Think Change: Think Main Street

NC Main Street Conference 2018

George Bernard Shaw once said, “Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.”

Change represents one of the eight guiding principles of the Main Street program.  It may also be the most difficult of the principles for a community to achieve.  Communities change at different rates and different speeds.  Some embrace change more quickly, while others do so at a much slower pace.  However, all have an underlying Main Street foundation that supports the changes they seek for their downtown districts.

The Main Street foundation that supports change includes a solid vision for downtown, a sustainable organization made up of a strong board and volunteer team, an understanding of realistic development opportunities, and quality physical improvements that highlight the unique architecture and businesses in each community.  There is also a system of codes and ordinances in place that supports the vision, and incentives to bring change to fruition.

The 2018 North Carolina Main Street conference will offer attendees tools to put in their downtown toolkits, such as quality design and historic preservation initiatives, funding options, and economic development strategies that will transform downtown districts.  The keynote and breakout sessions will feature 21st-century economic development and downtown trends, entrepreneurship, branding, social media, and much more.  Attendees will hear from some of the state’s most inspiring change agents, including committed Main Street Champions and city, town, and county managers, as they convey what it takes to build partnerships for vibrant communities.

Clayton, NC, a town that has more than doubled in population since 2000, will serve as the host community for this year’s conference.  Just 20 minutes from Raleigh, it is home to some of the world’s largest companies, including Grifols, Novo Nordisk, Caterpillar, and Bayer.  Growth and investment are most evident in downtown Clayton where, in the last decade, the town government and businesses have successfully partnered to preserve small-town charm while investing more than $20 million in revitalization projects ranging from a booming brewery in an old cotton mill and modern offices in a 1920’s Ford dealership, to jazz-infused cocktail lounges and rooftop dining restaurants in previously-abandoned Main Street storefronts.  Clayton also gets it when it comes to arts and culture, supporting inclusive and collaborative projects such as a sculpture trail that receives an annual makeover and a public greenway system.  The conference will be headquartered downtown at The Clayton Center, which is composed of two beautifully restored school buildings that now serve as a performing arts venue and Town Hall.  Clayton is buzzing with progressive new projects and a thriving art and small business community, making it the perfect place to build connections, share great ideas, and think change during the 2018 North Carolina Main Street conference.




Conference Registration

The Clayton Center / Clayton Town Hall, 111 East Second Street



Shop and Explore downtown Clayton



Downtown Toolkit Sessions


Downtown Toolkit Session #1

Preventing Demolition by Neglect

Deteriorated buildings with disengaged owners can be a drag on Main Street vitality.  Neglected long enough, buildings become unsafe, perhaps leading to demolition and loss of community architectural resources.  Sometimes, attempts to talk owners into making improvements are not enough to prompt remedial action and code enforcement is required.  Learn how to protect important Main Street structures by establishing and using a demolition by neglect ordinance.  This session will cover the legal and economic hardship principles that ensure fairness and equity, address how to develop defensible standards, and offer practical advice on leveraging community collaboration and supporting enforcement officials.

Dan Becker, Main Street Grants Administrator, NC Main Street & Rural Planning Center                              


Downtown Toolkit Session #2

Designing for Downtown

Because quality design is essential to a thriving downtown, design is one of the four points of the Main Street program.  The Main Street approach to downtown design improvements is made with respect to historic preservation and the architectural character of each building.  The NC Main Street & Rural Planning Center partners with the UNCG Department of Interior Architecture to offer Main Street and Small Town Main Street communities façade improvement designs and upper story residential conversion schematics that are in keeping with the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation.  Learn about the services of the UNCG Main Street Fellows, see before and after examples, and hear about the impact that good quality façade improvements have on downtown businesses and districts.

Jo Ramsay Leimenstoll, AIA, Professor, UNCG Department of Interior Architecture

Emily-Kate Hannapel, UNCG Main Street Fellow

Torrey Orlopp, UNCG Main Street Fellow


Downtown Toolkit Session #3

Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credits

Downtown’s most important redevelopment tool is the Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit program.  Hear about the tax credits and the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation.  Property owners, developers, consultants, and downtown administrators and proponents will gain a better understanding of the parameters of the state’s programs for income-producing properties and homeowners.  In addition, attendees will learn how the State Historic Preservation Office and the National Park Service apply the Standards when reviewing projects and how to maintain the historic integrity of historic property that will undergo a rehabilitation.      

Tim Simmons, Senior Preservation Architect, North Carolina State Historic Preservation Office

Jeff Adolphsen, Senior Restoration Specialist, North Carolina State Historic Preservation Office


Downtown Toolkit Session #4

Plan for Your Economic Success

The difference between a good community and a great community is a plan.  Economically successful communities have an asset-based economic development plan that guides their investments of both time and financial resources.  The NC Main Street & Rural Planning Center works in regions, counties, cities, towns, downtown districts, and in designated North Carolina Main Street communities, to inspire placemaking through building asset-based economic development strategies that achieve measurable results such as investment, business growth, and jobs.  Learn how your community can benefit from these services.

Darren Rhodes, Rural Planning Program Manager, NC Main Street & Rural Planning Center

Karen Smith, AICP, Coordinator of Rural Planning Services, NC Main Street & Rural Planning Center

Lee Padrick, Chief Planner, NC Main Street & Rural Planning Center


Downtown Toolkit Session #5

Show Me the State Money

One of the keys to successful downtown revitalization projects is being able to identify and acquire financial resources to get them done.  State funds are often used to leverage private funds.  This session is designed to give attendees an overview of some of the state resources that are available to local communities.  Learn more about programs from the North Carolina Departments of Commerce and Natural & Cultural Resources.  Meet the program directors and coordinators, and gain a better understanding of the types of projects that can be funded, the requirements of the programs, and the timelines and capacities of available resources.

Liz Parham, Director, NC Main Street & Rural Planning Center

Melody Adams, Director of Rural Grant Programs at the N.C. Department of Commerce

Hazel Edmond, Program Manager for Rural Building Reuse at the N. C. Department of Commerce

Leigh Ann Wilder, Creative Economies Director, North Carolina Arts Council



Time with Exhibitors

Mingle with representatives from Main Street communities across the state while exploring the offerings of various N.C. Main Street Conference vendors.

The Clayton Center / Clayton Town Hall, 111 East Second Street



Downtown Clayton Tours

The Clayton Center / Clayton Town Hall, 111 East Second Street


Think Art.  Public Art for Vibrant Placemaking

This tour will take you on a walkthrough of Clayton’s most successful public art project, the Downtown Clayton Sculpture Trail.  The sculptures, which are replaced annually, are selected by a committee of local artists, downtown business owners, and residents from submissions by artists from all over the country.  Tour guides will describe each sculpture on the trail, and explain the process for getting them to downtown.  They will also discuss how the project is funded, who administers the call for artists and selection process, and what role the Public Art Advisory Board plays.


Think Nightlife.  Downtown Clayton’s Renaissance

Tour vibrant food, shopping, and nightlife establishments that have reactivated vacant and underused properties.  This tour will walk you through five historic buildings occupied by some of the most popular hangout spots in Downtown Clayton.  Guides will highlight the history of the buildings and describe the partnerships that gave them new life.


Think Culture.  Historic Renovation for Civic Center Revitalization

Take a closer look at The Clayton Center by touring old school buildings that were transformed into Clayton’s Town Hall and a premier performing arts center.  Tour guides will explain the fundraising process, the renovations, and other interesting historical and architectural facts about the property.  Then, walk a couple of blocks to the former Town Hall building, which is being renovated through a public/private partnership into the newest apartments in Downtown Clayton.


Think Drink. Barrels and Stills

This tour will take you through Clayton’s historic cotton mill, which has been transformed by its newest tenant, and now owner, Deep River Brewing Company.  Learn about the history of the property, its conversion from an empty industrial space to a popular brewery and new distillery, and how it became one of Downtown Clayton’s most prominent gathering spaces for families and friends.


Think Repurposed.  Modern Workspace from Local Historic Landmarks

Take a walk through 10,000 square feet of modern, open, office space built inside one of Downtown Clayton’s historic buildings.  Constructed in 1921 as the town’s first car dealership, the building later housed the North Carolina Paper Company.  Its open workspaces, glass conference rooms overlooking Main Street, and rooftop hangout with a view of Clayton’s Town Square, serves three diverse companies with 60 employees.  Two blocks down the street, visit a long-time jewelry store turned modern, collaborative workspace that also features one of Clayton’s most unique architectural features – a classic neon sign.



Conference Opens

Opening Remarks

The Clayton Center / Clayton Town Hall, 111 East Second Street

Liz Parham, Director, NC Main Street & Rural Planning Center



The Clayton Story




The Future of the American Downtown

The Main Street Movement fosters innovation and revitalization in communities across the nation.  Join Ben Muldrow as he discusses current trends and future changes that could revolutionize our nation’s downtowns.  This fast-paced presentation is sure to get you excited about the changes happening on Main Street.



Welcome Reception with the Exhibitors

Mingle with representatives from Main Street communities across the state while exploring the offerings of various N.C. Main Street Conference exhibitors. Refreshments and entertainment provided.

The Clayton Center / Clayton Town Hall, 111 East Second Street



Dinner on Your Own




Conference Registration

The Clayton Center / Clayton Town Hall, 111 East Second Street



Welcome and Conference Announcements

Liz Parham, Director, NC Main Street & Rural Planning Center

The Clayton Center / Clayton Town Hall, 111 East Second Street



Time with Exhibitors

Mingle with representatives from Main Street communities across the state while exploring the offerings of various N.C. Main Street Conference vendors.

The Clayton Center / Clayton Town Hall, 111 East Second Street



Break-Out Sessions


Money Talk

Does your program need money?  Are you losing support from your long-time funding sources?  Presenter Liz Parham will lead this session geared toward establishing programs that want to grow their income sources.  Learn about traditional and not so traditional sources of funding, and find out how to position your organization to acquire more money.  Discover how sustainable downtown programs are using a variety of funding sources to accomplish their goals.

Liz Parham, CMSM, Director, NC Main Street & Rural Planning Center



Lighter, Cheaper, Quicker

Do budget constraints cause your organization to avoid or postpone projects that would enhance the appeal and vibrancy of downtown?  City of Goldsboro Downtown Director Julie Metz and NC Main Street & Rural Planning Center Downtown Programming and Technical Assistance Coordinator Charles Halsall, Jr., will demonstrate how even the simplest of design projects can make a significant difference, particularly if they are fresh, collaborative, and well-integrated.  Using examples of projects from throughout the state, session participants will learn the positive impacts and outcomes that design improvements have on downtowns and will leave with 15 easy improvements that they can implement when they return home.

Julie Metz, Downtown Development Director, City of Goldsboro

Chuck Halsall, Coordinator, Downtown Programming & Technical Assistance, NC Main Street & Rural Planning Center



Top 10 Tips of Creating an Entrepreneurial Downtown

Downtown organizations are charged with creating economic development strategies, programs, and projects that will transform their downtown districts.  Some have been developing robust initiatives through public and private partnerships to spur sustainable entrepreneurial development.  Three downtown economic development professionals will present creative and innovative ideas to develop such things as co-working spaces, venture labs, maker spaces, accelerator programs, and entrepreneurial training programs.  If business development is a top priority for your downtown, you will not want to miss this engaging session.

Sherry B. Adams, CMSM, Coordinator, Downtown Programming & Technical Assistance, NC Main Street & Rural Planning Center

Freddie Killough Executive Director  Marion Business Association, Economic Development, City of Marion

Dwight Bassett, Economic Development Officer, Town of Chapel Hill

Crystal Morphis, CEcD,  Founder and CEO, Creative Economic Development Consulting, LLC



Brand Score

You have an amazing logo.  You have been through branding.  Now what?  This simple, self-scoring, system will help you understand where you are, what low hanging fruit will help you increase your score, and how to generate some new ideas for promoting your organization and highlighting your events!

Ben Muldrow, Partner, Arnett Muldrow & Associates



Lunch on Your Own



Time with Exhibitors

Mingle with representatives from Main Street communities across the state while exploring the offerings of various N.C. Main Street Conference vendors.

The Clayton Center / Clayton Town Hall, 111 East Second Street



Break-Out Sessions Continue



Marvelous Managers of Change

Since the inception of the Main Street program in the late 1970s, the foundation for success has been public-private partnerships.  Time has shown that the more robust the partnership, the greater the success of the downtown revitalization effort.  Often at the heart of those partnerships are city, town, and county managers.  With the backing of their governing boards, marvelous managers work to provide human and financial resources to projects as investments in change.  Without the support of managers, nothing will happen.  However, with their support, everything can happen.  Hear city, town, and county managers share why they support downtown revitalization, what government partners need, and how to grow a more robust partnership with your own local government leaders.

Brian Borne,  CMSM, MBA, BLA, Assistant City Manager/ Director of Downtown, City of Monroe

Anne-Marie Knight, Town Manager, Town of Edenton

Sally Sandy, City Manager, City of Morganton

Robert Davie, County Manager, Warren County



10 Strategies for Creating Place

Drawing from project experience and personal inspiration, a team of landscape architects will present their top ten strategies for creating

place in downtowns.  The speakers will share strategies that are easy to implement, stimulate creativity, and are inspired by the people and unique qualities, character, and brand intrinsic to a given community.  The presentation will focus on actions that result in the quality of place, a version of “sense of place” that emphasizes the individual and collective community as active participants in the development of spaces that contribute to overall happiness, health, and well-being.  Attendees will leave the presentation with tools to implement positive change in their communities.

Rachel Cotter, Principal Landscape Architect, Planning + Design, McAdams

Dan Lambert, PLA, ASLA, Principal Landscape Architect, McAdams



Business Assistance in the Age of Amazon

Poor sales and shuttered locations are becoming all too common in many shopping districts as businesses scramble to compete with changing consumer habits and growing competition from online retailers.  What does competing in the “New Normal” age of e-commerce mean for downtown businesses?  What can downtown organizations do to support independent retailers and help them better navigate a marketplace that is changing at a dizzying speed?  During this session, we will review retail trends, strategies, and tips for developing a more effective business assistance program that can help businesses survive in an increasingly complex world.

Hilary Greenberg, President, Greenberg Development Services



How to Train Yourself to Think Like a Marketer

Marketing is a constantly changing industry where what was hot one day is old news the next.  Don’t get bogged down in reading article after article on “social media tips and tricks” or “how to optimize your content online.”  All you have to do is change your mindset to think like a marketer.  In this session, you’ll learn how to Talk the Talk and Walk the Walk with basic marketing terminology that will make it seem like you know it all, even if you don’t.  You’ll gain insight into how to create campaigns, analyze data, and get engagement online.  It will be a fun and exciting session that will leave you bursting with new ideas for your community or organization.

Leniece Lane, Lover, and Promoter of All Things Local, Small Town Soul and McConnell Group Public Relations, Inc.



Time with Exhibitors

Mingle with representatives from Main Street communities across the State while exploring the offerings of various N.C. Main Street Conference vendors.

The Clayton Center / Clayton Town Hall, 111 East Second Street



Break-Out Sessions Continue



It Takes a Champion

It is often said that it takes a champion to do great things.  That is certainly true in downtown revitalization.  Every great success story has one common thread – a local champion that leads a project to success.  In this session, you will hear from some of North Carolina’s most outstanding Main Street Champions.  They will share why they became champions for their communities and their thoughts on finding and cultivating champions for change, growing community leadership, and creating a successful downtown environment that results in investment, business development, and jobs.

Michael Grannis, downtown business owner, Mayor Pro Tem of Clayton

Margaret Kluttz, downtown property owner, former Mayor of Salisbury

David Joyner, President, Joyner Media Strategies

Dee Dee Perkins, Founder and Co-owner, D.D. Bullwinkel’s, LLC



Farm to Downtown

Consumer preferences for locally-sourced food products have spurred downtown growth with a range of economic activities including farm-to-table restaurants, craft breweries, farmers markets, community gardens, and more.  There are inspiring examples from throughout the state and the nation on how food has transformed downtowns and created multiplier effects from related business investment.  This session will explore different opportunities in the food economy, share lessons learned in developing them, and explore how your community can position itself for an appropriate and successful start-up or keep the food scene thriving.

Annette Dunlap, Agribusiness Developer, Division of Marketing, North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services

Chef Joseph Fasy, Owner, Hook and Cleaver Market on Broad

Carol Peppe Hewitt, Executive Director, Slow Money NC

Jenn Sanford-Johnson, Owner/Operator, Chickadee Farms



Kickin’ It with Social Media

In this session, we will explore the power of social media as a means of communication using current research findings to focus on the most efficient ways to spread your message, increase your audience, and attract customers.  We will discuss low and/or no-cost ways to creatively increase your brand recognition and to energize your interactions with your audience and beyond.  The session will include a review of theory and practice regarding the effective use of social media by organizations and will address social media policy regarding the management of contributors and content.

Karen Lee, Talent Development Manager, North Carolina Department of Commerce



Business Bundling for Change

Successful communities are transforming their economies through authentic development of their richest economic, natural, and cultural assets, and leveraging and expanding those assets into a vibrant community and business economic activities.  In this session, attendees will learn how communities are bundling complementary businesses to develop economic development strategies, using cross-promotion and marketing initiatives, and creating value-added goods and services that benefit their customers. You will hear from economic development professionals and an experienced Main Street director, and you’ll go home with the tools to transform your community.

Billy Parrish, Principal, Billy Parrish Consulting

Diane Young, Executive Director, Concord Downtown Development Corporation

Lee Anne Nance, Stewart, Chief Strategic Officer   Brand and Market Development, Stewart



Planning for the Unexpected

Carolina Small Business Development Fund, a nonprofit and certified Community Development Finance Institution, fosters economic development by providing capital, business services, and policy research to support small businesses.  Representatives will present Disaster Relief and Resiliency Planning information and provide details about three main disaster funding sources available for this target market: EDA Revolving Loan Fund, Golden Leaf Disaster Recovery Loan, and a new state grant opportunity (Disaster Relief Grant) through which loan funds will be matched/leveraged with forgivable grant funds for eligible projects.  Attendees will leave with information pertaining to access to capital and technical assistance resources for entrepreneurs and small businesses throughout North Carolina.

Lenwood V. Long, Sr.  President/CEO  Carolina Small Business Development Fund

Scott Wolford / Associate Director of Business Development Carolina Small Business Development Fund




21st Century Economic Development

This session will address the latest trends in land use, real estate, and economic development.  It will explore the role of placemaking and historic preservation in 21stcentury economic development and how small communities can grow and prosper in a rapidly changing world.

Ed McMahon, Senior Resident Fellow, Urban Land Institute



Thursday Evening Options

Dinner on Your Own


Annual North Carolina Main Street Awards Buffet Dinner and Ceremony

The Clayton Center / Clayton Town Hall, 111 East Second Street

 A Main Street Special Event Symbol

Outstanding projects from state’s Main Street communities will be honored.  This is a separately ticketed event and requires advance payment (see registration form).





NC Main Street Champions & Guests Check In

The Clayton Center / Clayton Town Hall, 111 East Second Street



NC Main Street Champions Continental Breakfast

The Clayton Center / Clayton Town Hall, 111 East Second Street

There is no cost for the breakfast, but it does require advance registration. (see registration form).



2017 Honor Roll of Main Street Champions



Closing Remarks

Liz Parham, Director, NC Main Street & Rural Planning Center


Conference Registration Questions?

Contact Our Registration Coordinator:
Sharon Tripp
(919) 280-4018




Conference Countdown!








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