We’re On The Road to New Bern, NC – The Main Street Conference – March 10-12

 We better be on the road by 7;00 AM, an obscene time for one who hates to go to bed and hates to get up. I want to attend a workshop that starts at 10:oo: #1)Tips for Successful Grant Writing. I know a little bit, but when it comes to my crusade for our Shotgun Houses and Bungalows, I’ve got to get smarter. This session is about grant writing for communities of all sizes and offers best practices and tips on how to write a successful grant application. Attendees will learn how to navigate through the mumbo-jumbo and focus on the most critical parts of the application. I’m determined to enter the grant world if it helps us save our residential architecture with money that is available to Historic Preservation projects. Unfortunately, you can only pick one session for each time slot.

I grew up with alleys in Evanston, IL. and, of course, Chicago’s use of alleys. I’m intrigued that alleys have become significant in the revitalization of communities. I’ve written on the blog about our alleys. I’m pleased to attend #2) Creative Alley Connections. This session will explore how Main Street programs around the state have incorporated paving materials, plantings, water, lighting, and art to build creative alley connections that are places that you want to walk through or even hang out in for a while. Sounds great, doesn’t it?

One of the Keynote talks is on Small-Scale Manufacturing & Main Street: The Secret Sauce  Too many places are stuck with a set of economic development strategies left from the 1980s. People and places are being left behind — but it doesn’t have to be that way. Join this conversation to learn about how we can flip the model on economic development and do it a better way. An approach that invests in people and places. An approach that focuses on actions today and not just long-term plans. This talk will discuss the secret sauce to build a strong and resilient economy through concrete steps that include entrepreneurship, why (and how) to focus on small-scale manufacturing businesses as a catalyst, and how new real estate models for Main Street can be essential to success. You have more assets at your fingertips than you think. Small- scale manufacturing businesses are hidden gems in your community. They are a key ingredient for your main street – one you can mix in immediately!

Several more of the workshops I’ve picked – #3) Creating Great Streets -The guiding principles of great streets create a sense of place that is unique to the community, and a place where you want to live, work and hang out. This session will explore tips that you can take home to ignite your streets and attract people to downtown.


#4) Make Downtown A Destination Through Storytelling  — Branding is perception and perception is reality. The strength of your Downtown’s image is a direct result of how effectively you tell your Main Street District’s story. In this session, marketing and branding expert, David Joyner, will share the why and how to effectively reinvent the perception of your Main Street District. The audience will learn best practices on how to orchestrate and execute effective marketing strategies and tactics to better tell the story of Main Street’s momentum in a way that resonates with your desired audience.

There are several New Bern Tours – I picked Upstairs Downtown —Take a peek at several innovative downtown residential spaces. Spaces include current construction that is transforming unused former offices into second-floor rental apartments as well as fully renovated apartments/condos that include some of the most beautiful residences in New Bern. Inspiration is just a staircase away.

We are on our own for lunches. I am skipping dinners that are extra money and don’t quite float my boat. I’ve googled and found a place for lunch or dinner at a restaurant called Persimmons Waterfront Restaurant on Pollock St. It’s on the water, hopefully, with a New Bern atmosphere, slightly romantic with a breeze and the murmurer of voices over their Sweet Tea. I’m going to use these breaks to wander around and over food, reflect on our Main Street,  and what I am learning at the Main Street Conference. I am taking all of you with me. Let’s hope we return home wiser, filled with information, determined anew.