Revisit Your Community’s Unique Assets

MSA LogoThe National Main Street Center publishes a Main Street Story of the Week each week. These articles share information, tips and advice from experts around the country. In one of the recently posted articles “Revisit Your Community’s Unique Assets: Connecting Asset-Based Economic Development to Community Transformation Strategies,” the author discusses leveraging unique, local assets to achieve economic revitalization. The article also provides tips on conducting your own asset inventory and using those to shape your strategies moving forward.

Check out the center’s website for more articles and information that you may find helpful.


Give your local artists the business tools for success

When we talk about entrepreneurship, so often artists can be left out of the conversation. The Staunton Creative Community Fund (Staunton Fund) has been examining entrepreneurship through the lens of artists. Wrapping up the spring with a Bach n’ Roll Roundtable, the Staunton Fund brought together stakeholders to talk about needs and ideas for growing the local artist community.

As a result, this summer, the Staunton Fund is expanding their offerings for artist entrepreneurs by partnering with the 2nd Annual Virginia Street Art Festival to offer a smART Marketing Workshop on Aug. 27 in Waynesboro. This workshop will cover topics such as developing a digital presence, defining your target market, developing partnerships and community resources in the area. This class will allow the Staunton Fund to gain some perspective on how to support artists and creatives in the community. Following the workshop, the 2nd Annual Virginia Street Arts Festival will be in full swing for the entire afternoon and evening, featuring live music from local musicians, painters creating their vision on a 100-foot by 20-foot wall, food trucks, children activities and more.

Share this opportunity with your local artisans!

Street Arts Festival_smART Marketing_event photo

Homegrown Hospitality Development in Downtown St. Paul

In early July 2016, ground was broken in downtown St. Paul for a long-awaited $7.3 million boutique hotel that will be called the Western Front Hotel.  This project is a result of the hard work and drive of local leaders to take revitalization of downtown St. Paul into their own hands, embracing a community-initiated development approach to create real change to the economy based on local and regional assets, such as the architecture and surrounding natural landscape.

A member of the development team, Kimberly Christner, president of Cornerstone Hospitality, said the heart and determination that her company saw in the people of St. Paul drew them to the little town between the Clinch River and the Spearhead Trail.

“There are a ton of things happening there [St. Paul], but what really sold us were the people,” Christner said. “St. Paul was willing to help us in the process of getting this done and they are really forward-thinking. The town and the people are all on the same page, they were even ahead of our thought process for this project.”

Rendering of the renovated Western Front Hotel in St. Paul, VA

Rendering of the renovated Western Front Hotel in St. Paul, VA

The hotel is an adaptive-reuse of the historic Willis and Dye buildings, a former mixed-use commercial building with 22 apartments and six store fronts. Once finished, the hotel will have 33 rooms, a restaurant, rooftop bar and dining and outdoor entertainment spaces.  The hotel opening is projected for April 2017.

St. Paul is a Virginia Main Street community designated in 2011.  Embracing the Main Street Approach to revitalize downtown is just part of the plan to enhance the area with additional development, create great spaces and provide an environment in which sustainable growth can occur.

Three Steps to Refresh Your Main Street Strategies for Visible Results

How can your local Main Street program better use limited resources to create vibrant, people-centered places?

The Main Street Approach has been a successful model for NMSC06_WEBBANNER_F_APPROACHolder commercial district revitalization for more than 35 years and is used to revitalize and manage downtowns in more than 2,000 communities across the U.S.  The Four Point approach offers a simple guide to comprehensively address a complex and sometimes chaotic downtown environment.  While that is true, it is a challenge to get the equation just right to catalyze reinvestment, create jobs and create a better quality of life, and especially to do it just right.

Throughout the past few years, the National Main Street Center has conducted surveys, convened a task force of experts and engaged closely with the Main Street network to develop a revised framework.  This revision, called the Four Point Refresh, is the same approach, just sharpened, made more strategic and with a focus on visible results.

  1. Identify the Community Vision for Success – This essential step provides a foundation for outlining the community’s own identity, expectations and ideals, while building off of market opportunities.
  2. Create Community Transformation Strategies – Work together to identify strategies that provide a clear sense of priorities and direction.  These strategies align with the four key areas: economic vitality, effective promotion, quality design and a sustainable organization.  Typically communities will find two to three strategies to help reach a community vision.
  3. Implement and Measure – To succeed, the effort must be able to demonstrate the wise use of resources, which translates to real change on the ground: new jobs added to Main Street, new businesses open, buildings redeveloped and certainly other metrics of success.

Find out more about how to make your local revitalization efforts better, stronger and faster by coming to the next Virginia Main Street training. VMS offers trainings throughout the year, and there is sure to be one near you.


Three Upcoming Opportunities to Rev up Your Downtown Revitalization Efforts

Is your downtown ready for new businesses and residential investment?

Open Late - Fredericksburg, VA

Open Late in Fredericksburg, VA

In order to meet new challenges and ensure a strong Main Street, communities need ongoing training.  Whether the community is just getting started with Main Street activities or well-seasoned in managing a prosperous commercial district, staff and volunteers need different skills in different phases of the downtown revitalization process.  All in all, to keep attracting downtown investment, local leaders should stay current on impactful revitalization techniques and issues that affect traditional commercial districts.

Continue local program volunteer and staff development in the Main Street Approach by attending training as provided by Virginia Main Street, the National Main Street Center and other statewide partners.

Here are three upcoming opportunities in 2016:

Oct. 16-17:  Preservation Virginia Conference, Charlottesville, VA

Nov. 1, 3, and 4: Virginia Main Street Regional Rev Ups, Wytheville, Culpeper and Farmville, VA

Nov. 13-15: VA-1 Tourism Summit, Roanoke, VA

Tips for a Wonderful Experience at Downtown Intersections, Staunton, Virginia

Guest Blogger Julie Markowitz, director of Staunton Downtown Development Association, started with Main Street in 2006, armed with 10 years of experience in mall marketing and promotions. Staunton Downtown Development Association is delighted to host the first inaugural Virginia Main Street Downtown Intersections workshop in Staunton, Virginia on July 11-13, 2016.


Welcome to Staunton, Main Street friends! I am so excited to have all of you here in our fair city. I hope you get a chance to enjoy shopping, grab a locally-brewed beer or a glass of wine or experience one of Monday’s field sessions, so you can enjoy all of the new businesses and cultural happenings that Staunton has to offer.

We tried to select some activities that will give you a chance to relax, wander aournd and get acclimated before the event begins.  Like most Main streets, Mondays are quiet, but there is still plenty to do in and around downtown. If you want to grab lunch or dinner on Monday, here are some options:

  • American Café (lunch only)
  • Baja Bean Company
  • Bricks Restaurant and Pub (dinner only)
  • Byers Street Bistro
  • Cranberry’s Grocery and Eatery (lunch only)
  • Clocktower Restaurant and Bar
  • Depot Grille, Mill Street Grill (dinner only)
  • Sorrell’s Lounge at the Stonewall Jackson Hotel
  • The Split Banana for locally-sourced gelato

There are several different areas for shopping and site seeing within our downtown.  You can start by checking out the train station, then climb the stairs to the Sears Hill Bridge for the best view of downtown.  After the view, wind your way down to the Wharf and the Byers and Lewis Streets shops, where you will find Sunspots Studios and Glassblowing. Walk a short block past Wilderness Adventure to the Lewis Creek Market, then double-back to Pufferbellies Toys and Books and the shops on Beverley Street. End your stroll by heading up Augusta Street to visit LTD 7, a unique, cooperative gift store.

You will get your exercise and along the way, you will find charming shops and restaurants, beautiful views and friendly people. I hope you enjoy your visit to Staunton!

Get the complete list of stores and a handy map here.


Pulaski highlights “The Way We Worked” Smithsonian Exhibit

The Smithsonian Traveling Exhibit Service program, Museums on Main Street, brings exhibits to small towns across America. The most recent exhibit, “The Way We Worked,” showcases various working environments of American citizens, within the United States. This exhibit highlights the journey, struggle and triumph of the American workforce. One of Virginia Main Street’s Commercial Districtway we worked Affiliate partners, the town of Pulaski, currently  has the exhibit at The Raymond F. Ratcliffe Transportation Museum through Aug. 15, and then it will travel to the Virginia Main Street designated community of Wytheville. Having a traveling exhibit in your community is a great way to bring “pop-up” vibrancy to a space, provide local citizens with Smithsonian-quality cultural heritage displays and get your community talking about its own stories.


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