By Press Release Submitted to Published May 21, 2016 at 7:04 AM

The premier conference for doers, makers and innovators in downtown revitalization is coming to Milwaukee on May 23-25. Recently renamed the Main Street Now Conference, the annual conference for Main Street America brings together a coast-to-coast network of city planners, community revitalization professionals, volunteers and elected officials working to sustain the future of America’s historic downtowns.

Through 15 mobile workshops and 93 education sessions, the 2016 Main Street Now Conference provides a forum for best practices on igniting and sustaining the redevelopment of small towns, mid-sized downtowns and urban commercial districts. Using Wisconsin as a living laboratory, attendees will examine how to strengthen downtowns of all sizes through a variety of tools, including supporting creative economies, attracting tech entrepreneurs, and developing small business. The conference, now in its 31st year, is the nation’s foremost educational and networking event for those engaged in revitalizing traditional commercial districts and downtowns through historic preservation-based community development.

"Main Streets remain relevant, vibrant and essential to our nation’s economy and quality of life," said Patrice Frey, president and CEO, National Main Street Center. "With Wisconsin as our backdrop and source of inspiration, the Main Street Now conference gives practitioners from across the country the opportunity to connect on how to make our older and historic commercial districts places that are economically competitive and socially connected,"

Conference highlights include:

  • Keynote address in the Milwaukee Theatre by Peter Kageyama, author of "For the Love of Cities," and "Love Where you Live," on how ordinary citizens can do extraordinary things for their cities, and the importance of human connection in creating economically vibrant places;
  • The announcement of the prestigious 2016 Great American Main Street Award winners;
  • 15 Mobile workshops to Milwaukee and southeastern Wisconsin Main Street communities, including Beloit to see its thriving arts scene and river front, the recently-revived, long-vacant Pabst Brewery complex, and Milwaukee’s hip South Side neighborhoods, Walkers Point and Bay View;
  • Screening of the documentary film, "Urban Century: America’s Return to Main Street which takes a look at how historic downtowns can help us cope with economic recession, climate change, and America’s obesity epidemic, and
  • Closing plenary address by Rocky Marcoux, Milwaukee’s Commissioner of the Department of City Development who has led successful efforts to bring new employers and energy to Milwaukee’s urban neighborhoods.

The 2016 Main Street Now Conference is co-hosted by the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation.

On-site registration is available at the Wisconsin Center in the Palm Garden. The conference is open to members of the media, but they must check in at the registration desk to receive their credentials. The public may purchase tickets for tours pending availability.

For conference updates, follow @MainStreetsConf and the hashtag, #NOW16 on Twitter. More information on the program is online at

About the National Main Street Center

Originally launched as a program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation in 1980, the National Main Street Center pioneered a transformative, grassroots strategy to help flagging downtowns counteract booming suburban growth. This novel approach was in stark contrast to the urban renewal projects that were destroying commercial districts and neighborhoods all over the country. Today, the Center leads a coast to coast network of revitalization programs – known collectively as Main Street America – who share both a commitment to place and to building stronger communities through preservation-based economic development.