2019 Virginia Main Street Idea Pitch: Making Ideas Happen!

Main Street Idea Pitch!
Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Do you have an idea for a new Main Street revitalization project idea you would like to start?  Are you positive it’s something that will be a slam-dunk success? Then you do not want to miss Virginia Main Street’s second annual

Main Street Idea Pitch competition.
Main Street Idea Pitch is a downtown revitalization idea competition during Virginia Main Street’s Downtown Intersections conference, July 22-24, in Lynchburg. It is an opportunity to win a $5,000 grant award to implement the idea. The competition will begin the morning of Wednesday, July 24 and culminate with the winner announcement later that day during the Virginia Main Street Merit Awards Luncheon.
The Main Street Idea Pitch competition is geared towards stimulating the Virginia Main Street network of communities and professionals to craft imaginative Main Street project ideas. Projects should:
  1. Connect to the community’s vision to create vibrant, people-centered places to live, work and invest.
  2. Support any of the four key areas Main Street programs have been using as a guiding framework for over 35 years: economic vitality, effective promotion, quality design and sustainable organization.
  3. Focus on highly visible changes and measuring progress and results that demonstrate the revitalization effort is under way and succeeding.
Potential project ideas can include, but are not limited to:
  • Nonprofit organizational development
  • Market studies and strategy development
  • Downtown organization website development
  • Design and place-making projects
  • Entrepreneur support programs
  • Buy local and extended store hours programs
Pitch applications must be received by 5 p.m. on May 3.
Find out more to become a pitch presenter and make your ideas happen >>>
Check out the video below to find out how last year’s VMS Idea Pitch winner, Downtown Blackstone Inc., was able to utilize the $5,000 grand prize to beautify their downtown!

Build a Better Board, Be a Better Board

With spring upon us, the thoughts of many Main Street board members, directors, coordinators and managers turn to board development (right?).

First – plan. Think about “How to Build the Board You Want.”

Second – ask questions.How do we identify and recruit the right members?” Do we have a finance guru? Marketing expertise? Community representation? Building owners? Business owners?

Next – evaluate with “How to Select First Rate Board Members.” And once you have selected them, let them know what is expected of them during their service with a Board Member Agreement.

Now – orient your new board members! Board Source has a great resource for planning the orientation that is right for your organization and board.

And, do not forget National Main Street! They have great resources for planning all aspects of your community revitalization efforts, which is the whole reason you have an organization and a board. Their Board Member’s Handbook covers not just governance, but the Main Street Program and Approach, as well.

Do you want to provide your shiny new board members even more resources? Consider the Center for Nonprofit Excellence’s Board Academy to take it to the next level.

Have you used any of these resources? Are any of them new to you? Tell us what board development resources you find the most beneficial.

Now accepting nominations for the 2019 Virginia Main Street Merit Awards



2019 Virginia Main Street Revitalization Merit Awards

Virginia Main Street invites you to submit nominations for outstanding achievements in comprehensive downtown revitalization efforts, recognizing best downtown business promotion, outstanding fundraising effort, and best public improvement project, to name a few. Awards will be presented during a special celebration at the Virginia Main Street Downtown Intersections summer conference on July 22-24 in Lynchburg, Virginia.   

  • All levels of participants in the Virginia Main Street network, including Virginia Main Street designated communities and DHCD commercial district affiliates, may submit applications.
  • To be eligible, all projects, activities, or events submitted for recognition must be completed between April 1, 2018 and March 31, 2019.

Award nominations must be received by 5 p.m. on April 19.

For more on this recognition opportunity >>>

For more information about the conference >>>

Regional Rev Up: The Six Q’s of Marketing

How effective is your business or nonprofit at reaching and attracting a targeted customer base?  Do you wish that your Main Street organization could skillfully build awareness among volunteers and potential donors to support the mission? 

On April 16, 18, and 23 in Hopewell, Wytheville, and Fredericksburg, the spring edition of the Regional Rev Up promises to load you up with tools to develop a solid business or nonprofit marketing plan.

Whether you are trying to increase your sales, recruit a new business, or secure more funding for your program, the basics of marketing to your audience are the same. In this spring Regional Rev Up, led by the destination marketing leaders of Virginia Tourism, we will answer the “Six Questions of a Marketing Plan” and help you develop your strategy for marketing to any audience.

Join us for this half-day workshop that will be educational, inspiring, and fun!

Registration is only $15 to cover lunch from a local eatery.  Registration for each Rev Up session closes one week prior to the event, register now to reserve your spot!

Register now! >>

Community Business Launch – Jump Start Your Downtown!

Since 2015, 24 communities have participated in DHCD’s Community Business Launch (CBL) program and launched new or expanded businesses in a targeted district of their choice. A systems approach to asset-based, small-business economic development, the CBL program helps communities identify their unique assets and fill vacant storefronts with businesses that best attract and serve its residents.

In 2019, the city of Galax applied for CBL funding to combat a high vacancy rate in their downtown. Like many communities, Galax struggled with a lack of retail variety, sporadic and unreliable business hours, and little enthusiasm among existing downtown business owners.

Galax received 19 applications from local entrepreneurs to participate in the Jump! Galax competition, and ultimately, the city awarded six businesses funding to open downtown. In addition to creating six new businesses, Galax was able to cultivate the enthusiasm and support among business owners they had always hoped to achieve.

Networking and new cohesive relationships have grown between the entrepreneurs and each now has a vested interest in the success of the others. As an example, on Small Business Saturday and on the Saturday before Christmas, one business invited all other participants to set up, display and sell at their location.” – Brenda Marrah, City of Galax Grants Administrator

What is more, Galax was the first community to make the program available in multiple languages and provided an interpreter for businesses that pitched, acknowledging its growing Hispanic population (which makes up 15.3 percent of its 6,625 residents). As a result, a community favorite known for its beef-tongue tacos will be relocating to downtown Galax, in the heart of bluegrass country!

If you have got big plans for your community and are interested in applying for CBL, contact Jessica Hupp at 804-371-7121. The application deadline for fiscal year 2020 has now been extended to April 19, 2019.

View coverage of Galax’s CBL award ceremony here.

Pulaski Invites You to Revitalization Revival

The town of Pulaski is excited to partner with the Virginia Department of Historic Resources to host Revitalization Revival:  A Big Tent Approach to Preservation on May 1-2, 2019, in Historic Downtown Pulaski.  Revitalization Revival will bring together local government leaders, community members, historic property owners and investors to share ideas and learn about the opportunities and challenges facing historic resources throughout Southwest Virginia.

The conference will feature keynote addresses from two leading professionals in historic and cultural heritage preservation.  Kim Trent and Cheryl Hargrove, both experienced nonprofit leaders, will share best practices for engaging community members in preservation initiatives and strategies to market our region’s vast historic and cultural resources.  Other conference sessions will be led by experts from across western Virginia, focusing on a range of issues facing rural and urban communities throughout Southwest Virginia. The preliminary conference program has full session descriptions, event details and a listing of presenters. 

Revitalization Revival provides a unique opportunity for the region’s communities to share best practices and build on a rich, shared heritage. The best part? This conference is FREE!

To register, please visit https://revitalizationrevival.eventbrite.com by April 8, 2019.  Conference questions can be sent to jsanders@pulaskitown.org.  Come visit Pulaski, and join us for this important training!

Save The Date: 2019 Downtown Intersections


Downtown Intersections

July 22-24 | Lynchburg, Virginia

Save the date and mark your calendars to attend Downtown Intersections, presented by the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development, on July 22-24 in Lynchburg, Virginia!

This two-day event promises a packed schedule full of sessions spanning topics geared toward strengthening your downtown revitalization efforts and helping your community create its ideal downtown destination marketplace.