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!

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 >>>

Small Business Resource Guide now available

The Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) has developed a Small Business Resource Guide that provides information on many of the items that new or expanding small businesses and entrepreneurs need. This includes financing programs, grant programs, business development resources and training opportunities, as well as university entrepreneurship programs that are available to the public.

The guide is a living document, so it will be updated often as new programs and resources become available or we are made aware of appropriate available resources. The guide can be found on the Resources and Reports page of the Virginia Main Street blog, or click here for a copy.

If you know of a great resource – federal, state, regional or local – that should be added, please let us know!

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 >>>