Main Street ®

On-site Seminars and Workshops

Because educating and engaging community leaders results in more successful revitalization efforts, the Main Street Center offers a wide range of standard and customized training seminars. These seminars and workshops include our Main Street Basics Seminars, in addition to other commercial district revitalization topics.  Each of our on-site seminars and workshops is designed to help local revitalization activists learn about relevant tools and techniques to address all aspects of commercial district revitalization.

If your particular topic isn’t addressed here, we can also develop a customized training session to meet your needs.


Organizational Development Seminars

Introduction to Main Street Organization

A vibrant, well-functioning organization is necessary to implement business development strategies, physical improvements, promotions, and commercial district revitalization projects. Learn the basics of establishing and running a successful Main Street program. All aspects of organizational structure will be covered, including the roles of the board, the organization committee, and the executive director in volunteer recruitment, fund raising, public relations, and more.
Length: One-half to one full day seminar.

How to Organize a Board Retreat

Board retreats can be extremely beneficial to an organization, but require an enormous amount of participants' time. Therefore, good planning is essential to make a retreat worthwhile. This half-day workshop can help staff and board leaders plan a retreat agenda so the board's time together is beneficial, productive, and fun. The workshop will help participants plan flow, incorporate relevant fun activities, and reach desired outcomes.
Length: One to two hour seminar.

How to Facilitating Effective Meetings

Meetings are unavoidable for commercial district revitalization programs, but they do not have to be something everyone dreads! This session can help ensure that your staff and volunteers know how to run smooth and productive session
Length: One to two hours or one full-day workshop.

Managing Main Street Staff

Aimed at board members and executive directors, this session helps participants understand basic procedures and good practices for managing staff in a nonprofit organization.
Length: One hour or one half-day seminar.

Recruiting and Managing Revitalization Volunteers

An effective volunteer recruitment and management strategy is the backbone of a community-driven revitalization program. Learn how to create and sustain a strong volunteer corps, and gather proven volunteer management techniques.
Length: One half-day to one full day workshop seminar.

Promoting Your Organization.

Even the most successful revitalization programs cannot take for granted community-wide understanding and support for their revitalization efforts. A comprehensive communication strategy helps build awareness and involvement that supports fund-raising and volunteer recruitment. In this session, participants learn how to work effectively with the media, develop a successful message, handle interviews, develop informative printed materials, create multi-tiered public speaking activities engaging board and staff, and build relations with partners to create mutually beneficial communication activities.
Length: One and one and one half hours to one half-day workshop.

Membership Campaigns

Membership campaigns can be vital tools to expand financial and philosophical "buy-in" for the revitalization effort. This session offers an overview of the components of membership programs, complete with case studies.
Length: One half-day seminar.

Turning Special Events into Fund Raisers

Special events are a great way to create excitement, fun, and exposure for your commercial district.  If done right, they help educate residents and visitors about the distinctive qualities of your downtown, its cultural traditions, architecture, and history, and rekindle pride in the community. They can also be a source of revenue. Find out how to turn “fun raisers” into “fund raisers” for your organization. Learn the fundamentals of organizing a special event from brainstorming the concept, creating realistic budgets, finding sponsors, and attacking the "to-do" list. Examples of successful events from around the country are featured.
Length: One and one and one-half hours to one half-day workshop.

Developing a Fundraising Plan

Raising funds for a Main Street program is an essential task for every revitalization effort, and effective strategies for sustainable funding must be based on local circumstances. Designed for those who already have experience in basic fund-raising activities, this course will help focus energies on developing a fundraising plan to achieve better results from campaigns, membership programs, and volunteers. In this workshop, participants will learn how to develop and effective fundraising plan, the multiple sources of funds that can be used in revitalization activities, how to link funding to strategic planning goals, preparing fund-raising materials, how to create and train the fund-raising team, and the strategies for handling donor objections.
Length: One-half to one full day seminar.


Commercial District Design Seminars

Introduction to Main Street Design

This session will give you a firm grounding in the fundamental design goals and strategies used to bring life back to the pedestrian-oriented commercial district. Find out how to get visual improvements underway, how to put together a first-year work plan, and how to assign roles and responsibilities to staff and committee members.
Length: One-half to one full day seminar.

Designing Design Guidelines

Design guidelines can be an important tool in educating downtown property owners and merchants on proper techniques and methods for rehabilitating historic commercial buildings. In this workshop, learn what the basic components of a historic preservation-based set of design guidelines and the process used to develop them.
Length: One-half day seminar.

Streetscape Survival Training

Improving the streetscape is a top priority for commercial district revitalization programs, but leaders often underestimate how much these extensive capital projects can harm retail sales during construction. This interactive workshop covers techniques to design a streetscape that incorporates the needs of the commercial district, along with ways to protect retailers from low sales volume during the construction phase. Participants also learn how to better manage the construction process, set expectations, and prepare for the unexpected. Participants are encouraged to bring slides of their own communities to use as discussion tools.
Length: One half-day workshop

Urban Planning for Main Street Programs

In order to be credible in the development world, local revitalization staff and volunteers must understand its language and procedures. This seminar teaches attendees about the basics of planning and zoning tools and ways that commercial district revitalization programs can use the planning and zoning process to guide development and design to their own advantage.
Length: One full-day seminar.

Developing a Commercial District Master Plan

Small towns, suburban communities and inner city neighborhoods alike are adopting commercial district master plans as an effective way to guide new development, [promote historic preservation, remove regulatory barriers to revitalization, and plan for comprehensive streetscape and physical improvements. However, putting together downtown plans is always easy. Good downtown plans require a well-organized planning process, stakeholders, and community residents willing to be engaged in creating the plan, and quality consultants who will listen to the community's vision for its downtown. This workshop highlights the typical components of a downtown master plan, shows what makes for a good planning process, and teaches attendees about the role a Main Street organization can play in that process
Length: One-half to one full day workshop.

Auditing your Comprehensive Plan and Zoning Ordinance.

Local plans, zoning ordinances and other land use regulations may not always work to promote your downtown revitalization goals. In fact, certain zoning use restrictions and parking requirements can often act as barriers to introducing new economic uses to downtown districts. This workshop teaches Main Street programs about the strengths and weaknesses of current downtown plans and zoning ordinances and provides solutions to help communities achieve long-term economic revitalization and design improvement goals.
Length: One-half to one full-day workshop.


Promotion and Marketing Seminars

Introduction to Main Street Promotions

In this session, you will learn the elements of a well-crafted promotional strategy and ways to plan for success. Promotion, in the Main Street approach, is a multifaceted method to focus community attention and interest on the historic downtown or neighborhood business district, its cultural traditions, architecture, and history. Activities should support the overall revitalization effort and serve as an integral component of economic development strategies. In addition, promotions build a sense of community through special events that invite residents and visitors to socialize in the commercial district through entertaining activities.
Length: One-half to one full-day seminar.

Marketing Your Commercial District

Forget which committee's job it is and begin to concentrate on an overall strategy for marketing your commercial district. Learn how the organization's entire scope of activities can work to portray a favorable image of your district to customers as well as potential business and property owners. This seminar provides opportunities to identify “best marketing practices” and includes a participatory exercise for attendees to create a marketing piece.
Length: One-half to one full-day seminar.


Economic Revitalization Seminars

Introduction to Main Street Economic Restructuring

This seminar teaches attendees about the role of the Main Street Economic Restructuring Committee which is to help the community reverse the cycle of disinvestment by increasing investment in infrastructure, property, and businesses. Learn the various ways the economic restructuring committee functions through activities such as retail market analysis, business and real estate development, financial incentive programs, and downtown planning. Current downtown economic trends as well as successful economic restructuring case studies will be discussed.
Length: One-half to one full day seminar.

Economic Trends in Main Street Commercial Districts

A retrospective of how the economic cycles of the last 40 years have shaped and changed Main Streets.
Length: One to two hours.

Market Analysis Overview

This seminar teaches basic Market Analysis techniques and provides a snapshot of the market analysis process, its components, and uses for Main Street revitalization organizations.
Length and Presenter: One to one and one-half hours.

Market Analysis Intensive Course

This intensive course in market analysis gives local Main Street revitalization programs the information and skills they need to prepare and undertake a full retail market analysis. In this course, we introduce the tools of the trade (Census, Consumer Expenditure Survey, Census of Retail Trade, Dollars & Cents of Shopping Centers, etc.); discuss the principles behind direct consumer research and surveys, retail sales analysis, cluster planning and demographic analysis. In essence, this workshop teaches the methodology developed by the NMSC as a tool for understanding the economies of traditional commercial districts.
Length: One to two-day workshop.

Undertaking Business Retention Activities

It is always easier to retain a business than recruit a new one: this introduction to business retention teaches attendees how to make a connection with local business owners, develop a strong relationship, and assist them in adjusting to changes and opportunities in the marketplace to keep their businesses strong.
Length: One hour or one half-day.

Are You Ready for Business Recruitment?

Is your program being pushed into recruiting new businesses before you feel ready for the task? This full-day workshop will teach attendees how to prepare. Attendees will learn about the facets of readiness; passive and active recruitment; intermediate steps; how to develop a recruitment strategy, including creating a business development team; and the types of marketing materials that attract business prospects. The workshop also includes role-playing exercises appropriate for both staff and volunteers of commercial district revitalization programs.
Length: One-half to one full day.

Finding and Fostering Entrepreneurs

Filling downtown vacancies with vibrant new businesses is the dream of every revitalization program. Economic Restructuring volunteers always ask, “What’s the secret to recruiting a business?” This session will teach your community about the inherent weaknesses of traditional business recruitment strategies and provide a framework for an alternative approach to filling vacancies based on entrepreneurship. This session will also focus on creating a support system for entrepreneurs and how it can reestablish the economic and social health of your downtown.
Length: One and one-half hours to one-half day.

Is Your Main Street Program an Entrepreneurial Support Organization?

The strength of most historic commercial districts lies in their owner-operated businesses. These homegrown local businesses distinguish downtowns from competing commercial districts that are filled with chain and franchise formula stores. Your local Main Street program clearly values downtown entrepreneurs, but what is it doing to proactively develop and support current and future owner operated businesses? Attend this session to learn about how Main Street programs can establish themselves as a central “Entrepreneurial Support Organization” by leading efforts to develop and market entrepreneurship awareness and appreciation, technical assistance services for entrepreneurs, capital access, entrepreneurial networks, and a local entrepreneurial culture.
Length: One-half to one full day.

Facilitating Business Transitions

Every downtown experiences the closing of independent businesses due to owner retirement, poor management, loss of a lease, increased competition, or a downturn in the local economy. What can a Main Street organization do to prevent closures or to facilitate its repositioning or transition to new ownership? This workshop will teach programs what kind of business assistance is best and how a community's efforts make the difference in keeping your downtown storefronts occupied with vibrant businesses.
Length: One hour to one-half day workshop.


Other Revitalization Topics

Lessons Learned from Award-winning Revitalization Programs

Up to five communities per year are recognized as Great American Main Street Award winners. What do these programs know that yours does not? This session, packed with case studies, highlights the successes and lessons learned from some of the most successful commercial district revitalization programs in the country.
Length: One to one and one-half hour speech.

Downtown Revitalization Success Stories

Local Main Street programs often overcome tremendous odds to achieve success in their downtowns. This session highlights extended “before and after” profiles of successful downtowns and describes how they accomplished their revitalization goals.
Length: One to one-and one-half hour speech.

Emerging Trends for Main Street

Trends that affect Main Street revitalization and what we can do about them.
Length and Presenter: One-hour speech.

Smart Growth and Main Street

An overview of smart growth movement, tools, legislation, and their application for traditional commercial districts.
Length: One to one and one-half hour speech