Ideas, networking, and success stories aplenty were present at last week’s Oregon Main Street Conference, hosted in downtown Independence. Economic development gurus, downtown association members, business owners, and more gathered to learn from one another and offer personal connection during the three-day conference, which included pivotal sessions featuring Independence city staff. The conference theme this year was “Idea to Implementation.”

Oregon Main Street program coordinator Sheri Stuart and Mayor McArdle kicked off the conference by welcoming the over 200 attendees at an early awards session.

“Independence has always been this magical place,” said Oregon Main Street program coordinator Sheri Stuart. “I think this community really embodies our conference theme.”


A packed agenda

Economic development director, Shawn Irvine, presented on Independence’s role in creating a bike-friendly community, including the success of the Bike Indy Oregon program. Downtown Manager Courtney Williams shared her experience creating and leading business support programs like the Love Local scratch-its and Marketing Mondays. Lastly, city planner Fred Evander presented on the transformation Independence has seen in its downtown and the many elements it takes to build an attractable space for people to experience.

Attendees were treated with engaging walking tours about Independence as well, such as our riverfront revitalization, downtown building rehabilitation, a MI Trolley tour, and even a mini-Ghost Walk.

“It was an honor to host the OMS conference, and it was exciting to see how busy the downtown was those days,” said Irvine. “I really appreciate the partnership we had with IDA and the Oregon Main Street staff to bring the conference to town, showcase what has happened here, and give an economic boost to our downtown businesses.”

A storied history

Oregon Main Street is a division of state-funded Oregon Heritage and Main Street America, an organization committed to strengthening communities through preservation-based economic development in older and historic downtowns and neighborhood commercial districts. In recent years, the city has helped win three Oregon Main Street grants for the renovation of the old city hall building, the Gilgamesh building, and the Independence Opera House.

The city of Independence thanks everyone who helped make this conference a success, especially Oregon Main Street, for coordinating and convening the event. We look forward to creating stronger main streets in Oregon and continuing to connect them with the people who make them run.