A Taste of Red Wing DTMS’s Annual Meeting

I had the pleasure of speaking at Red Wing Downtown Main Street’s Annual Meeting during February, 2012.  What follows is an excerpt of that presentation.

Emily Northey Presentation to RWDTMS Annual Meeting

Of the other Designated Main Street Communities in Minnesota…

The Willmar Design Center harnesses community volunteers like there is no tomorrow – a team of over three hundred last year – and has spun off their farmer’s market into a community owned grocery store. The store now has its own board, a pro forma, 100 paid members, and is scheduled to open in 2012-13. Beverly, the Design Center’s manager, is presenting about the project at the National Main Streets Conference in Baltimore this April. The Willmar Design Center has also become the champion for historic preservation in Willmar – a community without the legacy Red Wing enjoys.

Faribault Main Street has dramatically grown their volunteer base and initiative in the past two years. Following a market analysis conducted using their technical assistance from Minnesota Main Street, they identified diversity as a major issue to address this year and for years to come.  Their mayor, who also sites on their board, heard the message and is forming a Mayor’s task force to examine how it can be approached from the perspective of the entire community. Faribault Main Street will have an active role in the task force and in implementing the plan as it relates to downtown.

Brainerd Main Street began to help the community and downtown prepare for, endure, and take advantage of a multi-million dollar street construction and sewer improvement project in the heart of their historic downtown.  Using their technical assistance this winter, six businesses benefited from one-on-one visual merchandising consultations from a nationally recognized expert last month.  Another two dozen took part in a visual merchandising workshop to make their businesses more appealing and ultimately more profitable.

New Ulm stands out at doing an excellent job with recruiting retail businesses to their downtown using an incentives package titled, “Head Start to the Heart of the City.”  Though not all new retail businesses downtown take advantage of the incentives, having it in place sends a strong message to entrepreneurs that they are welcome and that there is a support system in place for them.  In part because of this program, New Ulm’s Downtown has almost no vacancies today.

Red Wing was among the first four communities to apply to become Designated Main Street Programs in Minnesota in 2010.  Your application was and still is the most thorough (and thickest) that we’ve received.  I still use it as a reference for information about Red Wing to this day.

Since then, Red Wing Downtown Main Street (RWDTMS) has dramatically increased the number of Friends of RWDTMS, is experiencing increased name recognition beyond the downtown area – including a sense that downtown is the center of the entire city. RWDTMS has excelled at creating (or joining) partnerships – Red Wing Innovation Incubator, Idea Slam, to name a couple – that are then able to do more than any one group could do on its own. And finally, you have fostered, grown, and now enjoy broad-based support from all sectors of the community.

Whether you’re shopping downtown, eating downtown, living downtown, or just wandering through – remember that great downtowns and Main Streets don’t just happen. It takes the concerted and intentional work of the entire community (and maybe a few visitors) to make it happen and keep it healthy.

Thank *you* for doing all that you do to make Red Wing Downtown Main Street a wonderful organization and a wonderful place to be.

Emily Northey
Minnesota Main Street Program Coordinator

Minnesota Main Street has been financed in part with funds provided by the State of Minnesota from the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund through the Minnesota Historical Society and with support from the Blandin Foundation.


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