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St. Pete to host Florida Main Street Conference

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

St. Pete will play host to an annual meeting of Florida Main Streets this August. The Florida Main Street Conference will be at the Vinoy August 17-19 for the program’s 30th anniversary.

The conference will host more some 50 “Main Street” communities including our own Edge District, Grand Central and Deuces Live Main Street. The three communities are co-hosting the conference. All are accredited by the National Main Street Center.

“The City of St. Petersburg welcomes the 2015 Florida Main Street Annual Conference and looks forward to showcasing our beautiful Sunshine City to all of the conference attendees. We are especially pleased to highlight our strong economic development and community growth since last hosting this conference in 2003,” said St. Pete Mayor Rick Kriseman. “Much of that growth in our historic districts was encouraged and fostered through the efforts of our Main Street Programs — Deuces Live, the EDGE District, and the Grand Central District. St. Petersburg has been greatly enhanced by their revitalization, historic preservation, and community-building efforts, and we are proud of their shared success in bringing the Florida Main Street Annual Conference here.”

This year’s theme is “Arts and Culture on Main Street” and will focus on how to integrate the arts into Main Street concepts.

According to the National Main Street Center, Main Streets are “the traditional center for social, cultural and economic activity for their communities.”

Each of St. Pete’s three designated Main Street communities feature local businesses, including art galleries and studios, craft breweries, gastro pubs and other eclectic eateries. Main Streets are said to represent a community’s culture and identity.

The conference theme will focus on areas like promotion, design, economic development and organization. Participants will attend a series of educational events as well as social, historical and educational tours.

Secretary of State Ken Detzner will present awards to communities, volunteers and agencies that have been found to further the Main Street focus in their areas. Those awards will be handed out during a banquet at the Vinoy August 18.

Author Peter Kageyama will be the keynote speaker. Kageyama wrote For the Love of Cities and Love Where you Live. He’s a St. Pete resident and has spoken in cities worldwide about community development and the impact small groups can have on entire communities.

Janelle Irwin has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. She also hosts a weekly political talk show on WMNF Community radio. Janelle formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a diehard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and the ongoing Pier debacle. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also the devoted mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder. To contact, email

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