aLABama Downtown Laboratory

Date: Aug 21, 2017 - Aug 23, 2017
Time: 11:00am – 12:00pm
Host organization: Main Street Alabama
Phone Contact: 205.516.4506
Email Contact:
Location: The Mane Room 310 North Pine Street Florence, AL 35630

Join Main Street Alabama August 21-23 in Florence for the 4th Annual aLABama Downtown Laboratory as we examine how focusing on details can catapult your revitalization efforts.  Learn how cultivating volunteers, developing an engaged board, building strong partnerships with financial supporters and using public relations effectively can take your Main Street program to the next level.  It’s all in the details this year as we focus on the Organizational point of the Four Point Approach®.

  • Carol WeismanPresident of Board Buildersis an internationally known speaker, trainer and consultant specializing in volunteerism, fund raising and governance. She has worked with a wide range of clients from Sing Omaha to the National Council of Voluntary Organization in London England to the Bermuda Health Care Foundation. She has served on 38 boards and has been president of 8.        
  • Dr. David Ivan, Michigan State University, is internationally recognized for his research on successful community change.  He provides oversight to a team of more than 65 MSU Extension members who specialize in natural resources management, financial literacy, entrepreneurship and more. Ivan has over 15 years of progressive leadership experiences with MSU Extension. In addition to serving as GMI Interim Director, he also served as a Regional Director and Clinton County Extension Director. Ivan has provided innovative Extension programming in economic development and is frequently sought as a guest speaker on community revitalization. He holds a bachelor’s and a doctorate from MSU as well as an MBA from Penn State University.
  • Joe Borgstrom is an accomplished professional in the fields of Downtown Redevelopment, Community and Economic Development, Main Street and Placemaking. His 20 year career includes executive management, project financial structuring and evaluation, fund development, foreign direct investment recruitment, program management, public speaking and consulting. He and his teams have used state and local incentives to leverage more than $2.2 billion in private investment into communities.



PreLab Session 12:00 PM - 2:00 PM: Urban Communities Luncheon with Tripp Muldrow, Partner, Arnett Muldrow. Catered by Odette, River Room, First Metro Bank 325 South Pine Street.

Session Description: Urban Main Streets across the United States use a variety of funding options for operations and even capital projects.  Tripp Muldrow will explore these options (including creative models), discuss some of the pros and cons of each, and examine other ways to raise funds to support your program, implement projects, and even explore public/provate partnership projects in urban settings. *Separate Ticket Required-Limited Seating

11:00 AM - 2:30 PM: Conference Registration Shoals Theater 123 North Seminary Street - pick up conference packets and tickets here.

2:30 PM - 3:30 PM: Conference Welcome Shoals Theater 123 North Seminary Street

Opening Plenary 3:30 PM - 5:00 PM: Opening plenary featuring Carol Weisman, President of Board Builders: Recruiting, Rewarding and Retaining a Board with a Passion for MissionShoals Theater 123 North Seminary Street

Great board members don’t grow on trees. There has to be a strategy in finding them, orienting them and keeping them involved. You will learn: Where to find board members who are different from your current members; How to create a mentoring program; How to develop a board orientation that is so terrific your members will want to bring their friends and relatives; How to let your trustees go when you no longer need their particular skills, talents or expertise without inciting hurt or a nuclear reaction; Some board members already are passionate about your mission. Some need to be educated. You will learn how to create a “mission moment;" How to reinforce the behavior you need while discouraging the inappropriate; How to create a board that is mission focused, joyful, productive and has fun.

Social 6:30 PM - 9:00 PM 'Spin Some Time with Us' presented by Florence Main Street  The Shoals Gold Record Room 201 South Court Street

Come behind the velvet rope and join Florence Main Street along with the chefs and musicans that make downtown Florence really sing!  We will be gathering for tasty tunes in the world famous Shoals Gold Record Room. Hear some of Florence's local talent and experience tasty bites from downtown restaurants. The event will begin at 6 p.m. and will come to a close at 9 p.m. This event is included with your LAB registration but you must make reservations on the registration page *  


8:00 AM - 8:30 AM: Registration, The Mane Room, 310 North Pine Street

8:30 AM - 9:00 AM: Coffee and Welcome, The Mane Room, 310 North Pine Street

9:00 AM - 10:30 AM: Volunteering Your Time While Meeting Your Personal and Professional Goals with Carol Weisman, President, Board Builders.

Session Description:  Your time is limited, you might want to change careers, spend more time with your kids, or find a partner to have kids with. You might want to exercise more or meet the pressures of acquiring new clients. Oh, yeah. And add one more thing to the list; Be of service to the community. This workshop is about how to make volunteering a part of the solution. To help you meet your goals and find joy in your life while helping yourself and helping others. Plus, Carol is one of the few speakers on the volunteerism/fundraising circuit who has also done stand-up!

Concurrent Sessions:

10:45 AM – 12:15 PM: Making Effective Asks with Lee Mikell, Partner, Convergent Nonprofit Solutions

Session Description: Since the demand for dollars by America’s 1.8 million nonprofit organizations is greater than the supply, learning how to make effective asks can be the difference between an organization’s success or failure. Making Effective Asks is an interactive discussion covering the following: How to find more donors and who to target; A proven method for scheduling an appointment over the phone; How to handle objections; The best days of the week and times of the day to make your phone calls; “Must Dos” in your first meeting; Strategy for making the ask; Making the ask and getting a “YES!”


10:45 AM – 12:15 PM: Using Public Relations to Market your Program with Lisa Miller, Manager of Communications and Marketing, Alabama Municipal Electric Authority

Session Description: Public relations is vital to the success of any organization. No matter how important your cause is, you should not expect that everybody will know about it or even know about your organization. Proactive communication is essential to success. From building awareness and credibility to supporting fundraising efforts, a well-executed, strategic public relations program can make the difference between achieving one's goals or falling desperately short of them. Come learn some tips to illustrate how easy it is to launch your public relations—no matter how large or small your organization.

 Lunch on your own in Downtown Florence

Concurrent Sessions: 

1:30 PM – 3:00 PM: Amp Up Your Main Street Panel Discussion facilitated by Trisha Black, Field Services Specialist, Main Street Alabama, with Panelists: Joseph Oglesby, Mayor of Monroeville, AL; Jon Hand, Executive Director of Electric Cities of Alabama; Christian Sanford, State Representative, Office of Senator Richard Shelby 

Session Description: Advocacy is an important part of the Main Street Approach, we will discuss how to amplify your efforts on the local, state and federal levels. 


NEW!! Main Street Managers Exclusive 1:30 PM - 3:00 PM: Are You Ready for Development? Joe Borgstrom, Partner, Place and Main

Session Description: Communities often want development, or more appropriately redevelopment, and think they're ready, but are they? This session will address what a good developer looks for and what a community should do to be truly prepared to engage developers. Attendees will walk away with the knowledge of pre-planning activities they can undertake in their communities and a better understanding of how the development process works.

3:00 PM -  3:15 PMBREAK

3:15 PM – 5:00 PM: Alabama Giving Tips and Pointers with Paul Kennedy, Walker County Community Foundation and Laurane James, Alabama Association of RD&D Councils 

Session Description:  Ever wonder what a potential funder was really looking for in an application or ask? Paul & Lauranne will give you tips and pointers on improving your chances of getting your foot in the door and one step closer to funding your project.

6:30 PM - 7:00 PM: A Toast to Excellence.  Award banquet attendess are invited to join Regions for a celebratory cocktail before the Awards of Excellence at the Historic Sweetwater Depot, 502 South Royal Avenue

7:00 PM - 9:00 PM: Main Street Alabama Awards of Excellence at the Historic Sweetwater Depot, 502 South Royal Ave  This event is included with your Awards of Excellence ticket but you must make reservations on the registration page *  


Main Street Alabama Awards of Excellence Banquet 

sponsored by


Alabama Municipal Electric Authority

Join Main Street Alabama and our special guests as we celebrate the successes of our local Main Street programs with a dinner and awards program at the Historic Sweetwater Depot, 502 South Royal Ave  *Separate ticket required Limited Seating



8:00 AM - 8:30 AMRegistration and Coffee, The Mane Room, 310 North Pine Street

8:30 AM - 9:30 AM: Hope Inspires Vision with Dr. David Ivan, Michigan State University 

Session Description: Providing “hope” to a community is perhaps the greatest contribution Main Street leaders can provide to their citizens. This presentation unpacks the notion of “hope” in the context of creating a community wide vision for positive change. The presentation includes moving stories of community leaders that are creating hope in their communities by matching their citizen’s dreams with an inspiring community vision and can-do attitude.

9:30 AM -  9:45 AMBREAK 

9:45 AM – 11:30 AMThe Power of Main Street with Joe Borgstrom, Partner, Place and Main

Session Description: Downtowns and Main Streets have long played unheraled roles in the local economy. This closing session focuses on the old downtowns and Main Streets play in the current big pictue economic picture, thier importance in the future and what communities are doing to strengthen them.  Attendees will get a better understanding of current and future demographic changes and their impact on downtowns, the importance of buying local and Main Street's impact on the local economy.


PostLab Session Rural Communities Luncheon 12:30 p.m.- 2:00 p.m.: Can Small Towns be Cool? with Dr. David Ivan, Michgan State University.  Lunch catered by On The Rocks. Conference Room, Florence Lauderdale Public Library350 North Wood Avenue

Session Description:  We live in a changing world.  Achieving community vitality requires non-traditional community and economic development strategies.  Based on the successful approaches of more than 300 high performing small to mid-sized towns across North America, this session provides real strategies from real communities on enhancing entrepreneurship, strengthening human talent, addressing youth migration, and building successful regional partnerships to advance your Main Street program.  Attendees will obtain proven strategies they can implement in their own towns.  *Separate Ticket Required - Limited Seating

*All separate ticket items may be purchased as a single transaction using the link below



Main Street is a powerful network of linked communities.