Main Street America and the National Main Street Center have selected two Mid-Shore community development professionals to lead a session on the importance of retail and restaurant diversity for the stability of America’s small towns. Ross Benincasa, managing principal at Rivers & Roads Consulting and an advisor at SVN | Miller Commercial Real Estate, and Sam Shoge, executive director of the Kent County Chamber of Commerce, will join the founders of Norfolk-based Pedal Retail for an in-depth session at Main Street Now, Main Street America’s national conference, held May 16-18, 2022 in Richmond, Va.
Titled “Lowering Retail Barriers and Lifting Communities,” the interactive panel will educate cities and community organizations about the difficulties facing 21st-century retailers, and how downtown organizations can work together with their elected officials and commercial real estate advisors to ease these challenges and create a stronger, more diverse small business environment.
“Taking the plunge into entrepreneurship is difficult for any new business owner, but this is especially true in the ever-changing brick-and-mortar retail landscape,” Benincasa said. “We intend to not only address these challenges, but also to identify ways in which our local governments, community organizations, and real estate professionals can work together to build a more transparent and welcoming environment, creating an overall stronger Main Street community.”
Some of the information and strategies offered to attendees will include the economic importance of developing a more diverse business community and how to recruit and support first-time entrepreneurs into street-level retail spaces.
“A diverse mix of retailers and storefronts is the foundation of a vibrant community, and should be the goal for all of our Main Streets,” Shoge said. “There are a series of intentional steps that communities can take to ensure they are putting their best foot forward in filling storefronts and we are excited to delve into this topic and share our experiences.”
Main Street Now is the annual conference of Main Street America and the National Main Street Center, bringing together thousands of community development professionals and municipal representatives from across the country to learn about the benefits of a downtown-focused approach.
Based in Chicago, Ill., the National Main Street Center leads a movement committed to strengthening communities through preservation-based economic development in older and historic downtowns and neighborhood commercial districts.