All A-Twitter at the National Main Street Conference: What Inspired Conference Attendees?

3 Jun

nmscdetroitWhat were the buzzwords at this year’s Main Street Conference? Just over two weeks ago more than 1,400 community revitalization professionals nationwide turned out for the National Main Street Conference in Detroit. The conference was packed full of interesting insight, case studies and inspiration, but there were a handful of topics that really had people talking, or rather, tweeting.

After recently reading one blogger’s analysis of the trending tweets at the 2014 APA conference, this seemed like an interesting method for sharing the excitement and energy with those who were unable to attend the conference. An analysis of more than 100 tweets (#NMSCDetroit) during and post-conference reveals the trending topics that inspired conference-goers to share with their social media followers.

(Note: This analysis targeted the tweets that focused on sessions and session topics and does not include the tweets accompanied by enticing photos of local foods or about how cool the City of Detroit is. And, for those who have always heard otherwise, Detroit is actually very cool.)

Trending Topics at the 2014 National Main Street Conference, Detroit:

  • Placemaking (14%)
  • Public space (8%)
  • Historic preservation (7%)
  • Public art (7%)
  • Small business/retail (6%)
  • Crowdfunding (6%)
  • Hidden gems (5%)
  • Local foods/restaurants (5%)
  • Millennials (5%)
  • Tactical urbanism (4%)
  • Branding (4%)


  •  “A public arts or beautification strategy is not placemaking.” (@djronan)
  • “CNU and SmartGrowth welcome to placemaking that Main Street has been doing for 37 years.” (@auntjoby)
  • “MI Placemaking Curriculum: get your gov to believe #placemaking attracts talent and increases prosperity (@violetj)

Public Space:

  • “8-80 rule: make communities great by making them accessible for people ages 8-80 to walk to the park.” (@violetj)
  • “Move dining, art, and music outside. If your ordinances don’t allow it, change them.” #NMSCDetroit (@downtownokcinc)
  • “Program even the smallest spaces in your downtown. Don’t wait for a festival.” (@downtownokcinc)

Public Art:

  • “Public art installation combined w/ public seating, genius.” (@bricktown411)

Small Business/Retail:

  • “Time is the new luxury. 70% of shopping occurs after 5:00 pm. Don’t close your downtown to the opportunity.” (@rigterink1)

Hidden Gems:

  • “Celebrate your hidden gems and help visitors make a personal connection, then they’ll want to come back to live!” (@LMainStreet)


  • “Crisafulli: “Younger generations want to move to a cool place, and they’ll figure out their job situations later.” (@downtownokcinc)


  • “If you tell somebody about a great restaurant, they will drive 200 miles to your town,” says Tom Daldin of @UTRMichigan” (@MainStreetsConf)

Community Engagement:

  • “Volunteering in America has become known as ‘free labor’ it should be known as active leadership”  (@KearaHanlon)

Curious about what else had people talking at this year’s Main Street Conference? Check out #NMSCDetroit for more tweets.

Heather Garbo is the Director of Communications and Development for Downtown Colorado, Inc. Born and raised in metro Detroit, she was thrilled for the opportunity to return to her home state and learn about the exciting programs and innovative solutions that are revitalizing this community.

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