Course Descriptions

Online Course Catalog

With the majority of courses held online, MSAI offers a flexible learning environment that is
convenient for busy, working professionals.


Convenient, Accessible Learning

The Main Street America Institute provides participants with a unique, dynamic online environment to explore preservation-based revitalization topics and develop advanced skills that are essential for leading results-oriented organizations addressing the needs of historic downtowns and commercial districts.

Presented in a live, virtual format, our Advanced Principles Courses offer Main Street professionals a thorough overview of key subject areas essential to facilitating preservation-based community revitalization though the Main Street Approach. Available On-Demand, our Topics Courses take a deep dive into specific sub-areas of the Main Street Approach, focusing on current trends and best practices, and expanding on concepts presented in Advanced Principles courses.

Ready to take your Main Street leadership skills to the next level?
Check out and register for our Advanced Principles and Topics Courses today!

The Details

Format: We offer our online courses in two formats: scheduled live sessions and On-Demand recordings.

Scheduled live courses consist of three online sessions – one per week for three weeks – at one hour and thirty minutes each. For your convenience, each session is recorded so that registrants who are unable to attend live will be able to view the replay starting 48 hours after the course date.

On-Demand courses are pre-recorded and consist of three, ninety-minute sessions. Upon registration, participants can access the course materials and watch the recordings at their convenience.
Pricing: $275 Member | $350 Non-Member
Please note: You must include your Member ID when you set up your account to receive member pricing.
Registration: Registration is required for all courses. To register for a specific course, click the “Register” button included in the listing. To browse our entire course library, visit

Eligibility & Requirements: MSAI is flexible, allowing participants to take courses and to begin the MSARP program requirements at any time. There are no prerequisites and the courses can be completed in any order!

Certification: For those pursuing an MSARP certificate or receiving AICP certification maintenance credit, participants must complete an assignment or exam for each week of the course.

Learn More: For more information about the curriculum, course structure, certificate programs, and more, visit

Advanced Principles Courses

Advanced Principles Courses are three-week, live online courses that offer a thorough overview of the subject area relative to its implementation as an essential element of the Main Street Approach. Each Advanced Principles course is a requirement for the Main Street America Revitalization Professional credential path. Participants are highly encouraged to attend sessions live to participate in discussion with instructors and complete coursework each week. Session recordings are available for those who are unable to attend a live session. Each week features 1.5-hour online program with pre-readings, assignments or quizzes, and interaction with peers.

Scroll to browse the courses or use the quick links below to jump to a specific course.

Advanced Principles of Sustainable Organization
Advanced Principles of Quality Design
Advanced Principles of Economic Vitality
Advanced Principles of Effective Promotion
Advanced Principles of Leadership Development
Advanced Principles of
Sustainable Organization

2024 Course Dates: Coming Soon!

Building a healthy organizational foundation is key to attracting engagement and investment for your commercial district revitalization efforts. Whether you are positioned in a long-standing program or starting anew, Advanced Principles of Sustainable Organization will give you tools in three key areas to strengthen your organization. In this course, you will learn to:

  • Define and share your organization’s message with key stakeholder to expand your reach.
  • Foster active community engagement through a solid volunteer development program.
  • Understand how to develop a diverse funding structure and alignment of resources.

Advanced Principles of
Quality Design

2024 Course Dates: Coming Soon!

Engaging, effective design improves the district’s physical elements while preserving unique character and enhances a sense of place for all those who live, work, or visit. From the basics of downtown design to comprehensive planning, join Advanced Principles of Quality Design to learn:

  • The role and value of design and historic preservation in commercial district revitalization.
  • Best practices in planning and enhancing the look and feel of the district.
  • Assembling resources and innovative incentives to support your efforts.

Advanced Principles of
Economic Vitality

2024 Course Dates: Coming Soon!

How can your organization best position your commercial district program to catalyze the local economy? Let us show you the way! Join Advanced Principles of Economic Vitality for the key tools to strengthen and diversify the local economic base. This three-week course will build your skills to:

  • Engage and work with existing stakeholders to lay strong foundations for economic vitality.
  • Develop business retention, expansion and succession initiatives throughout the district.
  • Identify opportunities for strategic use of space for business and real estate development.

Advanced Principles of
Effective Promotion

2024 Course Dates: Coming Soon!

Effective downtown promotions are much more than memorable events. Commercial district revitalization professionals need an ever-growing toolbox of marketing solutions. In Advanced Principles of Effective Promotion, gain the strategic insights to position your commercial district as the center of community activity, culture and local commerce. Join the course to:

  • Identify and package the district’s unique position in the marketplace.
  • Market your district’s assets and engage the community as stakeholders in your brand.
  • Understand and communicate the role of events and their impact in revitalization.

Advanced Principles of Leadership Development
2024 Course Dates: Coming Soon!

Effective leaders demonstrate a great ability to influence people towards a common goal. For commercial district revitalization professionals, this means bringing diverse stakeholders together in the pursuit of community transformation. Elevate your focus and skill set as a revitalization leader through Advanced Principles of Leadership Development. In this three-week course, you will learn to:

  • Understand the distinction between leadership and management and their important application in community-driven revitalization.
  • Recognize the value of strategy and your role in defining strategic direction for your organization.
  • Integrate strategy in your organizational structure to leverage resources, including people and build proactive partnerships to achieve measurable results.


Topics Courses

Topics Courses take a deep dive into a specific sub-area of the Main Street Approach, focusing on current trends and best practices and expanding on ideas presented in Advanced Principles courses. These OnDemand online programs allow flexibility for participants and choice of coursework to meet specific needs. Each course includes three, 1.5-hour webinars supplemented with readings, case studies, and quizzes.

Scroll to browse the courses or use the quick links below to jump to a specific course.
Getting Retail Ready
Available On-Demand | Register Anytime!
Topic Area: Economic Vitality

A strong retail tenant mix is at the heart of a thriving commercial district. For commercial district practitioners, a clear strategy is essential to improve the retail concentration of districts and influence decision making processes of business and property owners.

In Getting Retail Ready, assess your district’s retail readiness and lay the groundwork for your tenant attraction plan. In this course, you will learn to:
  • Diagnose district readiness for a retail attraction campaign and identify opportunities.
  • Mobilize your district vision in cooperation with business and property owners.
  • Celebrate success and evaluate your strategy.
Getting Retail Ready is a three-part, on-demand course taught by Larisa Ortiz, an expert in commercial district retail strategies who has worked in over one hundred communities, both nationally and internationally.


Promoting the Local Economy
Available On-Demand | Register Anytime!
Topic Areas: Effective Promotion, Economic Vitality

At the heart of a thriving Main Street economy, independent businesses look to their commercial district programs for resources and support to attract and retain customers. Orchestrating a successful “shop local” campaign requires a vision and plan, as well as a boots-on-the-ground mentality to bring people together around it. In Promoting the Local Economy, learn how you can orchestrate a thriving shop local environment every day. You will learn to:
  • Champion the power of the local economy through national trends and utilize local-level data to bring the message home.
  • Organize your district’s strategy for participating in national-level and grassroots shop local campaigns.
  • Work with businesses and entrepreneurs in your community to implement initiatives and measure success.
Promoting the Local Economy is a three-part, on-demand course instructed by Elissa Sangalli Hillary, President of Local First, a Grand Rapids, Michigan – based leader in the movement to create and sustain local wealth.


Strong Leadership Teams
Available On-Demand | Register Anytime!
Topic Areas: Sustainable Organization, Leadership Development

For the leadership of a revitalization entity, one of the most important relationships for the success of the organization is between the board of directors and the executive director or Main Street manager. From a successful onboarding process to the ability to build positive communication lines, every executive director needs skills to work effectively with board members while simultaneously helping them define and implement strategic direction and oversight. In the three-part online course Strong Leadership Teams, join the Main street America’s Director of Leadership Development Norma Ramirez de Miess to:
  • Utilize the Main Street Approach to highlight essential board roles and responsibilities in leading revitalization.
  • Build a solid leadership base through appropriate onboarding, continued development, and confirmed stewardship.
  • Develop a strong foundation for clear and positive communication -internally and externally-, and explore tools to address difficult situations.


Funding Revitalization Programs
Available On-Demand | Register Anytime!
Topic Areas: Sustainable Organization, Leadership Development

An essential piece of building a successful Main Street program or neighborhood commercial district entity is a robust, sustainable funding structure. From developing your prospects to making the approach and planning for growth, you need a solid understanding of the tools and best practices at your disposal. In Funding Revitalization Programs, take a deep dive into these methods to ensure sustainability for your program to:
  • Understand the structures you should have in place to develop funding sources.
  • Identify, target, and acquire funding through various sources.
  • Manage funding sources to ensure programmatic sustainability.
Funding Revitalization Programs is taught by Donna Ann Harris, principal of Heritage Consulting, Inc., a consultant with over 20 years of experience in education, government, and non-profit programs.


Commercial District Planning
Available On-Demand | Register Anytime!
Topic Areas: Quality Design, Economic Vitality

A good downtown or neighborhood commercial district plan can empower Main Street professionals to be intentional in how they approach design issues, from physical improvements to preservation and infill development. Initiating or participating in a planning process requires an understanding of the process, from leveraging resources and engaging stakeholders to aligning implementation steps with the Main Street Approach. Participating in Commercial District Planning, you will learn to:
  • Advocate for your Main Street district’s needs as part of a comprehensive or commercial district planning process.
  • Participate in the planning process as a commercial district professional through a solid understanding of terminology, timelines, and key players.
  • Engage and work with municipal and community stakeholders to implement the plan and establish ongoing support.
Commercial District Planning is a three-part, on-demand course instructed by Nicholas Kalogeresis, a planning professional with over 25 years’ experience in planning for traditional commercial districts.


About MSAI

Download a one-page overview of our targeted professional development training program aimed to equip downtown and commercial district leaders with the tools they need to lead results-oriented and preservation-based community revitalization organizations.


Focus Areas

The MSAI is comprised of two distinct certificate programs – the Leadership Development Certificate program and the Community Transformation Certificate program. Expand your capabilities and begin on your professional development journey today!



Did you know? Coursework can be completed at your own pace, from almost anywhere. Check out detailed information on eligibility, registration, requirements, pricing and payment. Still have questions? Reach out to us at