Detroit Sets Perfect Backdrop for Downtown Revitalization Conference Starting Sunday

From May 18-20, National Main Streets Conference will highlight economic development successes, opportunities in Motor City and statewide

May 15, 2014, 13:30 ET from Michigan State Housing Development Authority

LANSING, Mich., May 15, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The 29th National Main Streets Conference will descend on Detroit Sunday through Tuesday, attracting more than 1,300 city planners, community revitalization professionals, volunteers and elected officials to the Motor City. The conference -- the largest of its kind in the country -- brings together practitioners of the National Main Street Center's Four-Point Approach®. Since 1977, this approach has been used by more than 2,000 communities nationwide to stimulate more than 246,000 building rehabilitation projects and create nearly 503,000 jobs.

The 2014 National Main Streets Conference is co-hosted by the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA) and the Michigan Main Street Center.

Through more than a dozen mobile workshops, 60 education sessions and peer networking, conference-goers will explore best practices in using historic and cultural resources to overcome economic challenges. Detroit is the perfect backdrop for examining this subject as it offers attendees a firsthand look at rebuilding an economy by capitalizing on the city's unique assets, including the use of art and culture to drive regeneration, urban farming on vacant land, pop-ups in empty buildings, and entrepreneurism of all kinds.

"We are delighted to showcase to a national audience the strides Detroit and many Michigan communities are making in revitalizing their downtowns," says Patrice Frey, president and CEO of the National Main Street Center. "From tours of Midtown's art and design district, to the opening reception on the streets of downtown Ferndale, to sessions on managing rightsizing and crowdfunding real estate, attendees will experience Detroit as a living laboratory. We are confident attendees will have a wealth of ideas and inspiration to bring back to their hometown revitalization efforts."

Other conference highlights include: 

  • Keynote address by Donovan Rypkema, a global expert in downtown revitalization, who will highlight studies that demonstrate the economic impact of Main Street revitalization, including more than $200 million in investment attracted and 13,000 net new jobs created over the last decade in Michigan
  • The announcement of the prestigious 2014 Great American Main Street Award winners
  • Mobile workshops, including a bike tour of the West Riverfront, the Ponyride entrepreneurial incubator and urban farms
  • A free, four-part introduction to the Main Street Approach® which will describe the building blocks of a successful downtown revitalization strategy
  • A keynote speech by Tom Daldin, television host of the PBS show, Under the Radar Michigan on how to identify and promote the hidden gems in everyone's hometown.
  • Detroit's Cass Technical High School's Performing Arts Department – in coordination with other local arts groups -- will delight audiences at the Big Bash and closing plenary with performances including spoken word, drum line, color guard and the step team

"The activities of Main Street communities across Michigan have contributed greatly to our state's comeback," said MSHDA Executive Director Scott Woosley. "We are thrilled to share with a national audience how this place-based approach – and an army of strong advocates and volunteers – have stirred passion in revitalization that has led to vibrant communities where people want to live, work, invest and play."

On-site registration begins on Saturday, May 17, at the Detroit Marriott Renaissance Center from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. The conference is open to members of the media, but they must check in at the registration desk to receive their media packets. The public may purchase tickets for tours pending availability.

For conference updates, follow @MainStreetsConf on Twitter. More information on the program is online at:

Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA)
The Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA) provides financial and technical assistance through public and private partnerships to create and preserve decent, affordable housing for low- and moderate-income residents and to engage in community economic development activities to revitalize urban and rural communities.*

*MSHDA's loans and operating expenses are financed through the sale of tax-exempt and taxable bonds as well as notes to private investors, not from state tax revenues. Proceeds are loaned at below-market interest rates to developers of rental housing, and help fund mortgages and home improvement loans. MSHDA also administers several federal housing programs. For more information, visit

The National Main Street Center
Established in 1980 as a program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the National Main Street Center works with a nationwide network of communities to encourage preservation-based economic revitalization that utilizes the Main Street Four-Point Approach.® The Center participated in the renewal of more than 2,000 older commercial districts during its 30-year history. Now a subsidiary of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the National Main Street Center provides information, offers technical assistance, holds conferences and workshops, and conducts research and advocacy on critical revitalization issues.

SOURCE Michigan State Housing Development Authority