Tennessee State Main Street conference hosted in Murfreesboro Downtown


Tennessee Main Street Directors gather for a quarterly conference in Murfreesboro to learn and share with others.

Main Street Directors learn about grants, marketing, strategic development for their programs at the conference.

Main Street Directors in Tennessee gather quarterly across the state for training.  The first quarter conference for 2024 was hosted in Murfreesboro at the historic downtown Main Street and Heritage Center office.  Around 35 directors from across Tennessee, representing their downtown communities, soaked up information for two days together.  Speakers included the Tennessee Economic Development Department, Tennessee Arts Commission, the City of Murfreesboro Planning Department, and Main Street's own Saturday Market Manager.  The focus of this conference was on grant opportunities for downtown small businesses' property enhancement projects and beautification projects, arts programing funding, diverse fundraising initiatives, growing a farmer's market to make it financially stable and self-sustaining, Wayfinding in a downtown district, and the new National Main Street accreditation standards all programs must achieve.   

Murfreesboro locals participated in the conference.

"I was so proud to show off our downtown and highlight some of our leaders in the community.  It was a proud moment for Murfreesboro to host this conference with Main Street directors from across the state coming here and seeing what we are doing right," said Sarah Callender, Executive Director of the Murfreesboro Main Street program.

Mayor Shane McFarland and Vice Mayor Bill Shacklett stopped in the second day to welcome everyone to Murfreesboro.  Both leaders did a great job encouraging the directors to keep up their hard work in promoting their downtowns across the state.  They each made a point to emphasize the importance of the city working with the Main Street programs in their community to partner on projects and accomplish shared goals.  

Greg McKnight and Joel Aguilera, both Main Street Murfreesboro board members and City of Murfreesboro employees in the planning and development department, spoke on the new Wayfinding project the city is working on in 2024.  This is a project that Main Street Murfreesboro's board has been encouraging the city to focus on for the historic downtown.  They emphasized the need to have strong collaborative partners in a downtown to be effective, including Main Street programs, local colleges and universities, chambers, and local business owners.  

The Saturday Market Manager, Linda Weeks, finished the presentations off on Thursday by sharing what makes Murfreesboro's downtown farmer's market one of the most successful in the state!  "She is a jewel," exclaimed one of the attendees about Linda.  Passionate about serving and promoting the vendors that are represented in the farmer's market, helping them to better their spaces at the market and their marketing on social media, Linda has grown the market by doubling its size over the last four years.  Main Street Murfreesboro talked about the opportunity to add corporate sponsors to the farmer's market, allowing a new collaboration with larger businesses marketing themselves to an extensive community group at the market and benefitting from the financial support they bring. They also shared the importance of community partnership at the market, bringing in local businesses, nonprofits, activities for families, and making your farmer's market a placemaking event to put your downtown on the map.

Dr. Caroll Van West, the Tennessee State Historian and creator of the Heritage Center partnership with the City of Murfreesboro and Middle Tennessee State University, led a tour for the attendees on Wednesday afternoon of the downtown.  His rich historical knowledge of the changes of the buildings over the last century downtown entertained guests and brought a great perspective on the importance of preservation in the Main Street programs and all downtowns across our state.  

Thank you to Wilson Bank and Trust for sponsoring lunch for attendees.

Main Street Murfreesboro appreciates all their supporters and partners.  Wilson Bank and Trust sponsored the lunch for attendees at the conference, provided by Marina's on the Square.  Andy Jakes, President of Wilson Bank in Rutherford County, spoke to the crowd on the importance of having local businesses as sponsors who want to give back to the community and support nonprofits.  Wilson Bank is a great example of one such sponsor for Main Street Murfreesboro, as the long-standing presenting sponsor of the Friday Night Live Concert Series.  

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