Friday, May 30, 2008

Illinois to host National Main Street Conference

SPRINGFIELD – The 25th Annual National Main Streets Conference will come to Illinois for the first time in 2009, bringing thousands of committed volunteers, developers and community organizers from across the nation to the Land of Lincoln.

“This is an exciting opportunity for the state of Illinois to showcase its diverse and vibrant downtown districts that so many dedicated Main Street volunteers have worked so hard to create,” said Lt. Governor Pat Quinn, Chairman of the Illinois Main Street Advisory Council. “This conference will bring together motivated people from across the United States to share ideas, communicate successful strategies and help promote technology as a tool to enhance historic downtown districts across the country.”

Illinois Main Street and the National Trust for Historic Preservation will co-host the National Main Streets Conference, which will take place March 1-4, 2009 at the Palmer House Hilton hotel in Chicago. Attendees will engage in more than 60 educational sessions, workshops, social networking events, and local and regional tours.

The conference theme, “Becoming Main Street 2.0” will equip professionals and volunteers involved in preservation-based economic development and revitalization with the technological tools necessary to succeed in the 21st century. Workshops will explore the many different ways to use technology to manage revitalization programs by engaging constituents, developing social networking on Main Street, recruiting volunteers, generating e-commerce and monitoring financial records.

"We expect record crowds at the National Main Streets Conference this year because from coast to coast, main streets matter to people,” said Doug Loescher, Director of the National Trust Main Street Center.

“Chicago provides the ideal meeting point for Main Street professionals from across the country to take community revitalization to a new level by leveraging emerging technologies to engage residents and their business sectors. With our strong partnership with Illinois Main Street, we are excited to showcase outstanding success stories from across the state."

Loescher announced that Chicago would host the 2009 Main Streets Conference during the closing session of the April 2008 conference in Philadelphia, which drew more than 1,600 attendees. Illinois Main Street staff, local executive directors and volunteers built excitement for the 2009 Chicago conference with a trade show booth featuring the sights, sounds and smells of “Sweet Home Chicago.”

Illinois Main Street also invited the Philadelphia crowd to Chicago with a video themed after the famous Blues Brothers movie. The clip follows Jake and Elwood as they embark on a 761-mile trip from Philadelphia to Chicago, passing through Main Street towns like Alton, Springfield and Batavia along the way. Watch the video at

Illinois Main Street represents one of the state’s most effective public-private partnerships for economic development and community renewal. Since its inception, designated communities have reported net gains of more than 1,600 new downtown businesses and created more than 6,000 new full- and part-time jobs. The Main Street program has spurred the reinvestment of more than $576 million in Main Street downtowns.

Illinois is one of 40 states participating in the National Main Street program, administered through the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The Lt. Governor’s Office administers the Illinois Main Street program, now the fourth largest in the nation, with architectural assistance from the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency.

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