The Main Street America network in Wisconsin and beyond

posted by Darrin Wasniewski

We spend a lot of time focusing on the work of our local programs and occasionally reflect upon what is happening at the state level, but are you aware of recent changes at the national level, and in particular with the National Main Street Center?

I (Darrin Wasniewski, downtown development program manager and state Main Street America coordinator) recently had a chance to spend some time with colleagues from around the country for our Fall Coordinators Meeting in Chicago. We gather twice a year in the spring and fall, to receive updates from Patrice Frey, president and CEO of National Main Street Center (NMSC); receive professional development training; and learn from each other. I thought I’d take some time to share a little of what I learned.

But first, some history

Just in case you forgot your Main Street history, I thought I’d take a few moments for a quick primer. It was 1977 and three communities approached the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s (NTHP) Midwest Field Office for some assistance with their downtowns. You see, this was the height of the regional mall boom, and historic downtowns across the country were suffering from a lack of people, businesses and investment. These three communities—located in Illinois, Indiana and South Dakota—knew their historic downtowns were assets, but they lacked the know-how to return their vitality. NTHP took the next three years to bring in experts to study the situation and develop a plan. In 1980, the Main Street movement was born.

Main Street America updates resources

With new direction, the National Main Street Center has been diligently working to supply new or updated support materials for designated Main Street America™ programs. They have also focused on developing a user-friendly web experience, and the fruits of this labor were revealed in the summer of 2017 when the new was launched. The new site’s goal was to bring the resources of a national network into an easy-to-navigate portal. 

The power of video

The medium of video has remarkable power to inform, entertain, persuade and captivate. For evidence of this, look no further than our children. It was an eye-opening moment when I realized that for my own children, it wasn’t movies and shows on Netflix, Hulu and Amazon that were mesmerizing them the most—rather, YouTube was their platform of choice. They’ll watch anything from others playing video games, to product demonstrations, to filmed experiences where they can live vicariously through the screen. As it turns out, our kids are not much different from the average consumer. According to Google, 60 percent of people are watching video when choosing where to travel. In short, video is a must in promoting your district.

November 2017


Prosperity SW Business Development Series (6-8pm, $10)

January 23, Richland Center

February 13, Darlington

March 20, Platteville

April 17, Monroe

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Board Development Training

December 13, Eau Claire

December 15, Watertown

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