Main Street Newsletter - May

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Main Street Monthly

A monthly publication from the Office of Community and Rural Affairs

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National Endowment for the Arts announces 2019 Citizens’ Institute on Rural Design

National Endowment for the Arts Director of Design and Creative Placemaking Jennifer Hughes announced today the opening of the 2019 Citizens’ Institute on Rural Design with a call for applications to the program. Since 1991, the National Endowment for the Arts program has offered funding and technical assistance to communities with populations of 50,000 or less to address local challenges related to economic vitality and quality of life through design solutions. The deadline for application is July 22, 2019.

New this year to the CIRD program is a peer learning component for rural leaders that features training in design, planning, community engagement and facilitation techniques as well as support in navigating funding opportunities. The Arts Endowment anticipates funding three local design workshops and up to 20 additional communities in the peer learning program.

Click here to learn more and to apply.

INspire Idea competition now accepting applications


The Office of Community and Rural Affairs is now accepting applications from Indiana Main Street organizations who have inspiring and imaginative downtown revitalization projects in their community.

The goal of the Main Street INspire Idea! competition is to encourage the Indiana Main Street network of communities and professionals to design creative projects for the benefit of their communities. The submitted projects should:

  • Connect to the community’s vision to create vibrant, people-centered places to live, work and invest;
  • Support at least one of the four key points Main Street programs have been using as a guiding framework for nearly 40 years: economic vitality, effective promotion, quality design, and sustainable organization; and
  • Focus on highly visible changes, measuring progress and results that will demonstrate the revitalization effort is successful.

Any active Indiana Main Street community is eligible for the two $5,000 minimum prizes, which will be distributed at the Great Lakes Main Street Conference. All submissions will be reviewed and five finalists will be announced on Friday, July 12, 2019. The finalists will receive two free conference registrations where they will present their projects during one of the sessions.

Apply online by 4 p.m. ET, Friday, June 28, 2019. For more information, visit

Apply for a Downtown Development Week Grant


Downtown Development Week is an opportunity for communities across the state to host events and activities within their downtown and commercial districts, spurring economic development and showcasing updates they have made on the downtown spaces. This year, the week will run from Oct. 7 – 12, 2019.  

To help provide for a planned event or activity, OCRA will be awarding up to five Downtown Development Week promotion grants of up to $1,000 per application and a 50 percent in-kind or cash match is required. Additionally, the event or activity must take place during the week of Oct. 7 – 12, 2019, in the community’s downtown area and be open to the public. Applicants are encouraged to contact their respective community liaison to discuss project eligibility and competitiveness.

Apply online by 4 p.m. ET June 21, 2019.  Funded projects will be announced on Thursday, June 27. To view more information, visit

Register now for the Great Lakes Main Street Conference

We are only 76 days away from the inaugural Great Lakes Main Street Conference! The cost to register is $100 per person. Registration includes attendance to the breakout and keynote sessions, as well as breakfast and refreshments.

The complete agenda can be downloaded here. Below is one of the deep dive sessions that will help you quantify your Main Street's impact to the community:

Leslie Deacon

Tips for Understanding the Economic Impact of Your Local Programs or Initiatives

Leslie Deacon, Stover and Associates, Washington DC

Downtown programs and economic development initiatives support the economy in many ways. This session will offer practical tips on how to understand and quantify the economic impact. Importantly, we will discuss how to leverage this information to improve the effectiveness of programming and bolster fundraising efforts. The goal of this session is to teach about ways economic development programs impact a community, provide tips on how to assess and understand these impacts themselves, and offer recommendations for leveraging this information to improve programmatic decision making. We will engage the audience by asking questions about the audience’s needs, experience, and applicability to measuring economic impact. This topic is important and timely: more funders are looking for economic development programming to be analytical and provide a quantitative assessment of results. This is crucial for communities to evaluate their economic vitality, measure placemaking impacts and sustaining operations.

Important Dates

Friday, June 7 − Main Street Exchange - Brookville

Monday, June 24 − Peer program opens

Friday, June 28 − CDBG Round 1 applications due

View our complete calendar

Last chance to register

Registration for the Brookville Community exchange is still accepting applications! Hosted by Main Street Brookville, Inc the exchange will be held on Friday, June 7 at the Brookville Public Library. Registration and continental breakfast begins at 8:30 a.m. The cost to attend is $30, which includes lunch and refreshments.

Topics for the day include learning how Brookville took advantage of opportunity zone investments and funding; implemented successful public/private partnerships for major downtown redevelopment; and how the downtown survived and thrived during major road construction. More information can be found on the registration page.

National Main Street is looking for photos

The National Main Street Center is looking for images of large retailers on Main Street (franchises, chain stores, gas stations, grocery stores, fast-food restaurants, big box retailers, etc.) that customized the design of their stores to fit in with the surrounding community rather than using their standard, off-the-shelf designs that detract from local character. We are looking for examples of successful adaptive use projects as well as new construction. Please email your photos to for the chance to be featured in an upcoming Main Street publication authored by Ed McMahon, ULI Senior Resident Fellow and NMSC Board Chair.

Crowdsourced ideas for third places

from Small Biz Survival

Get ready for a dozen ideas for making a better third place.  At the Main Street Now conference, I sat in on a session about coffee shops. I wrote down bunches of ideas that the audience shared. I thought you might know a coffee shop person, or you might think of ways to use these with other types of small town businesses.

  • Hold trivia nights or allow groups to meet in your space to drive more business;
  • Start a book club;
  • Tell the story online about your history and how were you founded;
  • Leverage your relationships with other businesses to put together a tour;
  • Host readings, where customers share their writings;
  • Host adult coloring groups or game nights to bring in evening customers; and
  • Display coffee mugs from all the different businesses in town.

Be a part of a national network of Main Streets. Visit or call (312) 619-5611 to join Main Street America.