Practical, Low-cost Ideas to Make Your Downtown A Destination

What can your Main Street program do to make downtown more of a destination for locals and visitors?

Would a punch list of key actions be helpful?  With today’s market, Main Street communities are happily positioned for a resurgence.  As a Main Street advocate, having a plan to ride that wave and make your downtown the best and brightest means nailing down the best strategy and the right activities. This can feel a little like trying to catch paper money in a cash booth.

There is no silver bullet, but there are lots of resources and experts that complement the Main Street Approach. Author Roger Brooks is one of them.  For more than 30 years Roger has helped transform ordinary places into extraordinary destinations. Currently, Roger is promoting a free series of webinars that focus on why downtowns are popular and more important than ever. He showcases low-cost activities that downtown advocates are doing to create vibrant, successful destinations for both locals AND visitors.

The recording of the first of the series is only available until July 28.  You can catch the rest of the series @RogerBrooksInternational.

Berryville Main Street Celebrates 25 Years

Guest blogger Sue Ross, Executive Director of Berryville Main Street, has 10 years of Main Street experience and recently returned to Berryville to lead a refreshed program, creating new partnerships and an enhanced marketplace. 

Berryville Main Street turned 25! We celebrated with bluegrass, local food, and friends in a restored downtown dairy barn.  Started in 1992, Berryville Main Street successfully sought Virginia Main Street community designation and National Main Street Accreditation to encourage the growth and revitalization of their small town.

As one of the oldest continuously designated Main Street communities in Virginia, Berryville has seen numerous building improvements, new businesses, job creation, and retail promotions resulting in a revitalized downtown. Successful partnerships include Town and County, community leaders, businesses, area schools and nonprofits.  In 2016, Berryville Main Street was recognized with a Virginia Main Street Milestone Award celebrating more than $30 million in private investment.

Berryville Main Street 25th Anniversary Celebration at the Barns of Rose Hill, February 28, 2017

Berryville Main Street 25th
Anniversary Celebration at the Barns of Rose Hill, February 28, 2017

In these 25 years, many memories have been created with events like Barn and Blue Moon Dances, Monthly and Holiday Craft Markets, Arbor Day clean-ups, Volunteer Brick Awards, and entrepreneurial ventures like the Fire House Gallery.  Berryville Main Street also spearheaded the restoration of the Barns of Rose Hill as a cultural center and visitor center.  Much of this would not have happened without the unfailing volunteer commitment of Susi Bailey, who was recognized for her service to downtown with a handcrafted garden bench from Smallwood Woodworking.

Berryville Main Street has certainly seen the ebb and flow of volunteers, board members, government officials and businesses over the years, but the vision remains constant:  Keep Berryville a vibrant, vital, unique, attractive, and family friendly place to shop, enjoy and live.

Thank you to everyone who has been a champion for downtown and supported Berryville Main Street!

BrewDog, Gloucester Wants You!

Guest Blogger Jenny Crittenden, executive director of Gloucester Main Street Preservation Trust, started with Main Street in 2006.  Her leadership has inspired key partnerships and implementable growth strategies for Gloucester Village, including the creation of façade and interior improvement grant programs and an annual symphony concert that brings over 2,000 visitors to downtown. 

As we enter the holiday season and everyone is spreading cheer….here in Gloucester we’re thinking beer! 

Over the last few years, I’ve attended National Main Street Conferences and been fascinated with the concept of crowdfunding a project.  The nationally-utilized platform ties together a community in a way that a traditional approach to project funding does not.  We now have the crazy opportunity, through a national competition, to crowdfund a BrewDog brew pub – a whole new amenity to our rural community!  We are always thinking big and there’s nothing we aren’t willing to tackle; including competing on the level of cities such as Houston, San Diego, New York City, or Chicago.brewdogsocial

BrewDog is an irreverent Scottish craft brewer that loves American brew pubs and will be embracing these beacons of beery enlightenment by launching their very own in the United States.  They currently operate more than 46 BrewDog bars globally, from Tokyo to Barcelona, and now they are bringing the very first BrewDog venues stateside as part of the Equity for Punks USA campaign!

Why not Gloucester?  Exactly…why not?  Smaller communities can rally fast, build a grassroots effort, and get buy-in, not just financially, but that entire community-emotional-buy-in.  It’s what makes a small downtown so special.  We may not yet be on the leaderboard, a map that tracks the cities in the contest, but we have BrewDog’s attention.

BrewDog executives have seen our press release in the local newspapers and are watching our Facebook page, seeing that over 1,000 people are talking about the competition.  They even agreed to send a BrewDog representative and personal video message to Gloucester for our upcoming public meeting, for which we flew in beer from Scotland for tasting.  On site we will have laptops and tablets for on-the-spot investment.  We aim to take the leaderboard by storm!

If 500 people invest in BrewDog USA from GLOUCESTER, VIRGINIA, and our local partners, they will open a brew pub HERE!  Minimum investment is only $95.

Contribute and follow our progress >>

 

 

Preservation Virginia Releases Economic Impact Study of Virginia Main Street Program

Preservation Virginia LogoOn Wednesday, Preservation Virginia released a study measuring the economic impact of 30 years of the
Virginia Main Street program. The report documents the Virginia Main Street program throughout the last 30 years. The report has documented the direct economic effects across Virginia Main Streets since 1985, when the program was adopted in Virginia to revitalize its historic downtowns.

“Preservation Virginia’s study highlights the impressive work the Virginia Main Street program is doing to help our communities across the commonwealth stay healthy, create jobs, grow entrepreneurs and attract visitors,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Maurice Jones. “These communities are one of the many vital assets that will help Virginia prosper in the 21st century.”

Some notable statistics from the impact study range from the number of businesses and jobs created to the amount of private investment and volunteer time. In the last 30 years, 11,908 net new jobs have been created by Virginia Main Street businesses. More than 3,365 net new businesses have been created in our Main Street districts, and these entrepreneurs are a key component to Virginia’s economic strategy. Virginia’s Main Street districts have been able to weather business cycle downturns better than the overall economy. More than $1.2 billion has been invested in Main Street districts, with 71 percent being from the private sector. Almost $2 billion in total economic impact has been generated from the Virginia Main Street districts.

“Beyond the notable numbers, the Virginia Main Street program has helped these communities embrace the cultural history, a sense of community and a wonderful quality of life that attracts visitors, residents and businesses alike,” said Bill Shelton, director of the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development.

Preservation Virginia commissioned the report with funding assistance from the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development. The report details the economic impacts of the Virginia Main Street Program, an approach to downtown revitalization that purses economic development within the context of historic preservation. The study and research includes case studies on three of the 25 Virginia Main Street communities: Culpeper, Harrisonburg and South Boston.

“In 2014, Preservation Virginia commemorated its 125th anniversary. We used this anniversary as a way to celebrate and highlight the many historic preservation efforts and accomplishments in communities across the commonwealth. We commissioned a three-part economic study by the Center Urban and Regional Analysis at Virginia Commonwealth University to measure the impact historic preservation is having in communities across Virginia.” said Elizabeth Kostelny, chief executive officer of Preservation Virginia. “The second phase of the project demonstrates the value of the Virginia Main Street program regionally and on Virginia’s overall economy.”

To view the entire report, visit http://preservationvirginia.org/preserve/economicimpact.

Downtown South Boston Logo Image

Destination Downtown South Boston

Check the local news stands: Virginia Main Street in Southern Living

In the September 2015 issue of Southern Living, you will find a spread highlighting travel destinations across the commonwealth, including a special nod to our beloved Virginia Main Street communities.  Thank you to our partners at Virginia Tourism Corporation.  Web links direct readers to a list of the designated communities and points travelers to the heart of each community, its downtown district.  Turn up that smile and cool down the taps, the neighbors are coming!

Virginia is for Main Street Lovers!

Celebrate Downtown with Virginia Main Streets - September 2015 Issue of Southern Living

September 2015 Issue of Southern Living

 

 

Register Now for the VMS Toolkit – September 15-16 in South Boston

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Building a Resilient Nonprofit Together

September 15-16

South Boston, Virginia

Behind every exciting Main Street District beats the collective heart of volunteers, entrepreneurs and property owners working together to create an environment of invitation. Every day, residents and visitors are discovering what makes your Main Street their favorite, be it the shops, the food or the hospitality.

What is going on behind the curtain of your Main Street organization? Do ideas and agendas harmonize like a well-rehearsed chorus?  Do the inner workings of your nonprofit more closely resemble Pandora’s Box than a fine-tuned organ? How do you address these issues together?

Join your Virginia Main Street network of dedicated volunteers and professional managers in South Boston for two days of how-to’s and best practices to build a resilient and effective nonprofit organization. Your volunteer board, committee members and local officials are all invited for fun, networking and great ideas to make positive change in your downtown and enjoy doing it.

More information >> Agenda

 

Launch Gloucester announces winner of first Community Business Launch

A bakery and cafe, a business catering to pets and pet owners and a massage and wellness clinic will be the newest businesses to open or expand on Main Street following the Launch Gloucester awards ceremony on Tuesday, May 19.  Participants in the entrepreneur contest that launched earlier this year also got a surprise element when the Cook Foundation granted a $5,00 award to the sole business in the competition with an arts  component.  Three winners, and the fourth that won the Cook Foundation prize, were among 10 businesses whittled down from an original field that exceeded 40 when Launch Gloucester got under way last year.  The entrepreneurs vied for a combined value of $95,000 in good, services and start-up capital to launch a business on Main Street.

The Launch Gloucester program was one of three in the state that are part of Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s Virginia Community Business Launch initiative, managed by DHCD.

Hopewell and Staunton will be announcing their winners in the next few weeks, so be on the lookout.

How-to-apply workshops are being conducted in the next two weeks for the 2016 Community Business Launch application.

CBL Gloucester

Winner Launch Gloucester – Sweet Tooth Parlor & Cafe