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Main Street Conference to bring 700 visitors in downtown Salisbury

By Liz Moomey

SALISBURY — Downtown Salisbury will be on display for the 2019 North Carolina Main Street Conference Tuesday through Thursday.

Visitors interested in a small town’s downtown development with a historic preservation aspect will get a taste through various workshops, tours and keynote speeches. Salisbury was last a Main Street Conference host in 2013.

“This is an opportunity to showcase what projects we have completed, as well as new ones that are underway, since the last time Salisbury hosted the conference in 2013,” Larissa Harper, the Downtown Salisbury Inc. executive director. “Part of the education for the attendees will be learning the ins-and-outs of how to repurpose or rehabilitate vacant downtown buildings.”

For 10 months, the Downtown Development Department staff and Downtown Salisbury Inc. board and committee members have been planning for the conference. The conference is expected to be the highest attended N.C. Main Street Conference in its 19-year history, which brings elected officials, downtown development professionals, downtown directors, municipal staff and industry professionals from the state and also Virginia and South Carolina.

“Salisbury is a tremendous host city for the NC Main Street Conference,” Elizabeth Parham, director of NC Main Street & Rural Planning Center, said in a statement. “As one of the first North Carolina Main Street communities and one of the first to be designated in the country, Salisbury is the epitome of what a Main Street community is; a strong public-private partnership that develops innovative economic development strategies and initiatives.”

During breakout tours on Tuesday, visitors will get the opportunity to go on walking tours, including one on The Empire Redevelopment Story led by developer Britt Weaver and Mix It Up With Upper Story Residential Development with owners of several downtown mixed-use apartments.

On Wednesday at 6 p.m., the Main Street Champion will be awarded at the Norvell Theater. At the last Salisbury hosted Main Street Conference, Pete Bogle was recognized as the champion.

Nicole Leinbach Reihe, the founder of RetailMinded.com, will speak about Retail Realities: 10 Must Know Strategies to Help Downtown Thrive on Tuesday and Ken Anderson, the director of small businesses and entrepreneurial services at Delaware Economic Development Office, will give a speech on “Make Sure the Dog Wants to Eat the Dog Food”: Ways to Enhance Downtown Entrepreneurial Business Success on Wednesday.

The conference agenda provides various opportunities for visitors to venture to downtown shop and eat out for lunch and dinner. After the conference ends Thursday at noon, visitors may also hang around in downtown Salisbury.

“The influx of visitors will not only serve as an opportunity to showcase what makes the community an original, but will also provide a substantial economic impact from increased visitor spending at local restaurants, shops and lodging businesses,” James Meacham, the CEO of Rowan Tourism, said in a statement.  

Tuesday’s sessions include:

  • Thinking About Main Street?: Charles Halsall, the coordinator of downtown programming and technical assistance at North Carolina Main Street and Rural Planning Center, will speak about becoming a member of the downtown Associate Community program to aid with downtown revitalization.
  • Main Street Solutions Fund Workshop: Liz Parham, the director of North Carolina Main Street and Rural Planning Center, will provide information about the technical assistance and coordinating grant program through the Department of Commerce.
  • Designing for Downtown: Speakers from UNC Greensboro Department of Interior Architecture will talk about approaching downtown design improvements while maintaining historic preservation and architectural character.
  • Opportunity Zones for Downtown: The new North Carolina Opportunity Zones may be a way to receive federal tax incentives to finance downtown projects.
  • Mix It Up With Upper Story Residential Development
  • The Empire Redevelopment Story
  • Brewbury Tour: Vistors can hear from the owners of Morgan Ridge Railwalk Brewery & Eatery and New Sarum brewery.
  • Downtown Salisbury Sculpture Tour: Attendees can walk around to 18 of the 23 sculptures in  downtown.
  • Historic Salisbury Trolley Tour: Narrators will showcase historical sites, including the original Cheerwine building, the Salisbury National Cemetery and site of the only Civil War prison in North Carolina.
  • Historical Theater Tour: Visitors will walk around to The Meroney Theater, a playhouse dating back to the early 1900s, The Norvell, a children’s theater, and Lee Street theatre, a black-box theater in a converted warehouse.

Wednesday’s sessions include:

  • 10 Icebergs That Will Sink Your Projects: Main Street experts talk maintaining clear goals and anticipated outcomes
  • Living It Up Downtown
  • Marketing on a Dime: Practical Ways to Gain Attention & Increase Sales in 2019
  • How to Increase the Economic Impact of Your Festival or Special Event
  • Community Playbook for Better Broadband
  • Who’s Next in Line for the Throne?, which will focus on a succession plan for downtown organizations
  • From Vacant Space to Open for Business, where Anderson will speak about two of Delaware’s successful program
  • How to Solicit Sponsors and What to Do Once You Have Them: Lynn Fuhler, of Flying Compass, Inc., will speak about getting event sponsors.
  • Is Your Downtown Getting Your Down? with DSI Director Larissa Harper will speak about how to boost a downtown.
  • Downtown Strong = Hometown Strong: the new initiative of North Carolina Department of Commerce’s NC Main Street & Planning Center explained.
  • If I Had a Million Dollars: Meg Dees, the interim vice president of development at Catawba College and former state and local Main Street staff member, speaks on tools to use funds more effectively.
  • Why and How the Historic Preservation Tax Credit Program Works for US — A NC Downtown Development Association Perspective: will describe the program’s economic impact and importance of reaching out to legislators in support of the state tax credit program.
  • Gravitate People Downtown & Use Science to Help You!: speakers will discuss using STEM educational programs to bring people downtown.
  • Finding and Cultivating Visionary Entrepreneurs: Kinston’s entrepreneurs will talk about creating innovative business destinations.
  • Private Spaces, Beautiful Places: Activating Your Storefront by David Maurer, architect with Maurer Architecture

Registration is $255. As of Saturday, the keynotes, welcome reception on Tuesday night, champion ceremony and some breakout sessions and tours have been sold out.

For more information or to register, visit www.ncmainstreetconference.com.



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