Downtown Salisbury prepared to host next month’s Main Street Conference

Published 12:00 am Friday, February 22, 2019

SALISBURY — In less than a month, Salisbury will host this year’s North Carolina Main Street Conference.

On March 12-14, more than 600 visitors are projected to travel here to learn about how downtown has been developed while keeping its historical charm.

“Folks just love to come see our historic preservation and our downtown that is lively and (they) want to replicate or find out how we’ve done what we’ve done so they can take it back to their town and do something similar to help revive their downtowns,” said Larissa Harper, executive director of Downtown Salisbury Inc.

As DSI staff and the organization’s board completes plans for the conference, they are looking for a couple more local sponsors at the $500 level and volunteers. So far, about 75 volunteers have signed up.

Diane Young, a DSI board member, said the number of volunteers is impressive, especially after receiving help from the Rowan County Chamber of Commerce and Historic Salisbury Foundation. But the North Carolina Main Street Center estimates this year’s conference will have its highest attendance, and it is hoping to have about 140 volunteers total. Volunteers will be tasked with anything from holding a sign for a tour of the Empire Hotel to cleaning up after the awards dinner at Norvell Theater.

The Main Street Conference will give participants a glimpse into development projects from start to finish. Salisbury previously was the host in 2013. So, returning visitors will be able to see completed projects.

“What’s wonderful about these attendees is they want to see things as they’re happening,” Harper said. “They don’t just want to see the finished product.”

“A lot of attendees come back, so they’re going to see a lot of projects completed and a downtown that’s in transition,” Young added.

Tours of the Empire Hotel will be given by developer Britt Weaver, and plans for the Bell Tower Green park will be discussed. Young said Salisbury is known for its private-public partnerships that are large in scale. 

“A lot of towns would love to see these type of projects happen in their communities, and so they’ll be asking questions about how do we get this done, who all does it take and what partnerships must come together to do this,” Harper said.

Young expects downtown to be jam-packed during the three-day conference with participants visiting restaurants and venturing about.

“The economic impact of the conference will be staggering,” she said.

All in all, Harper said the city is prepared to host the conference.

“We are mostly finished with tying up loose ends and ready for these folks to come enjoy downtown Salisbury and gain the best education in downtown development at this annual conference,” Harper said.

To volunteer, contact Young or Latoya Price, DSI’s marketing and events coordinator, at or

For more information about the conference, visit