Greetings from your downtown development team! We trust your 2015 is starting off with much anticipation of all the potential in the coming year. Speaking of potential, you may have noticed that InterSections is something new.

Last August, our team assessed our current offerings and identified new opportunities we could offer you, our downtown development tribe. One initiative was to launch a downtown development e-newsletter. Our goals with this project are:

  • To keep you apprised of events and happenings;
  • To provide information and case studies pertinent to your revitalization efforts (so go ahead—if you see something you like, feel free to use it in your own communications);
  • And to lead by example in communicating with your stakeholders.

So, here's what to expect. We will distribute a monthly e-newsletter which should arrive in your inbox around the middle of the month. (This will be on a Tuesday or Thursday. Why? Stay tuned for a future edition for the answer.) Each month, our IN THE KNOW section will rotate among the four points of the Main Street approach—design, economic restructuring, organization and promotion. We will also include upcoming events and a featured tip relating to the focus area covered.

If you have suggestions for a topic you would like to see covered in future editions, just shoot me an email.

Wishing you much success in your district revitalization efforts,



In the first issue of InterSections, we'll take a look at professional development for your staff. Today, there is a more focused effort on talent development than ever before. Organizations (both for-profit and for-impact) understand that in order to thrive, they must invest in their talent. There are ways that you can provide professional development, some at little to no cost.

Wisconsin Main Street offers multiple trainings a year focused on historic commercial district revitalization, as do the National Main Street Center, Wisconsin Downtown Action Council, International Downtown Association and Wisconsin Economic Development Association. With some of these trainings, you may incur just travel expenses, but others may have registration fees. Assistance may be available for these expenses. For example, Wisconsin Main Street covers registration costs to the National Main Streets Conference for Main Street programs in their first five years, and sometimes offers scholarships to others as well. Additionally, a community foundation may offer a capacity building grant.

But let's face it—conference registration is usually the least expensive part of attending a conference. Travel, lodging, meals and other expenses add up very quickly. So how else could you offer your staff that much-needed professional development without breaking the bank? In this article for Stanford Social Innovation Review, author James W. Shepard Jr. suggests "stretch" assignments on the job provide some of the learning opportunities. This is based on the 70/20/10 model for learning and development, which states the following:

"Seventy percent of learning happens on the job through carefully chosen 'stretch' assignments, 20 percent happens as managers and peers help employees succeed in those assignments, and only 10 percent happens through formal training."

So, would you like to provide learning opportunities for your staff? Brainstorm as a board about how you can help them acquire new skills while on the job, which will increase employee satisfaction and help move your organization forward.

Do you have any experience with creating staff "stretch" assignments? We'd love to hear about your experiences. Send us an e-mail and tell us all about it.