The National Main Street Center leads a movement committed to strengthening communities through preservation-based economic development in older and historic downtowns and neighborhood commercial districts. Learn more at

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Thank you for your interest in writing for the Main Street America blog. Our blog is crucial to advancing our mission of revitalizing older and historic districts and demonstrating our commitment to place and building stronger communities. We welcome guest bloggers to share success stories from around the network, provide unique perspectives on industry trends and thought leadership, and offer tools and strategies to help commercial district practitioners lead results-oriented revitalization efforts.

In advance of filling out this form, please review our guest blogging guidelines.  

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Program Overview and Application Instructions

Small businesses are vital to thriving communities. They help strengthen and diversify neighborhoods and provide pathways for innovation and entrepreneurship. But the retail landscape is changing. That’s why American Express® is teaming up with Main Street America to give 10 small business owners $10,000 each to help their businesses innovate in this evolving retail landscape. The American Express Future of Shopping Small Grant Program will celebrate small businesses across the country that are a vital part of their community. The Program is intended to support small business that have demonstrated new approaches to traditional business strategies and those businesses looking to try out creative techniques, while also helping to revitalize and strengthen older and historic commercial districts.  

Grant recipients should demonstrate commitment to both their local community and principles described in American Express’ Future of Shopping Small Guide. With insights garnered from WGSN, the Future of Shopping Small Guide is filled with actionable tips to help small business owners begin to future-proof their businesses. This guide is available here

To be eligible, entrants must complete the entire application (except for the optional demographics portion) and review the program terms and conditions. Taking applications through 11:59pm CT on March 31, 2020 or whenever 3,000 applications have been submitted - whichever is sooner.

All applications will be judged based on the following criteria:


Proposed idea represents innovative approach to retail and/or connects to principles outlined in American Express' Future of Shopping Small guide. 

Community Impact 

Business demonstrates a commitment to giving back to community and/or community engagement. Business is operating within or supporting an older or historic commercial district. 


Proposed idea is feasible/reasonable given grant amount.

For questions, please contact

With the generous support of U.S. Bank, the National Main Street Center's education and professional development program, the Main Street America Institute (MSAI), is offering a tailored learning opportunity to a select group of Main Street managers and community revitalization professionals from Iowa, Illinois, and Missouri. 

Participants in this program will receive two free online courses: Advanced Principles of Economic Vitality and a specialized course, Supporting Small Businesses on Main Street, designed to help you achieve economic vitality goals in your community. In addition to these courses, participants will receive one-on-one counseling with a U.S. Bank representative to assess the ways in which banking products can support robust entrepreneurship. 

Both courses earn credit towards the MSAI's Community Transformation Certificate. For more information on MSAI courses, certificates and schedule available at

For details on both courses, read on below for descriptions, learning objectives, and program timeline. To participate in this program, complete the application form below by February 15, 2020.

Course 1:   Advanced Principles of Economic Vitality

Live sessions held Tuesdays, March 17, 24 & 31 from 1:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. CT

How can your organization best position your commercial district program to catalyze the local economy? Let us show you the way! Join Advanced Principles of Economic Vitality for the key tools to strengthen and diversify the local economic base. This three-week course will build your skills to:

  • Engage and work with existing stakeholders to lay strong foundations for economic vitality.
  • Develop business retention, expansion and succession initiatives throughout the district.
  • Identify opportunities for strategic use of space for business and real estate development.

Taught by Hilary Greenberg, Greenberg Development Services

Course 2:   Supporting Small Businesses on Main Street

Live sessions held Thursdays, June 4, 11 & 18 from 1:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. CT

Expanding on Advanced Principles of Economic Vitality, this three-week live, online course will prepare participants to work directly with business owners in their districts to create an environment supportive of entrepreneurship. Identifying place-based assets for small business support, participants will better understand how to orchestrate a district for thriving entrepreneurship.

  • Understand the role of a commercial district revitalization professional in the support of small business owners and entrepreneurs through financial hurdles and small business planning.
  • Identify resources to support business owners and entrepreneurs.
  • Incubate new small businesses through place-based strategies. 

Taught by Matt Wagner, Amanda Elliott, and Lindsey Wallace, National Main Street Center

Program Timeline

January 20 - February 15: Applications Open

March 1: Applicants notified of program participation

March 17, 24, 31 at 1pm CT: Advanced Principles of Economic Vitality (live sessions)

April: In-Person Assignment 1: Banker/Participant Meet and Greet

June 4, 11, 18 at 1pm CT: Supporting Small Businesses on Main Street (live sessions)

June 18 - June 30: In-Person Assignment 2: Asset Identification and Support Development


What is the cost to participate in the program? 

There is no cost to participating due to the generous underwriting of these courses by U.S. Bank.

What are the requirements of the program?

Participants are required to:

1. Attend all course sessions (either live or by viewing recorded programs).

2. Complete course assignments and evaluations.

3. Participate in two in-person assignments (as noted in timeline) with U.S. Bank Representative.

Why should I apply to participate?

Professional development through the Main Street America Institute will elevate your approach to creating a business-supportive environment in your downtown. This specialized program, supported by U.S. Bank, will give you added connections and tools to foster entrepreneurship and retain businesses. 

With participation in both courses, you will be well on your way to earning MSAI's Community Transformation Certificate. After the course, MSAI staff will stay in contact to assist with any further professional development needs.

To proceed, complete the application form by February 15, 2020.

National Main Street Center