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

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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 >>>

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 >>>

Finding Main Street Toolkit Available

The full book club toolkit for Dar Williams’ What I Found in a Thousand Towns is now available! Use the toolkit to build “positive proximity,” and start local conversations around the key identity-building assets in your community–who knows what next steps you will take.

What I Found in a Thousand Towns emphasizes the role of projects and individuals in fostering strong community identity. Each chapter features a different group of assets ranging from local food to community spaces. The structure provides an opportunity for Main Street districts to convene and highlight a diverse group of partners, celebrating their work, strengthening alliances and inviting new participants.

Identify potential projects as a result and apply to pitch them for project funding in the 2019 Idea Pitch at Downtown Intersections.

fms tools

HOW TO GET INVOLVED: Invite a local book club, library or civic group to partner with your Main Street. Create some buzz reinforcing the value of the work you are doing. Using the Virginia videos and examples from the book, shine a celebratory light on your own local efforts and community partners. With the toolkit, you can pretty easily set up your own informal mini-conference.  Contact Doug Jackson at (804) 418-9878 or Douglas.Jackson@dhcd.virginia.gov for assistance and brainstorming support.

Afraid you do not have enough readers? Do not worry, you can use the videos to supplement and start the conversation. Launched throughout the fall of 2018 via Facebook Live conversations, the chapter videos have received more than 20,000 views on Facebook. In 2019, DHCD will promote the videos through a Finding Main Street social media campaign featuring quotes and images from the interviews conducted as part of the project with more than 80 Main Street leaders. This campaign will lead up to the 2019 Downtown Intersections and the Idea Pitch competition.

 

 

Fostering Successful Businesses in Your Community

How can Main Street organizations create a supportive, business-friendly community? 

What are the elements of a community that make it viable to attract business and expansion for the existing ones? 

And what are the trends that best produce the desired entrepreneurial advancement? 

These are some of the questions driving Entrepreneurial Ecosystems in Appalachia, a recently published suite of research reports and resources supporting entrepreneurial ecosystem development in Appalachia. However, the findings are beneficial to more than the southwest corner of Virginia. They are broadly applicable to encourage entrepreneurship and increase the probability of a successful business in your community, too.

The report makes clear that the development and maintenance of robust regional entrepreneurial ecosystems involves a complex mix of culture, history, markets, policy and environmental factors.  Referenced in the report, the Kauffman Foundation has developed “Seven Design Principles for Building Entrepreneurial Ecosystems” that provide excellent guidance and actionable ideas to support the ecosystem:

  1. Put Entrepreneurs Front and Center: Effective ecosystems are led “by and for” entrepreneurs.
  2. Foster Conversations: Effective ecosystems engage multiple partners in conversations that are focused on hope and action.
  3. Enlist Collaborators. Everyone is invited: Effective ecosystems engage partners from all walks of life, multiple disciplines and multiple sectors.
  4. Live the Values: Effective ecosystems do not have a “leader.” They are built on an invisible social contract of shared values.
  5. Connect people bottom-up, top-down, outside-in: Effective ecosystems bridge social boundaries and build tribes of trust.
  6. Tell a Community’s Authentic Story: Effective ecosystems champion role models and create stories out of strength.
  7. Start, be patient: Effective ecosystems take time to build.

The report is part of a larger project entitled Entrepreneurial Ecosystems in Appalachia. Additional project materials can be accessed at www.arc.gov, as well as the project’s website: http://arceco.creconline.org.

For a Main Street-focused guide, check out Main Street America’s Entrepreneurial Ecosystems and the Role of Commercial Districts >>

Autonomous Transit Shuttle Service to Launch in Crozet

The Downtown Crozet Initiative, a DHCD Commercial District Affiliate community organization, is embracing cutting-edge technology to help make visiting downtown a convenient, zero-emission experience, shuttling customers from a parking area into the commercial core.  While it may sound more Jetsons than Main Street, this is the real deal.

Crozet’s Perrone Robotics, Inc., JAUNT, Inc. and Albemarle County just announced a partnership to develop, test and operate the autonomous transit shuttle service pilot. The pilot program will start March 2019 in Crozet with hopes to expand toward Charlottesville, allowing riders to embark and disembark along a fixed route.

Albemarle County Board of Supervisors Chair Ann Mallek shared, “Albemarle County has long supported vibrant communities, and an autonomous, zero-emission transit service brings the promise of reduced parking needs and greater use of green technologies in our urban centers – allowing our community to continue to flourish into the future.”

This is one customer-oriented innovation to watch.  Learn more >>>