Listed below you’ll find information to help CMSC members be their best.

NEW! An Introduction to Main Street webinar
Learn more about The Main Street Approach! View this presentation, which provides an introduction to CT Main Street Center, an overview of The Main Street Approach, and how to develop a Main Street Action Plan.

  • Presentation Video – Watch this presentation when it is convenient for you on our YouTube channel
  • Presentation — PDF version of the slide presentation

Toolkit helps members tell their downtown stories
Whether your goal is to attract more people to your events, get more press coverage for your downtown, or convey the impact of your organization and its affiliation with CMSC,  you’ll find several resources to help you succeed listed here:

  • Talking Points for Your Downtown – Did you know the CMSC member network collectively represents 1.9 million Connecticut residents? Or that donors 40-59 are more likely to give online, while millennials prefer social media? Click to find useful information about the main street network, Connecticut’s changing demographics, and downtown economic data that can be easily copied and pasted to create more powerful presentations for funders, board members and volunteers, and local and state leaders.
  • Tips & Tricks for Drafting & Disseminating a Press Release – Click here to see our How to Write a Press Release infographic, with 10 easy tips for getting noticed. Then view all of these elements together in an example of a real CMSC Press Release that incorporates all of these elements.

    Canva lets you quickly and easily create eye-catching graphics like this.

  • Create Powerful Infographics & Social Media Images –  Canva is an easy-to-use, online tool for creating eye-catching images and graphics.  Use your creations for social media, reports, infographics, posters, flyers and more. There are loads of free options, or you can pay to create upgraded versions (usually only $1, and there’s no charge until you download your design).
  • Sample Main Street Designs Using Canva – Using real images from CMSC members, we created several examples of how you can use Canva to create powerful posts for social media, promote events, create images for reports and more. (Our How to Write a Press Release infographic was also created using Canva).
  • Professional Photography Tips – The appeal and importance of good pictures in undeniable in today’s digital world. Not only does the brain process visual information more quickly than text, but it also generates far more user engagement on digital outlets like Facebook and Twitter. In this document, CMSC Professional Affiliate Allegra Anderson of Allegra Anderson Photography gives you several useful tips for taking great photos.
  • A Guide on Communication in Times of Change – At some point, all downtown organizations go through change, whether that’s a change in leadership or a change to the downtown’s physical environment. This helpful document by Nancy Settle-Murphy offers guidance on how to communicate these changes in a forthright, authentic way that helps dissolve anxiety and garner support.

Updated on 10/26/2016

BRIDGE Series featuring Kristina Newman-Scott – Presentation Available!
The BRIDGE Series offers CMSC members quarterly networking and info-sharing events. This past Friday, members heard from CT’s Director of Culture, Kristina Newman-Scott.  Kristina talked about her vision for increasing connectivity of between the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) and the Office of the Arts (COA) – both under her direction at DECD – with our local main streets and artists to truly place art within economic development.

Click here to link to Kristina’s presentation which includes:

  • Overviews of the many programs and funding offered by SHPO and COA.
  • Compelling info on how much the arts contribute to CT’s bottom line and to  vibrant communities, positively impacting health, economics and families.
  • Outlines what’s next for the Office of the Arts, including a 5-year statewide, Arts & Cultural strategy.

Posted 04/12/2016

Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Programs Accepting Proposals
This week, the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service announced that the Farmers Market Promotion Program (FMPP) and the Local Food Promotion Program (LFPP) are now accepting proposals through May 12, 2016. Approximately $13 million is available for each of these programs, and the maximum grant awards have increased to $500,000.
The Specialty Crop Block Grant program period is also open and applicants may submit their proposals through their state agricultural departments.
Applications for FMPP and LFPP must be submitted electronically through  Applicants should start the registration process as soon as possible to ensure that they meet the deadline.

AMS will host a webinar on March 24, 2016, at 2 p.m. EST for FMPP and LFPP applicants.  For more information about webinars, visit the AMS grants website: addition, AMS will host webinars on March 22 and March 29, both at 2 p.m. EST, to explain how to submit grant applications via

Additional grant writing workshops will be held through the Agricultural Marketing Service Technical Assistance (AMSTA) Project. Please visit to see if training is scheduled in your area.

More details are available:
Farmers Market Promotion Program
Local Food Promotion Program
Info on AMS training webinars
Specialty Crop Block Grant Program

Posted on 03/14/16
2016 Awards of Excellence Call for Entries & Nominations – DUE TUESDAY, MARCH 8
Think your Main Street is the best of the best?  Then be sure to submit a nomination for a 2016 Award of Excellence.  In addition to celebrating the good work of our members, these awards provide an excellent opportunity to bring new recognition and press coverage to your downtown.  Click the links below for the instructions and forms to submit your nomination.

2016 Call for Entries
2016 Entry Form

Once complete, click here to submit your application.

Posted 03/08/16

New Britain Receives National Recognition for Complete Streets Plan
The City of New Britain and Urban Engineers, Inc. have earned a National Recognition Award for exemplary engineering achievement from the American Council of Engineering Companies’ (ACEC) for their Complete Streets Plan for Downtown New Britain.
New Britain is reinventing its downtown in concert with CTfastrak, taking steps to transition from a car-centric infrastructure to one that centers on the concept of a “Complete Street.”  Complete Streets are designed, operated and maintained to enable safe access for pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists, and public transportation users of all ages and abilities.
New Britain’s Complete Streets Master Plan for Downtown leverages the city’s dense, compact, walkable downtown, open spaces, and historically significant buildings with a comprehensive network of multi-modal transportation and urban design improvements. Elements of the plan included a road diet, reconfigured curb-to-curb space allowing bike accommodations, new and improved open spaces, a new roundabout gateway, and innovative head-out and shared parking solutions. The Plan also included a new wayfinding and historical signage system and design standards to provide a uniform look and feel to the downtown.
New Britain and the other National Recognition Award winners will be honored at the black-tie Engineering Excellence Awards Gala — known as the “Academy Awards of the engineering industry”— in Washington, D.C. in April.
Click here to read the full press release.
Posted on 02/12/16
CMSC Announces New Professional Affiliate Membership
Please join us as we welcome our new Professional Affiliates!
Who is eligible?
Open to sole proprietors, academic institutions, firms and nonprofit associations, this new membership offers CMSC the opportunity to strengthen our relationships with downtown revitalization organizations across the state, while providing our member communities with access to industry leaders in preservation, economic and community development, land use, transportation and responsible growth policies, organizational development, marketing and more.
Ten organizations have already signed on, and we expect many more to join us in the coming months and years.
What does it mean to be a Professional Affiliate?
As members, the Professional Affiliates will receive member updates and alerts, be eligible for discounts on workshop admissions, and receive invitations to CMSC member networking events.  Professional Affiliates are not eligible to apply for Preservation of Place grants, although they may be hired independently as consultants to POP projects.  Like with Member Communities, Professional Affiliate Membership is available twice a year, in January and July.
When will CMSC publicly announce the new Professional Affiliates?
Look for our public announcement in the next issue of Downtown Update, out January 15th, when we will also announce and welcome our new Member Communities.  In the meantime, please feel free to view our new Professional Affiliate page on the CMSC website.
Posted on 01/11/16
2016 Awards of Excellence Call for Entries & Nominations
Think your Main Street is the best of the best?  Then be sure to submit a nomination for a 2016 Award of Excellence.  In addition to celebrating the good work of our members, these awards provide an excellent opportunity to bring new recognition and press coverage to your downtown.  Click the links below for the instructions and forms to submit your nomination.

2016 Call for Entries
2016 Entry Form

BRIDGE Series featuring Chris Ortwein – Presentation Available!
The BRIDGE Series offers CMSC members quarterly networking and info-sharing events. This past Friday, members heard about the essentials for transforming a business district into a vibrant place from Chris Ortwein, Director of Retail Sq. Ft., a program of the Town Green SSD in New Haven, and winner of the IDA Downtown Achievement Awards.

Click here for a link (or here for a PDF) to Chris’s presentation examining:

  • How do we use market data to drive promotional campaigns, create more foot traffic, and determine what retail markets we can attract?
  • How do we define our customers and calculate potential retail sales?
  • How do we determine the best business mix, analyze business opportunities, and when is it time to contract a national retail consultant?
  • And how do we take all of this information and create a vibrant place?

Posted 11/09/2015

CMSC Institutes Member Posting Alerts; Discontinues Member Newsletter
In an effort to share news and events with our members in a more timely way, we will no longer be issuing quarterly member newsletters.  Instead, we will be posting information relevant to our members on the Members Only area of our website as they occur. We will notify you of updates to this area via a brief email alert with a link to the CMSC website.Please note you are required to log in to the Members Only area of the website. The login information will be posted on each email alert.We hope you will find these postings to be helpful and timely.  As always, if you have any suggestions or comments, please feel free to send them to Christine Schilke at
Posted 11/09/2015
Fall issue of CMSC Member Newsletter Now Available
Click the box to the right for the latest issue of Downtown Link, the newsletter for CMSC members. Find information on our next member networking event, get an update on our strategic planning process, and learn about grant opportunities from the state.
Posted on 11/02/2015

CMSC Presentation to MSW Board on Messaging
Click here to view the PowerPoint presentation CMSC’s Christine Schilke gave to the Main Street Waterbury Board on Tuesday, May 12.  The presentation identifies three types of messaging, gives examples of ways Board members can help spread an organization’s message, and demonstrates some of the ways CMSC’s own Board helps with messaging.  There’s also a Cheat Sheet with helpful links and tips.

CMSC members invited to attend CERC/Eversource Event
Eversource Energy and CERC are holding a briefing on the 2015 Economic Review and Energy Efficiency Programs that can drive Economic Development:

Date: Monday, April 13
Where: Eversource Energy, 107 Selden Street, Berlin, CT — Cafeteria East
Time: 10:00 AM – 11:30 AM

RSVP by Thursday April 9 to

Winter issue of CMSC Member Newsletter Now Available

Click the box to the right for the latest issue of Downtown Link, the newsletter for CMSC members. Find updates on proposed legislation affecting CMSC and our members, along with information on assistance for small businesses, a link to a helpful overview of signage and wayfinding and an update on our member services task force.

Posted on 03/04/2015

CT Main Street Awards of Excellence – 2015 Call for Entries
The application period is now open for CMSC members in good standing for the 2015 CT Main Street Awards of Excellence. Click the links below for application materials and submittal information.

These awards annually celebrate the most successful and innovative efforts in Main Street Revitalization in Connecticut.  Award recipients, their partners and communities enjoy positive media attention as CMSC promotes the winners, as well as high-visibility recognition from local, state and federal leaders.  The 2015 CT Main Street Awards Gala will be held on June 8, 2015 in Downtown New Britain.

Call for Entries Brochure
2015 Call for Entries
2015 Entry Form

First posted on 11/25/14; Re-posted on 01/12/15

New England Chapter of the Congress for the New Urbanism’s DoTank Offering Technical Assistance to Main Street Organizations and BIDs
CNU is offering a technical assistance workshop program for organizations seeking to activate underperforming commercial districts and public spaces with a focus on tactical urbanism. CNU New England will deploy a customized panel of expert thinkers and doers to:

– Facilitate a half-day workshop that identifies opportunities for intervention
– Document a project report and action plan
– Advise and assist with the implementation of recommendations in the plan

CNU New England will provide workshops to up to six eligible organizations in 2015, including, but not limited to, Main Street Organizations, Business Improvement Districts that apply on or before January 23, 2015.  Click here for more information and to apply.

Posted on 12/09/2015

Next issue of CMSC’s Member Newsletter Now Available
Click the box to the right for the latest issue of Downtown Link, the newsletter for CMSC members. Find updates on the Member Services Task Force we’ve been convening, along with updates on how we’ve been helping our members and a great article on understanding your market from Tripp Muldrow of Arnett Muldrow & Associates, the consultant we engaged to assist us with our economic recovery consultancy in Sandy Hook.

Updated on 11/04/2014

New Directions in Tax Increment Financing workshop full!
Registration has closed for our November 7 workshop on using Tax Increment Financing (TIF) here in Connecticut.  We look forward to seeing many of you at this event co-sponsored by CMSC, CEDAS and CCAPA.  You can find information on parking and directions by clicking here.

Updated on 11/04/2014

2015 Preservation of Place Grant Pre-Application Documents Available
Click the links below to view documents related to the 2015 POP grant including a memo providing an overview of the program and applicable timelines and the pre-application form. Pre-apps are due to CMSC via email by October 28, 2014.

2015 POP Pre-Application Memo
2015 POP Pre-Application Form

Posted on 10/14/2014

View CMSC’s informational webinar on the Preservation of Place (POP) Grant 2015 Pre-Application process.
Listen to CMSC’s Kimberley Parsons-Whitaker walk you step-by-step through the pre-application process, including a review of required information, examples of eligible activities, tips on what makes a strong application and a review of due dates and next steps. Click here to listen.

Posted updated 10/14/2014

New London Main Street invites fellow Main Streeters to the Grand Opening of their CreateHereNow initiative
New London Main Street has worked hard to coordinate the CreateHereNow initiative to benefit New London’s downtown.  Annah Perch, Executive Director of New London Main Street, asked us to share this invitation to their Grand Opening on Saturday, September 27 with all of you.  We hope you can join them in celebrating this wonderful achievement.

Posted on 09/18/2014


CT Trust for Historic Preservation announces availability of grant funds.
The Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation (CTPH) has announced a new Making Places Grant, intended to catalyze and move forward efforts to preserve, stabilize, rehabilitate and re-use historic industrial places. Several CMSC members may be eligible to apply.  Click here for more information.

Posted on 09/16/2014