims to build vibrant, mixed-use neighborhoods where all residents can reach daily needs within a 15-minute walk, as the lens through which we’ll learn what main street districts and communities can do to build 15-minute neighborhoods of the future. Hear from Jonathan Berk, Vice President, Patronicity; Anne Calef, Policy Analyst, Boston Indicators; and Richard Amore, Planning & Outreach Manager, Vermont Department of Housing and Community Development.

Welcome to the Playground: Childcare Solutions on Main
Main Streets and downtowns in Washington State, from the smallest communities to urban centers, are joining the table to develop childcare solutions in our communities. This session will explore how Main Street organizations, developers, and community partners in Washington are working together to solve the childcare crisis, and why you need to be in the playground too. Speakers: Kathryn Witherington, Executive Director, Downtown Walla Walla Foundation; and Breanne Durham, Director, Washington Main Street.

Building Community Connections

Left: Mural celebrating community in Upham's Corner in Dorchester. Courtesy of Jessica Mading. Right: Vibrant and unique signs promote locally-owned small businesses on Washington Street in Brighton. Courtesy of Brighton Main Streets.

Racial Equity Exercise: The Dignity Activity
Attendees will learn about the Dignity Activity - a workshop that addresses the conditions of structural racism. Ginger Brown, Executive Director, JP Centre/South Main Streets (Boston, MA) will show how they used the Dignity Activity to build community connections across three Main Streets districts in Boston, and develop a network of support for addressing and facilitating racial equity and justice. Attendees will come away with a clear understanding of how they can implement activities like this in their own community, and the benefits that it can have.

The Dollar Store Deluge
Twenty years ago, dollar store was a mere blip on the economic landscape. Now, there are more chain dollar stores in the US than McDonalds, Starbucks, Target, and Walmart combined - and they are coming for your main street district. Dollar stores pose a direct threat to local grocery stores, but they also grab sales from clothing, hardware, automotive, toy, and other store categories, putting these retailers at risk of failing. Now, communities are pushing back. This session explores the challenges that dollar stores present and outlines tactics for strengthening land use policies, and other tactics, to keep them at bay. Hear from Kennedy Smith, Senior Researcher, Institute for Local Self-Reliance; and Stacy Mitchell, Co-Director, Institute for Local Self-Reliance.

Community Wealth Building & Shared Prosperity

Left: Boston Mayor, Michelle Wu, presides over the ribbon-cutting and grand opening for Park 54 Restaurant & Lounge on June 17, 2022. Courtesy of Hyde Park Main Streets. Right: Sugar Baking Company hands out brambles at the Celebrate Centre event in honor of their inaugural National Bramble Day. Courtesy of West Roxbury Main Streets.

Equitable Access to Small Business Support in Lowell
Lowell, Massachusetts is a diverse community with a storied history, a large immigrant population, and tremendous opportunity for businesses to start and grow. In this session, attendees will hear from the Ali Carter (Director of Economic Development, City of Lowell), Allison Lamey (Executive Director, Lowell Development and Financial Corporation), Ani Vong (Small Business Coach, Community Teamwork), and Sophan Smith (Executive Director for Merrimack Valley, Entrepreneurship for All) about how they collaborate to provide technical assistance, grant funding, and loans to entrepreneurs in Lowell. Examples of effective financial incentive programs will help attendees learn about a dynamic system of supports and access to capital for entrepreneurs who are not eligible for traditional bank loans.

Effective Incremental Food Business Ecosystem Support
Over the past ten years, Eastern Market has developed a variety of supports for food business development in Detroit, Michigan. Key programs include low-cost access to market, a network of low-cost, licensed, pay-by-the-hour incubator kitchens, and three forms of food acceleration programs to get makers from pre-development to sales in excess of $1 million. Hear from those who manage shared-use kitchens, operate co-packing facilities, and an entrepreneur that has grown up in the system. This session will give you a step-by-step approach to building a supportive eco-system to grow your Main Street food businesses. Speakers: Dan Carmody, President, Eastern Market Partnership; Christine Quane, Food Hub & Incubation Director, Eastern Market Partnership; Amit Makhecha, Managing Director, FEAST Detroit, LLC; and Jennifer Lyle, Owner, Lush Yummies Pie Co.

Registration for the Main Street Now 2023 will open in early December 2022.
Stay tuned to our channels for more details!