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Author: Christine Schilke

Jennifer E Goldman LLC

Jennifer E Goldman LLC

The Gold Standard in Nonprofit Consulting

Jenn helps nonprofit leaders learn new tools, set and achieve new goals, determine stronger methods of sustainability, and direct their organization onto a mission-driven path to success. She also helps facilitate difficult discussions between board members and staff, evaluate programs and events for effectiveness, and can help identify possible funding sources.

Services

Services include: Management consulting for strategic transformation. Mainly nonprofit organizations, especially Main Street programs and communities.

Visit their website

Contact

Jennifer E. Goldman, President
435 Lakeside Boulevard West
Waterbury, CT 06708
540.454.6511
Jennifer@Resonance.us

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Downtown Decorations, Inc.

Downtown Decorations, Inc.

CUSTOM DESIGN. Endless Possibilities.

For over 20 years Downtown Decorations, Inc has been working in partnership with Main Street’s all across the country as a supplier and designer of commercial holiday décor programs, lighting and all year round light pole banners.

If you are looking for décor for spring, summer, or fall, or even to be the best-decorated city on National Tortilla Chip Day, don’t hesitate to call on them. They are also one of the leading producers of light pole banners, and like all aspects of their company, provide customization on every level. If you can draw it, photograph it, or write it, they can print it.

Services

Services include: Supply & design of commercial holiday décor programs, lighting and all year round light pole banners.

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Contact

Ted Peterson
309 Wavel Street
Syracuse, NY 13206
accounting@downtowndecorations.com

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Shire Lyon Ads

Shire Lyon Ads

ADVERTISING • SEO • WEB DESIGN • CONTENT

Shire’s sole focus is to help small businesses on and off Main Street to scale their revenue through quality and creative content marketing and inventive paid search ads. Her main expertise in media writing, turn-key digital marketing, paid ads, SEO, and SEM has driven exceptional strategies and outcomes for Shire Lyon Ads clients in the medical, business, law, and finance industries. 

Services

Services include: Digital marketing including digital strategy planning, SEO, local SEO, paid ads (social and search), Google Ads grants, social media posting, and more.

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Contact

Shire Lyon
15 Stonewall Lane
Branford, CT 06405
(475) 209-3351‬
info@shirelyon.com

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CivicLift

CivicLift

Technology to build community and grow culture.

CivicLift specializes in enhancing community engagement and economic growth for towns and cities.

They offer two products: CommunityHUB and MUNI. CommunityHUB collects and showcases the heart of your town – Events, Places, Stories, and Jobs. This not only enriches community engagement but also supports economic development and municipal business growth.

MUNI is their ADA-compliant content management system that is simple for municipal staff to manage on the backend and easy for residents to navigate on the front end.

Services

Services include: Community & Economic Development

Visit their website

Contact

Taylor Funk
114 Vanderpoel Avenue
Bantam, CT 06750
435-512-0875

taylor@civiclift.com

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P.3.1 Event Strategy

P.3.1 Event Strategy

Action

Develop an event’s strategy that aligns with your district’s assets, positioning statement, strategic plan, and national/local trends.

Why

Events take a lot of resources; ensure the events your district hosts align with and enhances the vision and branding you aspire to achieve so your resources are being invested in wisely.

How

Some tips:

  • Events are driven by the local market, current events, and national trends.
  • Each event has a target market identified and aligns with the district brand.
  • All events have clearly defined goals and objectives.
  • Events include sustainability best practices.

Resources

Search Downtown Resource Library

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O.3.2 Strategic Plan

O.3.2 Strategic Plan

Action

Update or develop a strategic plan with stakeholder input and informed by your district’s assets.

Why

A strategic plan outlines the key goals and initiatives you want to undertake in your district over a period of time.

How

Review the “Main Street Planning for Success” guide from Main Street New Jersey for steps to guide you through the strategic planning process.

Elements of a good strategic plan:

  • Update every 3 years.
  • Develop through an inclusive process gathering district and community input to keep the pulse on the district’s needs through focus group events, online surveys, and/or other strategies.
  • Reflects opportunities driven by local and national trends informed by market research and analysis.
  • Reflects the district’s business, building, historic, public spaces, art, and business clusters inventory.
  • Includes measurable outcomes and benchmarks.

Search Downtown Resource Library

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D.4.6 Wi-Fi and Hotspots

D.4.6 Wi-Fi and Hotspots

Action

Locate Wi-Fi or hotspots in public green spaces and other common gathering places.

Why

Providing Wi-Fi or hotspots in public spaces gives flexibility for business people on the go, provides a service to residents who otherwise wouldn’t have internet access, and boosts tourism as visitors can look up public transportation options or search for places to eat, shop and explore. 

How

  • Consider surveying residents, business people and visitors to gain insightful feedback.
  • Create partnerships with professionals, organizations and other communities who can support this effort. 
  • Utilize any previous studies or community engagement feedback to create, fund and implement a Wi-Fi or hotspot plan for the downtown.

CMSC Professional Affiliates

  • Link to MP PA post

Search Downtown Resource Library

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V.1.4 Business Clusters

V.1.4 Business Clusters

Action

Identify and support business clusters in the district. Promote and attract complementary clusters.

Why

To ensure Main Street success you must know your assets, gaps and opportunities. Does the community want to grow that cluster? Is there a unique business niche that the city/town can be proud of and use as part of their branding or marketing strategies? Or does the community want to focus on attracting new types of businesses to create more diversity? Knowing what business clusters are in the district, and supporting and promoting those clusters, helps to create a resilient business community.

How

There are a number of ways to collect information about the businesses in your district. Check local real estate apps, your local town Assessor’s and Land Use offices for recent studies or current lists. Taking a walking tour and conducting a survey are great ways to gather and track information if data isn’t already collected. Watch the “How to Collect, Maintain, and Leverage Your Main Street Inventories” webinar and review the Main Street Inventory Quick Reference for guidance on how to conduct this inventory. Then utilize distribution lists, social media, user-friendly GIS maps and other advertising platforms to communicate about (and celebrate!) those business clusters. 

Search Downtown Resource Library

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Meet Our 2024 Cohort

Meet Our 2024 Cohort

2024 Main Street Accelerator Cohort

Teams from six Connecticut communities were chosen for the inaugural class of CMSC’s new Main Street Accelerator program – a virtual, 6-month program where participants learn and practice the nationally proven Four Point Main Street Approach and apply it to a specific challenge their community is facing. 

The teams and their projects represent a diverse array of Connecticut towns and cities:

  • East Side NRZ

    Representatives from the NRZ and the City will create an accessible document that provides actionable solutions for businesses to revitalize their storefronts.

    Team members:

    • Tatiana E. Urena, President, East Side NRZ
    • Kellie Taylor, VP, East Side NRZ
    • Jonathan Delgado, Econ Dev, City Bridgeport
  • Georgetown Village Restoration, Inc.

    GVR team members will examine how to increase exposure and foot traffic in Georgetown to help support businesses and the community.

    Team members:

    • Kate Perry, Secretary, Redding EDC
    • Lisa Devine, VP, GVR
    • Nic Palazzo, President, GVR
  • Downtown Windsor

    A local business owner and Windsor’s First Town Downtown director will reimagine the ground floor VFW ballroom into a retail space-sharing facility.

    Team members:

    • Annisa Teich, Founder, The Small Business Collective
    • Deb DeLucia, Exec Dir, First Town Downtown
  • Town of Haddam

    Municipal economic development commissioners, the town’s selectwoman, and local business owners will work together to improve signage, mapping, and the overall visual appeal between the town’s two village centers.

    Team members:

    • Kate Anderson, Selectwoman
    • Curtis Browne, EDC Member
    • Mike Karam, EDC Member
    • Bridget Marshall, Oh Fudge and More
    • Courtney Emshwiller-Swokla, HK Health and Fitness
  • Norwich Community Development Corporation

    Planners and local development organizations will collaborate on how to change the perception of downtown Norwich by enticing tourists through cooperative marketing and events with local groups.

    Team members:

    • Bobbie Braboy, Director Global City Norwich
    • Kevin Brown, President, Norwich Community Dev Corp
    • Lucas Kaiser, Community Dev. Specialist, Norwich Community Dev Corp
    • Dan Daniska, City Planning and Zoning
    • Nicole Haggerty, Planner, Southeastern CT Council of Gov.
  • Town of Thomaston

    Municipal officials and downtown volunteers will work collaboratively to create a strong network of downtown businesses and begin revitalizing Downtown Thomaston’s historic and visual assets.

    Team members:

    • Stacey Sefcik, Land Use Administrator, Thomaston
    • Susan Holway, Secretary, Thomaston EDC
    • Lissa Jennings, Member, Thomaston EDC
    • Alissa Monteleone, Member, Thomaston EDC
    • Mary Lacilla, Member, Thomaston Beautification Committee

Learn about the Accelerator program

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Everything Old is New Again: How the Windsor Historical Society is making the town’s past modern & accessible

Everything Old is New Again:

How the Windsor Historical Society is making the town’s history modern & accessible

CMSC recently talked to Doug Shipman, Windsor Historical Society’s Executive Director to learn how they’re engaging Windsor’s diverse residents, partnering with the downtown, and going viral on Facebook.

As a New England state, Connecticut has a long history, and as home to the first English settlement, Windsor lays claim as Connecticut’s first town, and correspondingly the state’s first downtown. So it’s not surprising that like other Connecticut towns, Windsor has a Historical Society to preserve and share the stories of its past. What is surprising is how proactively this historical society is working to bridge its history with its present, making a point to tell everyone’s stories – not just offer the traditional perspectives – in addition to spotlighting the town’s current diverse demographics. They’re also refreshingly open to embracing new technologies and working with a myriad of partners to reach new audiences.  


Celebrating All Residents & Their Stories

Windsor Historical Society (WHS) was established in 1921 to prepare for Windsor’s 300-year anniversary in 1933. At the time, the Historical Society was focused on preserving its colonial past, buying their first building – the current Strong-Howard House – within their first four years. That focus on preserving colonial era history would remain until only very recently. Doug Shipman, WHS Executive Director, notes that as the town edges towards its 400-year anniversary, they’ve been changing their focus to be more representative of the town’s current demographics and to celebrate and share the histories of all of Windsor’s residents.

While Windsor was ninety-eight percent white in 1921, it’s now forty-eight percent white, fifty-two percent people of color. In fact, Doug notes it’s one of the most diverse towns in CT. To help reflect this, the WHS had a nine-foot tall map of the town made that they bring to public events. They then took pictures of residents and added them to the map where the person lives. To date, over one thousand residents can now see themselves pictured on the map with friends and neighbors. To Doug, this exercise has dual achievements: it helps people see that they’re all a part of the Windsor community and also lets them know the WHS is there for them. “It’s kind of our way of bringing a little bit of the Historical Society into the downtown and people seeing, ‘hey, the Historical Society is kind of a cool, modern, history-is-fun kind of place, not this stodgy old brown furniture thing.”


Collaboration Over Competition

In addition to engaging residents and visitors directly, Doug is also quick to credit collaboration as one of the keys to their success. The Historical Society makes an effort to partner with downtown businesses and organizations like CMSC member First Town Downtown to amplify each other’s events and work. WHS has also been involved in the town’s tourism efforts for a long time, with WHS and other arts and culture organizations playing a large role in the overall nature and quality of the community. The Historical Society was one of the founders of the Windsor Arts and Museums Association (WAMA), a collection of seven museums and attraction sites people can visit, including art museums, the CT Valley Tobacco museum, a vintage radio museum, Loomis Chaffee Mercy Gallery, Oliver Ellsworth Homestead (the third U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice and framer of the Constitution), and the Windsor Freedom Trail sites.

His approach is optimistic and pragmatic. “I endeavor to say yes to partnering with others. I try to avoid the idea of scarcity, but rather collaborate on funding,” Doug says, noting that they can do more by working together. He talks excitedly about UConn Department of History Professor Fionna Vernal who’s been working with WHS, South Windsor’s Wood Memorial Library and Bloomfield’s Wintonbury Historical Society to get grant funding for an online oral history collecting platform called Their Story.

He adds that this is a great example of why it’s important to collaborate, not compete. Each of the three organizations has a particular strength that they focus on. When someone is looking for something WHS doesn’t offer, they’re happy to recommend their colleagues, and they do the same in return for WHS.


Using New Approaches

Beyond partnering with local and regional organizations, WHS is open to using new technology to further engage audiences. Doug muses how people used to think they had to physically get people through their doors because they feared if you put something online no one would come. Now it’s the opposite. To meet this new mindset, they offer a lot of information online – Black histories and oral histories, even the last seventy-five years of Windsor High School yearbooks.  They also partnered with First Town Downtown and the Chamber of Commerce to create a virtual walking tour that bridges attractions separated by the town’s geography. With their proximity to Bradley Airport, the walking tour also occasionally attracts travelers who may have long layovers and want to get out of the airport for a little while.

Doug notes that their staff does a great job of posting to Facebook, with the archivist, curator, community history specialist, and the office manager taking turns so it’s not overwhelming for any one of them. And it’s working – several of their photos have gone viral, with tens of thousands of people seeing their images. Doug loves it. “It’s great because a lot of people see themselves in it and share it and that’s what we want, people relating to their history.” He adds, “That’s their memory. They’re trying to make a connection between what we’re doing, the history we’re presenting and their memory, and that’s how people learn and have an emotional attachment to history and become fans and love history, because of that personal connection.”

To learn more about the Windsor Historical Society or view their upcoming events, visit their website.


About CT Main Street Center

CMSC is the expert resource for developing and sustaining vibrant downtowns that fuel our state’s prosperity. Our mission is to assess, educate, convene, and advocate to develop and grow our traditional downtowns, village centers, and urban mixed-use neighborhoods. We provide education and training, resources and technical assistance, and function as the statewide champion for downtowns and Main Streets of all sizes.

CMSC is supported by its Founding Sponsors, the Department of Economic & Community Development (DECD) and Eversource Energy. CMSC is also supported by its Growth Sponsors, UIL Holdings and the State Historic Preservation Office. More information is available at www.ctmainstreet.org.

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