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  1. Lt. Governor

Illinois Main Street “Open for Business” 

Educational and Networking Conference to be Held September 12-14 in Quincy  

SPRINGFIELD, IL – The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) and Illinois Main Street will host an educational and networking conference Wed, Sept 12-Fri, Sept14 at the Oakley Lindsay Center in Quincy. Illinois Main Street is a historic preservation-based economic development program that applies the comprehensive Main Street Four Point Approach® to the revitalization of Illinois’ downtowns and neighborhood commercial districts.  Developed by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the Main Street approach focuses on four key tenets: Organization, Design, Promotion, and Economic Restructuring.

The conference will give community and economic development professionals from around the state an opportunity to network and learn about innovative new techniques and practices to rejuvenate Illinois’ downtown areas. The theme of this year’s conference is “We’re Open for Business.”

“With Illinois Main Street back in business, more small towns will have access to the tools that make this program a proven way to spur local reinvestment,” said Lt. Governor Sheila Simon, who also serves as ambassador of the Illinois Main Street Program. “I look forward to working with Main Street communities new and old to strengthen our downtowns and promote grassroots economic development.”

Conference highlights include:
  • TIF 101: More than just the basics of how to create and potential uses, this session will explore the possibilities of TIF Districts and how to make them a true tool for downtown development.
  • Engaging Youth on Main Street: This session will explore ways to get youth more involved in their Main Street programs and excited about preservation.
  • Zoning and Planning Tools to Create A Vibrant Downtown: How do Planning Directors view downtown revitalization? What tools are available to make downtowns come alive? Find out how zoning and planning work hand in hand to give a community the downtown they’ve always dreamed of.
  • Optional educational and architectural walking tours

On Thurs, Sept 13, there will be an awards dinner honoring Main Street communities receiving the Lieutenant Governor's Award for Excellence in Design, Promotion, Economic Restructuring, and Organization.  There will also be an award for "Volunteer of the Year."  

This year’s keynote speaker is Elissa Hillary, executive director of Local First, the largest organization supporting and advocating for locally owned businesses in the Midwest. Local First represents more than 550 member businesses throughout West Michigan.

Over the past few years, the State of Illinois has been investing in efforts that support the creation of local, sustainable jobs as a way to strengthen the Illinois economy. One area of focus has been increasing the local food market in Illinois.  In 2009, Illinois established the Local Food, Farms, and Jobs Act. In addition to creating a council to facilitate the growth of an Illinois-based local farm and food product economy, the act also directs state agencies to purchase at least 20 percent of their food locally by 2020. One particular goal for this program is to increase the amount of local food served in public schools. The Illinois Department of Agriculture has also launched a newly-designed Illinois Product logo to help consumers better identify products made in Illinois.

Nationally, Main Street communities and their local programs have created nearly 915,000 jobs and represent public and private reinvestment of over $48 billion. In Illinois, 44 communities hold the Illinois Main Street designation. The Illinois Main Street program is housed under the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. Last year, Governor Pat Quinn, who is a strong proponent of the program, named Lt. Governor Sheila Simon as the program ambassador.

For a complete conference schedule and list of speakers or to register for the 2012 Illinois Main Street Conference, click here.