Authenticity as Economic Catalyst

Learning Approach: Concept Exploration

| Sheraton New Orleans, Napoleon D | Posted: Monday, 3:15-4:30 p.m.

As the downtown revitalization movement matures, we frequently find ourselves striving to rediscover, nurture, and maintain the authentic, quirky, and inherently local qualities of our Main Street districts to better position our communities in today's competitive commercial society. As “curators” of our districts, buildings, spaces, and businesses, we seek to establish and manage a compelling sense of place. Learn why today's consumers want authentic experiences and shopping opportunities and how you can “curate” that experience for locals and tourists alike. Because few things are as resilient yet so easily diminished as our historic commercial districts, our task as Main Street professionals is to maintain and enhance our downtowns’ authentic character, both physically and programmatically, so they can remain truly vital.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Understand why today's consumers want "authentic" experiences and shopping options.
  2. Determine how downtowns can be "curated" to develop and encourage authentic shopping, promotional, and architectural experiences.
  3. Identify, through an exercise, authentic elements in attendees' towns that should be enhanced and preserved.
  4. Maintain and promote the authentic components in attendees' downtowns to drive economic opportunities and maintain a competitive edge.


For more information contact:

Donna Ann Harris, CMSM, Heritage Consulting Inc.
Donna Ann Harris, CMSM, is the principal of Heritage Consulting Inc., a Philadelphia-based consulting firm that works nationwide in three practice areas: downtown and commercial district revitalization, historic preservation and nonprofit organizational development. Ms. Harris has worked with state, county and local Main Street programs in 21 states. She has spoken at the National Main Street Center annual conference for the last eight years and at International Downtown Association annual meeting in 2008 and 2009. Prior to starting her firm in 2004, Ms. Harris was Coordinator of the Illinois Main Street program for two years and the manager of the Illinois suburban Main Street program for four years. During her tenure, Ms. Harris served 56 Illinois Main Street communities, led a staff of 12 and managed a budget of over $1 million. Her book New Solutions for House Museums: Ensuring the Long-Term Preservation of America's Historic Houses was published in 2007 by AltaMira Press. Ms. Harris earned a Master of Science in Historic Preservation from Columbia University in New York, and a Master of Governmental Administration from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. Ms. Harris is a Certified Main Street Manager.

Anthony Rubano, Illinois Historic Preservation Agency
Anthony Rubano is a Project Designer at the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency in Springfield, Illinois, where he has provided design services to over 70 Illinois Main Street communities throughout the State. He reviews proposed changes to historic Illinois properties under a variety of state and federal regulatory and incentive programs. A part-time faculty member of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, he has consulted across the country on historic preservation and downtown revitalization issues. His work, along with that of his 4 colleagues, has garnered awards from the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the National Conference of State Historic Preservation Officers, and the Illinois chapter of the American Institute of Architects. He holds a Master of Architecture from the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign.