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!

Now accepting nominations for the 2019 Virginia Main Street Merit Awards

VMS-downtown-logo-2019

NOW ACCEPTING AWARD NOMINATIONS

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.   

ELIGIBILITY
  • 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! >>

Save The Date: 2019 Downtown Intersections

SAVE THE DATE

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.

A Jewel Worth Saving: Re-imagining Danville’s North Union Street

Guest Blogger Diana Schwartz, executive director of Danville’s River District Association, is a native of Dickenson County, Virginia, and was previously director of business retention for the Ocala/Marion Chamber and Economic Partnership in Florida, as well as director of the Ocala Main Street Program.

Danville, Virginia may be best known for the railroad system, including the wreck of the “Old 97,“and a rich textile and tobacco history.  But there is a block in downtown Danville, North Union Street, that also has a story of its own.

Recognized as a historical African-American business “mecca” during the era of legal segregation, North Union Street has been home to bustling businesses such as doctors offices, restaurants, a bank currently celebrating its 100th anniversary, barbers and salons, art galleries, and much more since the 1880s. After the closing of Dan River Mills in 2006, the street (like much of downtown) began a rapid economic decline.

Fast Forward to 2018, and over $125 million has been invested in the re-imagining of the River District.  Locally, there is an ever-watchful eye on preservation of the history, the buildings and the stories of the people.  This ethos of preserving both property and personal history led to the recognition that North Union Street was a jewel worth not only saving, but sharing.  In the fall of 2018, the River District Association was invited to participate in the 2018 Partners in Preservation campaign to showcase this history on a national level while competing for a grant to help further the preservation of the properties.

Over the course of 30 days in Sept./Oct. 2018, Danville was charged to garner the most online votes against 20 historic properties throughout the United States in order to win grant funding.  The committee knew the key was not just talking about the buildings, but the history of the people that inhabited them.

Ultimately, Danville pulled out a win. and $150,000 will now be used towards preservation and restoration of two North Union properties. The city of Danville recently completed a streetscape project on North Union, and RDA is currently in the process of a Community Business Launch program with the goal of opening five new business in the summer/fall of 2019 with a focus on North Union Street.  It is by sharing our past that we can build for the future, and we look forward to watching new stories being added to the History of North Union in the coming years.

Learn more about the re-imagining of the Danville River District >>>

Stay Current On Issues That Affect Traditional Commercial Districts

In order to meet new challenges and ensure an effective Main Street revitalization effort, program participants need ongoing training.  Those participants – both staff and local community leaders – need different skills in different phases of the revitalization process.  For that reason, the Virginia Main Street program offers a robust training calendar tackling basic revitalization start-up tactics to deeper-dive technical assistance applied through real community success stories and offered for remote participation and in a variety of classroom environments around Virginia.

Stay current on issues that affect traditional commercial districts and on new revitalization techniques and models.  The 2019 Virginia Main Street Training Calendar is available now, listing opportunities at the regional, state and national levels.  As each training approaches, registration and course details will be posted on this blog and the DHCD landing and program pages.

Upcoming trainings include:

January-February: Community Development Grants How-to-Apply Workshops

February-July:  Incremental Development Alliance Trainings in Small Scale Development

April: Regional Rev Up The Six Q’s of Marketing

May: Webinar What is Main Street?

July: Downtown Intersections, Lynchburg

Check out more details and mark your calendar so you don’t miss a thing!

Update: VMS Idea Pitch! Winner – Blackstone

Guest blogger Zachary Whitlow, executive director of Downtown Blackstone Inc., provides an update on their Blackstone Town Square Revitalization Project that won the VMS Idea Pitch! Award at Downtown Intersections 2018.

We were incredibly excited and grateful to have been chosen as the winner of the first annual Main Street Idea Pitch! competition. The presentation process could not have been better organized, and, even though nerves were felt, all participants were made to feel heard and welcomed among dozens of peers and fellow Main Street colleagues. It was truly a great and fun opportunity for our small, rural Main Street community to receive help in funding a downtown revitalization project that demonstrated our value to key stakeholders and others.

The Blackstone Town Square Revitalization Project was inspired by Dar Williams, author of “What I Found in a Thousand Towns,” and her exploration of spaces and positive proximity. Through design efforts focused on place-making, our organization transformed Blackstone’s underutilized town square into a more people-centered space that stresses inclusiveness, allowing residents and visitors alike to socialize and build ongoing, permanent relationships.

Utilizing the $5,000 award, we reanimated the social utility of the green space by installing outdoor seating areas, planters and trash receptacles. Through use of our own funds and the VTC’s LOVEwork Reimbursement Program, a 17’ x 32’ destination mural and LOVEwork were created. They are meant to serve as two major lures for visitors and residents to interact with through the use of social media and other means in the heart of downtown Blackstone.

We’ve placed a real emphasis on downtown beautification over the past year and the Blackstone Town Square Revitalization Project has served as a much needed catalyst that has inspired neighboring property owners and others to begin making exterior improvements and other design-related changes to their buildings. Although our initial goals for the revitalization project have been met, there is still additions that we are planning to make in the future that will enhance the space even more. Our dreams are becoming a reality!