Hello from Milwaukee: Main Street Now Conference this week


Beginning May 23-25, Virginia Main Street (VMS) staff and more than 25 staff and volunteers from the VMS designated communities are in downtown Milwaukee for Main Street Now, the National Main Street Center conference. Main Street Now is the largest nationwide gathering of commercial district revitalization professionals and community leaders in the nation. This year, the conference will bring together more than 1,500 dedicated professionals, boards, municipal staff and other key decision makers from small towns, mid-sized cities and urban neighborhood commercial districts.

The Virginia delegation is excited to bring back new ideas and solutions for asset-based revitalization, including building local business leaders, creative place-making and new trends in retail planning and development. Check out the sessions offered, and get inspired for the 2017 conference.  The location is still a secret, but word is it will be easy driving distance from Virginia!

To feed the anticipation, follow the conference excitement on Facebook.

Small business training resource

Noon Knowledge series being recorded via Live Stream

Noon Knowledge series being recorded via LiveStream

Sometimes our downtown business owners are busy minding their shop and cannot attend in-person training. Sometimes they have just an hour during lunch break to take advantage of a short class. Knowing these challenges, the Virginia Highlands Small Business Incubator has teamed up with the Virginia Department of Small Business and Supplier Diversity (SBSD) and Washington County Virginia Chamber of Commerce to create the “Noon Knowledge” professional development series.

Each week classes are taught by regional experts on a variety of business-related topics ranging from marketing, business management, technology and more during the noon lunch hour. Sandy Ratliff, business services manager with SBSD, also uses the LiveStream service and the new Facebook Live feature to allow participants that cannot attend in-person to watch live via their own computer, tablet or smartphone. There is also an archive of the videos on the Noon Knowledge YouTube channel for viewing by anyone in future, at their convenience. This is an excellent resource for your businesses who may want to catch a specific topic, but do notalways have the time during work hours. For more information about upcoming trainings, visit http://events.vastartup.org.

Building Entrepreneurial Economies (BEE) grant deadline extended to end of May

The application deadline for the 2017 Building Entrepreneurial Economies (BEE) grant program has been extended through May 31, 2016. BEE grants provide resources to small business development organizations, local governments, planning district commissions and other nonprofit organizations that deliver services to entrepreneurs in new and original ways.

Organizations may apply for up to $15,000 for a planning grant and up to $40,000 for an implementation grant. Planning grants allow organizations to assess market demand for services, research innovative means of providing business services and identify resource gaps. Implementation grants will help communities and organizations to implement business development strategies that result in business start-ups, expansions and job creation.

Applications must be submitted in CAMS by 11:59 p.m. on May 31, 2016.


Community-based Inspiration: Jane Jacobs’ 100th Birthday

Jane Jacobs Google Screen Shot 2016-05-04 at 7.17.55 PM

Google Screenshot on Jane Jacobs’ 100th Birthday

Who was that charming lady on the Google search page?

Wednesday, May 4, 2016, marked 100 years since the birth of Jane JacobsJane Jacobs (1916-2006) was an urban writer and activist who championed new, community-based approaches to planning for more than 40 years.  She loved cities and, while she never studied urban planning, Jacobs considered herself a scientist, methodically analyzing what worked in cities and what did not.  Her first book, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, was published in 1961, one of the first critiques of contemporary large-scale urban renewal and read widely by students, professionals and passionate downtown fans.

Jacobs approached cities as ecosystems, championing mixed-use development, bottom-up community planning and local economies. Today her city-loving spirit moves through the National Main Street Network, promoting grassroots, preservation-based revitalization of urban and rural commercial districts, where community, authenticity, diversity and local commerce flourish.

“Cities have the capability of providing something for everybody, only because, and only when, they are created by everybody.” – Jane Jacobs

Go on and search “Jane Jacobs” on the Web, and I bet you will read something to strum your downtown heartstrings.

Seek the Unique and shop Downtown Bristol!

Bristol-Who knew you could support your local businesses from the luxury of your own couch? Don’t let that stop you from shopping in person in one of America’s most charming towns.

Bristol, Tennessee/Virginia has been named ShopOnMain’s most “Charming Town” in America and will now be featured in an upcoming episode of the TV series “Small Town, Big Deal.”  More than 100 cities were part of the competition with more than 20,000 votes cast.

Believe in Bristol Executive Director Christina Blevins is thrilled that Bristol is being recognized nationally.

“Shopping in downtown Bristol is truly blossoming, from antiques to clothing stores and art galleries and so much more, Bristol really has it going on.  Seek the unique!  Believe in Bristol thanks everyone for their support downtown, and we hope to continue with this type of success!  Congratulations downtown Bristol!”

Along with being featured on “Small Town, Big Deal,” Bristol also is featured prominently on ShopOnMain’s website, a new online shopping experience where you can discover local shops all over the country and support local communities.

Congratulate Bristol!


Farmville Downtown Partnership Awards $5000 At SOUP Event

Often times, it doesn’t take a lot of funding to spark community energy. Read about Farmville Downtown Partnership‘s SOUP event and become inspired to host your own similar event. Guest blogger, John Burton, executive director for the Farmville Downtown Partnership, describes how this inaugural event was very successful for the small community.


SOUP presentations held at the Longwood Center for Visual Arts

Good community, good music and good food. These are the ingredients Farmville Downtown Partnership (FDP) brought together at their Inaugural Supporting Outstanding Urban Projects (SOUP) Community Dinner Event on April 1.  SOUP is an event originating in Detroit and designed to engage the community by awarding grant money for the improvement of downtown.  For months before the dinner event,  FDP had been using social media and local service organizations to call for any individual or organization to submit proposals for projects to improve downtown Farmville.

The selection committee was thrilled to find that a total of 20 proposals had been submitted. After making some tough decisions, they were able to agree on the top five that were the most realistic, beneficial to downtown and new or unique ideas. These would be voted on at the dinner event.

Longwood University, which is adjacent to downtown Farmville, agreed to donate a 4:1 match to the event for a total amount of $5,000 to be distrubted.

Several elements came together to make the dinner event go off without a hitch.  Longwood’s Center for the Visual Arts, located in downtown Farmville, provided a perfect location to hold the event, and the current display of local children’s artwork added a special touch. Aramark donated delicious tomato basil soup and chicken gumbo, and a local musician cranked up the amp and kept everyone’s toes tapping.

Farmville SOUP winners

Actual soup was consumed, and the top five proposals were presented and voted on by everyone in attendance. At the end of the night, the grants were awarded. Those included $2,500 for increasing bicycle parking downtown, $1,500 to purchase and paint community-use bistro tables and chairs and $1,000 to build a mobile reading cart.

Thanks to the hard work of everyone involved, the Farmville Downtown Partnership was able to engage the local community, discover new projects for future work plans and connect with new interested volunteers.

Save the Date! Virginia Main Street Downtown Intersections 2016

VMS Downtown Intersections 2016 Save the Date

VMS Downtown Intersections 2016 Save the Date


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 95 other followers