Top Ten Blog Posts for 2011

In February 2012, we will celebrate the fourth anniversary of this blog. From a humble start of 25 readers a month, we have grown our readership this year from 800 a month to more than 1,300 unique readers each month, by year-end. We had more than 9,000 page views each month in 2011, and we are finding that the number increases by five to ten percent each month. Our highest days for page views and visitors seem to correlate to the recent publication of Main Street related “how-to articles,” as word seems to spread about useful content throughout the Main Street movement. Based on the analytics from Word Press, here are the top ten blog posts (in reverse order—David Letterman style):

10.  Handouts from Your New Board Policies Courtesy of the IRS We presented this session at the National Trust Main Street Center conference in Des Moines IA this May, at the worst possible time, Wednesday at 8:00 a.m. Conference goers know that this is worst spot possible because the Big Bash is held the night before and many conference goers have a good time, but not so many people show up bright and early for an 8:00 a.m. session the next day. The hundred souls that did attend this session were fully engaged in what is a highly important but potentially snore-inducing topic, but the reviews were stellar. If you missed the session, this blog post has all the handout materials, including the PowerPoint presentation and links to more content.

9. Neighborhood Shopping in Portland OR In April we were asked to visit with the new Portland (OR) Main Street program to provide fundraising training for their three new neighborhood commercial districts. This blog post is about one of the great commercial corridors there Alberta Street. This corridor has some of the best commercial signage we have seen in years (clearly a sign ordinance must exist there) and this blog post is lavishly illustrated with photos of the best signs we saw.

8.  Survey Results Posted--Diversify Your Revenue: a Workshop for BIDSs and SIDs The Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission has been working hard to organize the suburbs that participate in their Classic Towns effort, a joint marketing program. Many of these Classic Towns have downtowns that are in the midst of starting or have already successful downtown revitalization programs. We provided a day-long presentation on fundraising options for Business Improvement Districts (BIDs, and SIDs as they are called in NJ) to help these corridor management organizations to diversify their funding base and expand their budgets. This blog post also includes the results of an online survey we conducted of more than two dozen BIDs/SIDs in New Jersey and Southeastern PA.

7.  25 Great Ways to Use Your Main Street Reinvestment Statistics Main Street New Jersey continues to be a highly valued client, and since moving back to Pennsylvania in 2007, I have presented at their Downtown Revitalization and Management Institute each year. This blog posts offers 25 different ways to share and use the reinvestment statistics collected monthly (or quarterly) by Main Street organizations nationwide. These stats, which are time-consuming to gather, need to be featured more prominently to show successes for local programs. This post offers some ideas about how to use them throughout a local program’s PR efforts.

6.  Heritage Consulting Inc. Project Wins 2011 Preservation Achievement Award We were delighted to learn that we had won the Grand Jury Award for our yearlong project for The Delaware County (PA) Planning Department called Delaware County Public History Feasibility Study and Implementation Plan. For this project we surveyed and got to know the 80 history organizations in the county, of which 77% are still run entirely by volunteers. These organizations maintain more than 300 buildings, and most are run admirably by their nonprofit and government stewards. This blog post has a link to the entire study. The Delaware County Historic and Preservation Network have a lively listserve, blog and event calendar—all outgrowths of our work.

5.  Making Affordable Housing Publication Available During 2009–10, we worked with Preservation New Jersey on a yearlong program to offer technical assistance to local preservation organizations that wished to establish historic preservation plans in their municipal planning documents. Another part of that study was a review of the creation of affordable housing in historic buildings throughout the state. This report finally published in 2011, offers case studies of eight exemplary projects statewide and provides a basis for the renewed emphasis on combining both federal tax credits (historic preservation and low-income housing). We hope this report will encourage more uses for threatened buildings statewide. Read all or part of the study in the blog post.

4.  Being Introduced to Main Street Saline MI We enjoy providing training to new Main Street organizations, and the volunteers in Saline, MI, wanted to get off to a strong start. This post describes the handsome downtown in suburban Ann Arbor, MI, and the work the residents had before them as they were trying organize themselves to submit for Main Street community designation by the Michigan Main Street program.

3.  Reaching Further: Cultivating African American, Latino and Youth Volunteers Guest blogger and a longtime consultant Alexander Balloon wrote this blog piece about research he conducted this summer on expanding the representation of ethnic and racial groups among Main Street volunteers. This post was picked up by the American Association for State and Local History and retweeted in their network.

2.  Fifty People Attend Historic Tacony Revitalization Project Kick Off meeting In the fourth quarter of 2011, we began working as interim staff for the Tacony Community Development Corporation as they wanted to start a Main Street revitalization effort. This post describes the response to the kickoff meeting and key concerns along the corridor.

1.  Scenario Planning—2 of 5 blog posts on Surviving a Financial Crisis One of the component parts of our Main Street New Jersey presentation for 2011 Downtown Revitalization and Management institute was about creating scenarios to judge various solutions to financial problems that local revitalization organizations are facing. This post offers useful ways to think about an uncertain future.