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Great Lakes Main Street Conference

About the Conference

“The conference will explore techniques and practices for downtown revitalization and economic development in our communities,” said Jodi Golden, Executive Director of OCRA. “Communities will hear success stories, best practices and innovations from experts from the field focusing on the National Main Street model. We are thrilled to offer an opportunity for our Midwest Main Street partners who may not have the ability to attend the national conference.”

Organized by OCRA, Oakland County Michigan Main Street Program and Downtown South Bend, the conference will bring together leaders in downtown and historic commercial district revitalization from all over the Great Lakes region to highlight asset-based strategies to community and economic development. The conference is scheduled for Monday Aug. 19 and Tuesday, Aug. 20 at the Century Center, in downtown South Bend.

Multi-track sessions were planned throughout the two-day conference focusing on sustainability, economic vitality and cultivating quality places. Local tours and networking opportunities are also components of the conference.

Thank you to all who attended this year's conference! Don't forget, the 2020 Great Lakes Regional Main Street Conference will be held in Downtown Royal Oak, Michigan.

Monday Presentations

9 AM The Power of Place: How Engagement, Happiness and Attachment Will Shape the Midwestern City - Zachary Benedict pdf
10 AM IMPACT Main Street & Transformation Strategies Update (panel) pdf
10 AM Placemaking 101 - OCRA pdf
10 AM Fundraising 101 for Main Streets - Oakland Co. Main Street  pdf
11 AM How to Create and Tell Stories About Your Main Street - Indiana Humanities pdf
11 AM Innovative Approaches to Building and Sustaining Your Main Street Organization  (panel) - Culver & Niles Main Street

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11 AM Quit competing to be the 3rd place - make your downtown that place! - Local Hop pdf
1:30 PM How to Maintain a Sustainable Main Street Organization - National Main Street Center pdf
1:30 PM Tips for Understanding the Economic Impact of Your Local Programs or Initiatives - Jon Stover and Associates pdf
1:30 PM Placemaking & Place Branding: Engage, Transform, Involve & Inspire - Jackson Anchor Initiative & Boom Advertising  pdf
3 PM The How Method for Workplan Development - OCRA pdf
3 PM Building South Bend: Past, Present & Future - South Bend & Notre Dame pdf
3 PM Creating Cultural Communities  - Indiana Arts Commission & OCRA  n/a

Tuesday Presentations

9 AM Using Collective Impact to Boost Your Community - Transform Consulting pdf
9 AM Small Communities, Big “Spark” (Panel) - Rushville & Oxford Main Streets pdf
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9 AM A City Art(fully) Rebuilding Gary, Indiana - Destination Gary pdf
10 AM Mobile Strategies for Main Streets - Shop Loyal & Mainstreet Nation pdf
10 AM Attracting Entrepreneurs to your Community - Greenfield Main Street pdf
10 AM Creating and Implementing a Master Plan for Placemaking - Wabash Marketplace pdf

INspire Idea competition

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. Two $5,000 minimum prizes will be distributed at the Great Lakes Main Street Conference.

After a thorough review, the following Main Street communities have been chosen as finalists:

  • Culver Main Street;
  • Greenfield Main Street;
  • Greater Lafayette Commerce;
  • Heart of Sullivan; and
  • La Porte Economic Advancement Partnership.

Presentations of each project took place during a Great Lakes Main Street conference session. On Aug. 20, it was announced the La Porte Economic Advancement Partnership and the Heart of Sullivan Main Street organizations as recipients of the INspire Idea competition at the Great Lakes Regional Main Street Conference.  Click here to read the full press release.