Baltimore's neighborhoods will have a staring role in next month's
National Main Streets Conference
, as Charm City becomes the first city to host the conference twice. The yearly conference was last held in Baltimore in 2005.
Conference organizers hope to send a message to attendees that small businesses and main streets across the country are thriving and local development is on the rise. The conference, titled "Rediscover Main Street,” will be held April 1-4 at the Baltimore Hilton.
Baltimore's small-scale development, from urban gardens to craft brewing, will be featured throughout the conference. Organizers plan to use the city as a "living laboratory" for what makes successful neighborhoods, says Mary de la Fe, program manager for conferences at the National Trust Main Street Center
Baltimore has been successful in creating and sustaining innovative practices within neighborhood economic development and the hope of the conference is to highlight some of the success that Baltimore has had, de la Fe says.
"We really try to make sure we're showcasing the city, the preservation efforts and the uniqueness of the city," de la Fe says.
The conference, an initiative of the National Trust for Historic Preservation
, will be co-hosted by Baltimore Main Streets
, part of the Baltimore Development Corporation
. Currently, 10 main streets exist within Baltimore including the Fells Point
and Hamilton-Lauraville Main Streets
The main street model
was developed in the 1980s as an approach to economic revitalization and has since been implemented in over 1500 communities across the nation. The approach focuses a combination of historic preservation, supporting and recruiting businesses, organizing a volunteer base, and neighborhood promotion.
Around 1,300 professionals who work in local economic development are expected to attend the conference that will provide educational tours and workshops to help managers of main street programs maintain or create vibrant, sustainable downtowns.
, journalist and author of "Locavesting: The Revolution in Local Investing and How to Profit from It," will provide the keynote address.
While the majority of the conference is open to registered participants only, a free overview of the main street approach will be held Sunday, April 1, 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m at the Baltimore Hilton and is open to the public.
Source: Mary de la Fe, program manager for conferences at the National Trust Main Street Center
Writer: Alexandra Wilding