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Lotsa Support for Small Businesses These Days

First we had Black Friday. Then there was Cyber Monday. Now we have Small Business Saturday. The National Trust Main Street Center was pleased to join American Express Open in launching Small Business Saturday on November 27. This national movement to help build business for local merchants racked up 1,197,000 likes on the Small Business Saturday Facebook page by press time and garnered a lot of publicity for America’s independent shops. We were particularly jazzed to sign up three communities that launched Small Business Saturday events to show what can be done on Main Street. They included Port Townsend, Washington; Cedar Falls, Iowa; and Roslindale Village in Boston. The districts coordinated mayoral proclamations and hired professional videographers to capture the caroling, raffles, performances, happy shoppers, Santa visits, tree lighting ceremonies, and more. Any business could participate in the movement and access the resources provided on the Facebook page. We look forward to Small Business Saturday 2011 and spreading the word so more Main Streets can celebrate the event next year. Oh, and check out the American Express Open Forum online for consistently great articles and resources for small business assistance: www.openforum.com. It’s Andrea-Approved – I post their articles on our Facebook page all the time.

Another cool holiday shopping promotion popped up in Michigan this year. The Michigan Main Street Center issued the ShopMIDowntown Holiday Challenge asking Michiganers to spend 75 percent of their holiday shopping dollars with businesses in the state’s downtowns and Main Streets. The Center created a Facebook page where people could accept the challenge and post pictures and videos of their favorite downtown stores. This cool idea generated lots of media buzz and excitement.   

Were you, too, a fan of the “Be a Pepper” Dr. Pepper ads? Culpeper, Va., put its own twist on the Be a Culpeper Local campaign, which it launched this fall. Culpeper Renaissance, Inc., made the pitch for residents to think about how one penny out of every dollar spent on Virginia State sales tax is returned to the county in which it was collected, with half going to the school system. They said they wanted to entice folks in the community’s 22,000 households to put their money where their house is. Check out the campaign at www.BeACulpeperLocal.com. The site offers solid reasons for buying local while providing shoppers with a business directory and businesses a marketing package to join the campaign.

Main Street Luv (Ow! Ow!)

Cue Barry White … or Chef from South Park. We want to know, where are America’s most romantic Main Streets? Is yours one of them? We are putting together a list for Valentine’s Day 2011, so please start thinking about your top reasons and favorite photos that can illustrate why hearts are aflutter on your Main Street. Check www.mainstreet.org in January to nominate your community.

Web Watch

The recession has had a major impact on the cultural and heritage tourism industry, from heritage sites and museums closing to state programs being eliminated. But, using an award from the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Heritage Tourism Program created an online survival toolkit with target resources, 11 in-depth survival strategies, and case studies illustrating those strategies in action – including Main Street examples! www.preservationnation.org/survival-toolkit.

Transit wonks and smart growth fans, get ready to go crazy! The Center for Transit-Oriented Development (CTOD) launched a first-of-its-kind web database to provide access to comprehensive information about more than 4,000 transit zones across the United States. This web tool will help developers, investors, and city officials make planning decisions that take advantage of development opportunities around transit nodes. The TOD Database (http://toddata.cnt.org/) provides information on density, demographics, occupation, and transportation habits of households near 4,160 existing and proposed fixed-guideway transit stations, including commuter rail, streetcars, light rail, bus rapid transit, and ferries.

This fall, the Iowa Department of Economic Development published the Guide to Greening Your District 2010. Learn some green tricks of the trade for stormwater management, green roofs, district energy systems, lighting, upper-floor development, the planning process, and implementation. Check it out at http://www.iowalifechanging.com/community/green_initiatives.aspx

Want tips on working with volunteers and board members, fund raising, leadership, and nonprofit management? Get a free subscription to Contributions magazine. Every issue will cover at least one topic that you are dealing with. Plus, it’s free. Yeah, that changes everything, doesn’t it? http://www.contributionsmagazine.com/current.html.

Around the Network

Dancing with the Stars in Durant, Oklahoma

Taking its cue from the hit reality/dancing television show, Durant Main Street hosted a Dancing with the Stars of Durant fund raiser at the Choctaw Casino Resort’s Center Stage. Community leaders and news anchors were paired with area dancers to provide an evening of entertainment that also included fine dining, a silent auction, and an open dance floor. Dancing couples got into the competitive spirit by creating some serious costumes and practicing as much as 80 hours before the event.

The former manager of Durant Main Street, Donna Dow, who is now with Denison, Texas, says this was the organization’s second best fund raiser. “We had eight dance teams which included the president of the local university, three TV personalities, representatives from the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, the Chamber of Commerce director, a local school principal, and a corporate attorney from a regional bank,” says Dow. “A lot of people told me this was the most fun event we have had yet.” The planning committee got started in March and began working on the event in earnest in July. By time the September event took place, more than a thousand volunteer hours had been clocked!

El Modelo de Los Cuatro Puntos para La Revitalización de Centros de Comercio Históricos

NTMSC Senior Program Officer Norma Ramirez de Miess had the opportunity to discuss the Main Street Four Point Approach® in two languages in September. She traveled to Woodburn, Oregon, to give a bilingual introduction to the Main Street Approach to an enthusiastic group of 30 Hispanic business and property owners. Norma discussed challenges, opportunities, and strategies for meaningful outreach to the Hispanic community. Since then, the community has formed a 12-person steering committee and has started recruiting volunteers.

Better Living through Light Bulbs

Small businesses and offices may not be using LED (light-emitting diode) light bulbs yet, perhaps because they can cost more than $30 each. But the payoff might be worth it considering LEDs use less than half the electricity of compact fluorescent lights (CFL) and aren’t likely to burn out for 30 years. That’s a dollar a year, folks, and can you put a price on saving energy? Yes, you can. According to Kelly Spor in her article, LEDs: Energy-efficient Business Lighting Gets More Affordable, on SmallBizTrends.com, a 60-watt incandescent light bulb might cost $12 in electricity a year to operate, while a CFL might cost $3 and a LED might cost $1.50. The lifespan and energy savings pay off in the end. Plus LEDs have a softer, more pleasant light than CFL, and don’t have mercury. Also, as Spors points out, some states and municipalities offer rebates or incentives for businesses to buy energy-efficient products, so check out what is available in your area.

At the Center

Cha-cha-cha-changes! We have some new staff members and new titles to announce. Tomas Ramirez has joined our staff this month, as Network Services Coordinator.  He will be managing our National Main Street Network membership program. Tomas brings a wealth of experience and ideas from his work at the Association of American Colleges and Universities, as well as the National Park Service. Stephen Amraen also came aboard as the Program Assistant/Assistant to the Director this summer.

Todd Barman, Norma Ramirez de Meiss, and Kathy La Plante will join Teresa Lynch as Senior Program Officers, reflecting their seasoned expertise in the field.

Debra Wise will now be our Senior Business Manager, in recognition of her more than 20 years at the Center!

Leslie Albrecht will now be our Assistant Business Manager for Partner Services, making her the “go-to” person for Coordinator memberships, licensing agreements, annual reporting, and contracts.

Mary de la Fe has been promoted to Program Manager for Conferences, as she has continued to expand her duties, including coordination of the Great American Main Street Awards.

Andrea Dono has been promoted to Program Manager for Research & Training, as she will be bringing back Main Street certification and webinar trainings.

Linda Glisson has been promoted to Assistant Director for Information Resources, as she oversees all editorial aspects of our communications – both print and online.

2011 GAMSA Semifinalists

We are pleased to announce the 10 Great American Main Street Award (GAMSA) Semifinalists for 2011:

            •           Downtown Beloit, Inc., Beloit, Wisconsin

            •           Boyne City Main Street Program, Boyne City, Michigan

            •           Durant Main Street, Durant, Oklahoma

            •           Farmland Downtown Historic District, Farmland, Indiana

            •           Downtown Fort Pierce, Fort Pierce, Florida

            •           Hobart Main Street, Hobart, Oklahoma

            •           Old Town Lansing, Lansing, Michigan Main Street Marshfield, Marshfield, Wisconsin

            •           Downtown Newark Partnership, Newark, Delaware

            •           Silver City MainStreet Project, Silver City, New Mexico


Congratulations to these fine communities. Stayed tuned to find out who makes the final cut. Winners will be announced at the 2011 National Main Streets Conference in Des Moines, Iowa, on May 22.

11 Most Endangered

While the list above is something to celebrate, the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places is a somber, yet very important list, too. It has identified more than 200 one-of-a-kind historic treasures since 1988. From urban districts to rural landscapes, Native American landmarks to 20th-century sports arenas, the list spotlights places across America that are threatened by neglect, insufficient funds, inappropriate development, or insensitive public policy. Applications for the 2011 program are available through January 14, 2011. For more information, visit http://www.preservationnation.org/issues/11-most-endangered.