Main Street Innovation Lab

InnovationLabWebinar Slide

Past Online Training

Small Business Saturday Webinar #1 

November 28th marks the sixth annual Small Business Saturday, a day to support the local businesses that create jobs, boost the economy and preserve neighborhoods around the country. Small Business Saturday was created in 2010 in response to small business owners’ most pressing need: more customers. Register today for this webinar featuring an American Express representative, Elizabeth McCarthy, who will share examples of successful Small Business Saturday events and explain how you can become a Neighborhood Champion for your community. Learn more about Small Business Saturday and how to become a Neighborhood Champion at

Why Aren't You Asking for Year-End Gifts?

Your Main Street organization could be raising up to 40% of its donations during the last six weeks of the year through an effective year-end appeal. Join us for a webinar led by Donna Ann Harris of Heritage Consulting, Inc., that will give you all the tools you need to implement a year-end campaign using both traditional and social media, and show you how to seek support for the general operations of your Main Street. This fast-paced webinar will outline a simple ten-step process to implement a campaign mid-November through December 31, teach you how to create a realistic fundraising goal, prepare your website for online donations, and much, much more. Participants will also receive an extensive resource packet of materials, including presentation handouts, articles, and an updated 2015 work plan calendar. Members may view the free online training here.

Cultural Districts and Placemaking

More and more cultural districts are being used as placemaking and community revitalization tools. In this webinar, Theresa Cameron, Local Arts Agency Services Program Manager and National Cultural District Exchange, with Americans for the Arts explains the basics of cultural districts. What are they? What types are there? How are they developed? Plus, you'll see some examples of how communities are using cultural districts. Members may view the free online training here.

New Market Tax Credits

New Markets Tax Credits (NMTC) will be made available for 3-4 Main Street development projects thanks to the National Trust Community Investment Corporation (NTCIC), a sister subsidiary of NMSC. NTCIC received authority from the US Treasury to allocate $45 million in Round 12 New Markets Tax Credits, and it has set aside 10% or $4.5 million for innovative NTMC investments under $2 million each in Main Street Communities.

This collaboration with NTCIC is designed specifically to provide support for smaller-scale redevelopment projects on Main Street – a class of development for which it can be particularly difficult to obtain financing. Eligible projects will require somewhere between $1.0 and $1.5 in matching equity (depending on the NTMC financing amount), and these projects must also be eligible for the federal Historic Tax Credit. Use of the NMTC in such transactions makes historic tax credits more valuable and adds more equity to the transaction. These “twinned” financial incentives are very valuable to developers looking to close an equity gap on a historic rehabilitation project. From the Main Street perspective, this funding can be vital in making possible a key revitalization project that will catalyze additional growth in a district.

Project identification must take place by the end of August, 2015. Construction financing must close no later than December 31, 2016. Pre-development funding is not available through this program.

Projects must meet the criteria below:

• Building must be located in a Severely Distressed Census Tracts, defined as: a poverty > 30%; or AMI1.5x the national average. You can check district eligibility on this website

• More than 50% of the leasable space must be leased to small locally-owned businesses or provide direct benefit to low-income persons.

• The sources of financing demonstrate that “but for” the NMTCs, the project would not be financially feasible.

• Owner must be willing to sign a Community Benefits Agreement with NTCIC with specific achievable goals such as the number and quality of construction and permanent jobs created, the amount of space leased to small, locally-owned or startup businesses and value of below market lease rates.

• Developer must obtain a letter of support from city or town government that shows alignment with community priorities.

Be sure to tune in to this webinar hosted by the National Main Street Center and NTCIC to learn more! Members may view the free online training here.

The Great American Main Street Awards: An Insider's Guide to Applying for and Winning GAMSA

This online training provides an insider's perspective on how to put together a great application for the Great American Main Street Awards. Main Street Center staff along with Luther Flurry, from the Montclair Center BID share details on the application process, tips for putting together a great application, and a firsthand account of what winning GAMSA can do for your community. Members may view the free online training here.

Market Your Main Street: Low-Cost, High-Impact Strategies to Get Out Your Message

Your Main Street program is tasked with meeting the needs of many different stakeholders: Visitors, business owners, municipalities, donors, volunteers, etc. How you communicate your message to a wide audience with different interests requires segmenting them and then having separate conversations unique to their interests. In this webinar led by best selling author and customer experience maven, Pamela Herrmann of The Paragon Effect, you will learn a new tactic that few businesses know about that will help you do pinpointed marketing that is low cost, highly pinpointed and hugely effective. Members may view the free online training here.

Main Street Member Benefits 101

Are you making the most of your Main Street membership? Tune in for this webinar and learn how to take advantage of the all benefits NMSC has to offer. Tali Jamir, Membership Assistant at the National Main Street Center, will review your member benefits and walk through how to utilize the tools and resources available on This is a particularly great opportunity for new members to get acquainted with the program, but all are welcome! View the free online training here.

Volunteer Managment on Main Street

April is volunteer month and given the crucial role volunteers play in making succesful Main Streets we thought it would be great to provide you with some tips for managing your volunteers. This webinar will be lead by two National Main Street Center staff: Kathy La Plante, Senior Program Officer and Director of Coordinator Program Services, and Jodie Hiveley, Program Assistant.  They will cover tips on volunteer management and will also unveil the new Volunteer Handbook that was compiled by the Center. Members may view the free online training here.

Your Questions Answered: ArtPlace America Community Development Investments Grants

Is your Main Street organization interested in the value that arts and cultural strategies can bring to your work?  If so, you are invited to attend a grants workshop to learn more about a new grant program offering $3 million and guidance from national experts over a 3-year period.

ArtPlace America is accepting applications from place-based non-governmental organizations (NGOs) with a primary mission of community planning and development for its Community Development Investments program.

This one-time grant program will provide up to $3 million in funding per organization. Each selected organization will also work with national creative placemaking experts, a Financial Capital Consortium, a Federal Grants Advisory Team, and a Community Documentation and Research Team. 

In this grant workshop, Lyz Crane, Deputy Director of ArtPlace, will:

Provide an overview of ArtPlace America and how creative placemaking can contribute to your organization’s goals

Introduce ArtPlace’s new Community Development Investments grant program.

Answer any questions you may have about the program and its application process

Time Management for Main Street Directors

It seems there are never enough hours in the day. For Main Street directors, how do you manage the day-to-day demands of leading an organization, juggle board and committee responsibilities, engage with volunteers, and get in the all-important face-time in your downtown district? It's never easy, but it can be easier! Join the National Main Street Center for this online training, led by seasoned Main Street Director and Marketing Consultant Jacqueline Wolven, as she shares her practical tips for managing your time to be a more effective leader. Members may view the free online training here.

New Main Street Director Orientation

New to Main Street? Be sure to check out this online training, hosted by Norma Miess, National Main Street Center's Director of Leadership Development and Senior Field Officer. In it, Norma addresses the intangible value of the Main Street Approach for communities, outlines the resources available to new Directors from the National Main Street Center, and discusses the key roles of an effective Main Street Director. This training is especially useful for Directors with less than 2 years in Main Street to participate, but all Main Street Directors are encouraged to check it out. Members may view the free online training here.

The Great American Main Street Awards: An Insider's Guide to Applying for and Winning GAMSA

This online training provides an insider's perspective on how to put together a great application for the Great American Main Street Awards. Patrice Frey and Steve Amraen from the National Main Street Center and Eddie Bumbaugh from the Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance share details on the application process, tips for putting together a great application, and a firsthand account of what winning GAMSA can do for your community. Members can view the free online training here.

Park Smart: Best Parking Practices for Your Main Street, presented by DESMAN Parking

Parking is a topic – or often, a problem - that nearly every Main Street community deals with at some point. Not enough parking supply? Is your parking lot an eyesore? Do employees park in coveted spots close to your Main Street businesses? In “Park Smart: Best Parking Practices for Your Main Street,” experts from DESMAN Parking address these critical questions and share best practices topics from shared parking to sustainability to and rates and time limits. Members can view the free online training here.