Raleigh, N.C.

North Carolina communities will gather in Clayton on March 13–15 for the Department of Commerce’s annual NC Main Street conference, coordinated by the NC Main Street & Rural Planning Center. The three-day conference theme - Think Change: Think Main Street, is an exploration of ways that North Carolina communities are effectively changing their local economy. The conference is open to anyone interested in downtown revitalization and economic development strategies.

The 2018 conference will offer attendees tools to help transform their downtown districts, such as quality design and historic preservation initiatives, funding options and creative revitalization strategies. The keynote and breakout sessions will feature entrepreneurship, branding, social media and more. Attendees will hear from some of the state’s inspiring leaders, including committed Main Street Champions and city, town and county managers. These speakers will share how they create partnerships for vibrant communities.

The host town, Clayton, is one of these vibrant Main Street communities. In the last decade, Clayton government and businesses have successfully partnered to preserve small-town charm while investing more than $20 million in revitalization projects ranging from a brewery in an old cotton mill and modern offices in a 1920’s Ford dealership to jazz cocktail lounges and rooftop restaurants in previously-abandoned Main Street storefronts.

The conference will be held downtown at The Clayton Center, which is composed of two beautifully restored school buildings that now serve as a performing arts venue and Town Hall. Clayton is buzzing with progressive new projects and a thriving arts and small business community, making it the perfect place to build connections, share great ideas, and think change during the 2018 North Carolina Main Street conference.

Keynote speakers include Ben Muldrow, Partner with Arnett Muldrow and Associates and Ed McMahon, Senior Resident Fellow at the Urban Land Institute. Muldrow will kick off the conference on Tuesday, March 13. He will discuss current trends and future changes that could revolutionize our nation’s downtowns. McMahon will speak on Wednesday, March 14.  He will present the latest trends in land use, real estate and economic development. McMahon will also explore the role of placemaking and historic preservation in economic development. 

The annual North Carolina Main Street Awards Dinner and Ceremony will be held on Wednesday, March 14 and the Main Street Champions Recognition will be held on Thursday, March 15. These two events recognize outstanding projects taking place in Main Street downtowns throughout the state and honor individuals dedicated to making their downtowns thriving places. 

Since 1980, North Carolina Main Street and Small Town Main Street communities have generated over $2.75 billion in public and private investment. Nearly 23,500 cumulative net new full-time and part-time jobs and nearly 5,900 new businesses have been created in North Carolina Main Street districts since the program’s inception. In FY 2016-17, 139,336 volunteer hours were committed to North Carolina Main Street and Small Town Main Street downtown districts, valued at more than $3.2 million.

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