Goldsboro to Host Largest Downtown Revitalization Conference in the U.S.

The conference offers the most successful implementation strategies for downtown revitalization and redevelopment.

Chris Bushnell
March 6, 2024
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This is a reprint of a press release issued by the North Carolina Department of Commerce.

The 2024 North Carolina Main Street Conference is bringing community and economic development leaders together March 12-14 in downtown Goldsboro. The three-day annual conference, which is organized by the North Carolina Department of Commerce and its N.C. Main Street and Rural Planning Center, examines downtown revitalization and economic development strategies.

The theme of this year’s conference, “Ignite, Activate, and Empower…Main Street,” is an exploration of the most innovative approaches communities around the state take to accomplish their goals. From award-winning rehabilitation to memorable public art, downtowns are ignited with design improvements that energize local residents and visitors seeking to experience genuine, creative environments. Through storytelling, pop-up shops, and locally driven marketplaces, districts are activated by fresh marketing initiatives, events, and businesses designed to encourage downtown exploration. Together, through both leadership and partnerships, residents are empowered to invest time and money in their communities, resulting in lasting positive change.

The North Carolina Main Street Conference is the largest statewide downtown revitalization conference in the country. Attendees include downtown economic development professionals, elected officials and local government staff, rural leaders, volunteers, business and property owners, consultants, vendors, and sponsors. Participants come curious in downtown redevelopment strategies, and leave inspired by North Carolina’s latest trends, initiatives, and success stories, ready to maximize revitalization efforts back home.

The conference offers the most successful implementation strategies for downtown revitalization and redevelopment available in the state, the Southeast, and, perhaps, in the nation. Thought-provoking keynote addresses and engaging breakout sessions with experienced presenters will inspire attendees with fresh ideas for downtown revitalization in their communities.

This year’s conference will feature the following keynote speakers:

• Hannah Love, Fellow with the Brookings Metro, Anne T. and Robert M Bass Center, presenting Investing in Transformative Placemaking for Downtown Prosperity; and

• Jon Schallert, President of the Schallert Group, presenting The Power of Uniqueness: The Key to a Destination Downtown.

In addition to the downtown placemaking keynotes, the conference plenary speakers include:

• Erin Barnes, President and CEO of Main Street America, presenting Place Matters;

• Vernice Miller Travis, Executive Vice President for Environmental Justice at the Metropolitan Group and Irvin Henderson, Principal with Henderson and Company, and Main Street America board member presenting Better Together: Expanding Ownership and Equity in North Carolina’s Main Streets; and

• Mary Helmer With, President and State Coordinator of Main Street Alabama, presenting Advocacy - Why You Need a Great Story.

The conference will include 27 downtown toolkit and breakout sessions that cover a wide range of downtown revitalization topics and seven tours of downtown Goldsboro for first-hand look at the Main Street community’s vibrancy.

This milestone event will be held in downtown Goldsboro, North Carolina, as it proudly celebrates 40 years as an exemplary Main Street community. In that time, Goldsboro learned the importance of partnerships, preservation, strategic planning, incremental growth, and, most importantly, using the Main Street framework to encourage collaboration and innovation with the private sector. As a result, Goldsboro has a vibrant, pedestrian-driven, art-centric community and a downtown committed to inclusive design and historic preservation.

Located in eastern North Carolina, Goldsboro is home to Seymour Johnson Air Force Base. With its walkable public spaces, historic train station, and proudly displayed memorial F-86 Sabre jet, downtown Goldsboro is leveraging its assets for economic prosperity in the commercial core. As a result, downtown Goldsboro has realized close to $80 million in public and private investment in the last decade, 187 building rehabilitations, 78 net new businesses, and 430 new jobs, with more to come. Today, downtown Goldsboro is a thriving, engaged community, with an abundance of diverse small businesses, public art exhibits, and cultural events. Goldsboro leaders are proud of the city’s history and the investments they are making in its future as a hub for arts, culture, and entrepreneurship.

The annual North Carolina Main Street Awards Ceremony will be held on Wednesday, March 13 and the Main Street Champions Recognition Ceremony will be held on Thursday, March 14. These two events recognize outstanding projects completed in Main Street downtowns throughout the state and honor individuals dedicated to making their downtowns thrive.

For more information or to register, visit the N.C. Main Street Conference website.

Chris Bushnell

Chris Bushnell joined Wooten in fall 2020 as the marketing communications specialist.

Chris Bushnell joined Wooten in fall 2020 as the marketing communications specialist.