Downtown Delaware

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For more information about the day's events, please download the 2016 Downtown Delaware Revitalize Conference Agenda.

Registration closes Monday, March 14!

Conference Topics

The Power of Downtown and Placemaking
Downtowns and Placemaking have long played unheralded roles in the local economy. Joe’s keynote will focus on the role downtowns and Placemaking play in the current big economic picture, their importance in the future, and what communities are doing to strengthen them. Learn about current and coming demographic changes and their impact on downtowns, the importance of buying local, downtown's impact on the local economy and what a community can do to promote development.  

Lighting Up The Queen!
In April 2011, World Cafe Live at the Queen opened its second facility at the Queen Theater in Wilmington, DE. Hear details about how this ambitious project grew out of a four-year private/public collaborative effort among Real Entertainment Group, Buccini/Pollin Group, the City of Wilmington, and an impressive list of corporate, foundation and individual supporters. Together this group put together $25 million in funding to restore and re-open the 45,000 square foot historic Queen Theatre as the cornerstone and catalyst for a $300 million effort to revive the historic lower Market Street corridor in the heart of downtown Wilmington.

Reimagining Laurel, Delaware:  Protecting and Developing Natural Assets to Revitalize a Rural Community
A Chesapeake Bay water quality project took a strange twist when local stakeholders sought assistance to "bring people and jobs back to downtown Laurel." Hear how a professional team including planners, a landscape architect, tourism consultants and conservationists has engaged the community in designing for economic rebirth around the natural assets of the Broad Creek and surrounding areas in this small municipality in southwestern Sussex County, DE.
The Magic of Connection: Placemaking First Hand       
From over 450 communities across North America, Ben Muldrow has seen the power of Placemaking first hand. Hear examples of creative, dynamic ideas from successes on the ground and see for yourself the magic that is created when people connect with their place.

Using Placemaking and Historic Preservation Tools to Build Complete Communities in Delaware
This “mini-session” will showcase placemaking and historic preservation tools within the online Delaware Complete Communities Planning Toolbox ( Developed by the Institute for Public Administration (IPA) at the University of Delaware, the Toolbox is a resource for community leaders and local government officials to utilize complete-communities planning approaches to create “attractive, inclusive, efficient, healthy, & resilient places.”

A Creative Approach to Placemaking in Wilmington
Creative Placemaking is a burgeoning field of practice that expands the traditional placemaking ideology to place the arts, artists and the creative sector at the heart of the strategy. Wilmington’s Creative District is based on the principles of creative placemaking. The vision is now being realized! Learn about projects that are well underway and what is in the pipeline.


Keynote and Speakers

Governor Jack Markell
The Honorable Jack Markell, Governor, Delaware

Jack Markell has served as Governor of Delaware since 2009, after being elected in 2008 (67% of the vote) and re-elected in 2012 (69%). He is term-limited and will complete his time as Governor in January 2017.

During his tenure, according to Gallup, Delaware has gone “from one of the lowest-ranking states (in terms of job creation) in 2008 and 2009 to one of the top-ranking in 2013 and 2014. Delaware holds the distinction of being the only state anywhere along the Eastern seaboard to be in the top 10.” Read More

Mayor Williams
The Honorable Dennis P. Williams, Mayor, City of Wilmington

Born in Wilmington on January 8, 1953, Dennis P. Williams was inaugurated on his 60th birthday as mayor of the city where he has spent his entire life.

Growing up on Wilmington's East Side, Mayor Williams attended Northeast Elementary School (now the East Side Charter School) and graduated in 1971 from Pierre S. du Pont High School. He looked up to his father, a post office manager who learned to speak French and Spanish fluently to better serve his customers. His teachers, especially Guy Molock and Karen Denton Johnson, served as mentors, as did Ernest Webster, a social worker at Kingswood Community Center who dedicated himself to keeping young men and women on the right path. Read More

Hanifa Shabazz
Hanifa Shabazz, City Council 4th District, Wilmington DE
Dr. Hanifa G. N. Shabazz was elected to her first four-year City Council term in 2004. Today, she is honored to be serving her third term as the representative of more than 9,000 residents of the City's 4th District - one of the most diverse district in Wilmington. Hanifa is a native Wilmingtonian who was born and raised on the eastside of the City. She has been an entrepreneur and owner of multiple businesses for more than 30 years during which time she honed her skills as a leader, problem-solver and innovator. Today, in addition to serving on City Council, Hanifa is a Talent Acquisition Specialist at Connections CSP, Inc. She also actively serves on the board of Main Street Wilmington.

Bernice Whaley, Director, Delaware Economic Development Office

In May 2015, Bernice Whaley was nominated by Delaware Governor Jack Markell to serve as the Director of the Delaware Economic Development Office where she now serves as a Secretary in Governor Markell’s cabinet and is responsible for the business and economic strategies for the State of Delaware.  Ms. Whaley believes the ongoing revitalization of Delaware’s downtowns supports a key component of successful business recruitment in the state due to the quality of life opportunities these commercial districts are increasingly offering.  Bernice brings to the position innovative public and private sector experience. Read More

Joe Borgstrom, Principal, Place & Main Advisors, LLC. 

Joe Borgstrom is a Principal at Place & Main Advisors, LLC.  He is an accomplished professional in the fields of downtown Redevelopment, Community and Economic Development, Main Street and Placemaking.  His 18 year career includes executive management at the local and state level, project financial restructuring and evaluation, fund development, foreign direct investment recruitment, program creation and management, public speaking and consulting.In addition, Joe is one of key implementers of the successful MIplace partnership, a statewide effort to increase placemaking in Michigan using state departments and statewide partner associations such as the Michigan Municipal League, Michigan Association of Realtors, and the Small Business Association of Michigan. He currently leads the creation of the “MIplace Development timeline” designed to not only map out the development process for a successful local placemaking project, but to connect it to the various potential state departments’ resources.

Hal Real, Founder & President, Real Entertainment Group, Inc. / World Cafe Live at the Queen

Hal Real is President of Real Entertainment Group, creator and operator of the nationally-acclaimed World Cafe Live at the Queen music, restaurant and event venues located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Wilmington, Delaware. In 2008 he helped a team of artists and educators launch Live Connections, a nonprofit organization that creates innovative boundary-crossing music programs for children, special needs populations and the community-at-large. Currently he is board Chairman of LiveConnections, Vice Chair of the Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation, and Co-Chair of the Wilmington Business Leaders Network and the Wilmington CEO Executive Summit. He also serves on the board of Wilmington Freire Charter School, Philadelphia’s Fringe Arts and the Chairman’s Council of the Philadelphia Zoo.

Dr. Jules Bruck, PLA, ASLA, APLD is Associate Professor of Landscape Design at the University of Delaware 

Dr. Bruck teaches foundations of landscape design, field sketching, and planting design. She also teaches landscape design courses at Longwood Gardens & Mt. Cuba Center.  She is a registered landscape architect (PA & DE) and a permanently certified member of the Association of Professional Landscape Designers.  She owns and operates Evolution Landscape Design, LLC with her husband, Tony.  With a love of travel and interest in experiential education, Dr. Bruck has conducted many study abroad trips to highlight design in both Brazil and Europe.  She recently chaired a committee to develop a new major for the University of Delaware – a Bachelor’s of Science in Landscape Architecture.  Recent design projects include ‘The Ramble’ in Laurel, DE and Discovery Playground in Seaford, DE.  Current research interests include design-based learning and public perception of sustainable landscape practices such as designing for ecosystem services.  Dr. Bruck has a Ph.D. from Texas A&M University.

Ed Lewandowski, Acting-director of the Marine Advisory Service for the Delaware Sea Grant College Program

Ed Lewandowski coordinates the university’s Sustainable Coastal Communities Initiative, a position he has held since October 2011.  He is responsible for providing oversight and management for a variety of initiatives, including community-level land use planning, working waterfronts preservation and enhancement, economic development, open space protection, and marine recreation and tourism projects.  Prior to joining the University, Ed spent 13 years with the non-profit Delaware Inland Bays National Estuary Program, serving his final seven years with the organization as its Executive Director.  He holds a Master’s degree in Organizational Leadership and obtained his undergraduate degree in Marine Biology. Ed has been appointed to a number of public commissions and councils including the Delaware Nutrient Management Commission, the Delaware Natural Areas Advisory Council, the Delaware Association of Professional Engineers, the Town of Bridgeville Planning Commission, and most recently, the board of directors of Sussex Habitat for Humanity.

Ben Muldrow, Partner at Arnett Muldrow & Associates

As Partner at Arnett Muldrow & Associates, Ben Muldrow is responsible for all community marketing and branding functions of the Greenville, SC-based urban planning firm. Ben helps communitiesto develop their brand identity through an open process including public design sessions and collaborative small groups. He has designed new branding and marketing elements for revitalization projects in over 400 communities nationwide and has worked in twelve of Delaware’s downtown communities, providing new brands and participating in the development of master plans.  A Greenville native and a graduate of the University of South Carolina, Muldrow was Strategic Branding Manager for NewSouth Communications and Owner of Mudduck Design, an advertising and graphic design company specializing in design for residential home builders, developers, real estate, and support businesses in the industry.

Jim Rapp and Dave Wilson, Principals, Conservation Community Consulting LLC. 
Conservation Community Consulting LLC combines over 40 years of experience in the conservation and nature tourism fields. Principals Jim Rapp and Dave Wilson have spent their careers on the Delmarva Peninsula and throughout Maryland working with local governments to promote ecotourism and to protect the natural beauty that fosters it. Rapp held the director post at the Salisbury Zoo for 15 years before being tapped in 2007 as the director of Delmarva Low Impact Tourism Experiences, a business-sponsored nature tourism outfit created to entice tourists with hiking, biking, cycling and birding trails and events it helped spawn. Rapp currently serves as the executive director of the Hazel Outdoor Discovery Center and is the past president and current board member of the Wicomico Environmental Trust, Lower Eastern Shore Heritage Council, Assateague Coastal Trust and Nanticoke Watershed Alliance.CCC specializes in nature tourism assessments, event coordination and planning, as well as social media and outreach needs for conservation organizations. CCC helps write and choose appropriate grants for organizations, develop and implement outreach campaigns, and work with local, state, and federal governments to direct policy for tourism and wildlife needs.

Marcia Scott
Marcia S. Scott, Policy Scientist University of Delaware Institute for Public Administration
Ms. Scott has a broad range of expertise in city management, public policy analysis, land use and transportation planning, economic development, and grants management. She has managed and served as a principal investigator on numerous applied-research projects that focus on improving mobility and interconnectivity, advancing sustainable land use and transportation planning, fostering mobility-friendly design, healthy and complete communities, complete streets, improving multi-modal transportation options, and assessing paratransit services in Delaware. Ms. Scott’s work with IPA has focused on developing a framework to plan for Complete Communities in Delaware; launching an online Delaware Complete Communities Planning Toolbox (; publishing local government resource guides to implement Healthy Communities principles, Complete Streets strategies, and best practices for winter maintenance of pedestrian infrastructure; and crafting an online Toolkit for a Healthy Delaware ( Ms. Scott earned a Master of City Management degree (MCM) from East Tennessee State University, Tenn. and Bachelor’s degree in Sociology (BA) from Gettysburg College, Pa.

Lee Ann Walling
Lee Ann Walling, Certified AICP Planner and LEED Accredited Professional
Lee Ann Walling is a nationally certified AICP planner and LEED accredited professional, specializing in LEED's Neighborhood Development rating system. She is principal of Cedar Creek Sustainable Planning Services, based in Sussex County. She retired from the state after 20 years with former Governor Ruth Ann Minner and DNREC, where she served as Chief of Planning. She has been working with the University of Delaware's Sustainable Coastal Communities Initiative on projects related to the vitality and sustainability of smaller towns. She is also working the Town of Laurel on its comprehensive plan update and Downtown Development District application. Certified in graphic and web design by the Delaware College of Art and Design, she brings a unique skill set to her work with the University and towns.

Michael J. Hare
Michael J. Hare, Senior Vice President for Development, The Buccini/Pollin Group

Mr. Hare joined The Buccini/Pollin Group in March 2008 as Senior Vice President for Development. His responsibilities include development management, acquisitions, public investment and government relations. He currently serves as Project Director for the Chester Waterfront Redevelopment efforts. Prior to joining the Buccini/Pollin Group, Mr. Hare served as the Deputy Director of the Riverfront Development Corporation of Delaware (RDC), and prior to that, was employed by the Delaware Economic Development Office, most recently serving as a Senior Development Specialist prior to being assigned to the RDC in 1995 by Governor Thomas R. Carper. A native of Wilmington, Mr. Hare is a graduate of Archmere Academy where he currently serves on the Board of Directors, and received a B.S. in Public Administration from St. Joseph’s University. He also attended Fels Center of Government at the University of Pennsylvania. Mike also serves as co-chair for the URBAN Land Institute’s (ULI) Delaware Regional Chapter

Dr. Carrie Gray
Dr. Carrie W. Gray, Managing Director of Wilmington Renaissance Corporation (WRC)

Since August 2005, Carrie Gray has served as the Managing Director of Wilmington Renaissance Corporation (WRC). She has worked for WRC since July 1998. In May 2014, WRC announced its most ambitious project in its 23-year history – to establish a Creative District in the underutilized neighborhood west of Market Street, facilitating the revitalization of the neighborhood and infusing new residential and unique work-space opportunities for current residents, artists, makers and tech innovators. Carrie is a highly engaged member of the Wilmington community, has served on dozens of nonprofit boards of directors and committees and holds a Doctor of Business Administration from Wilmington University in Wilmington, Delaware, a Master of Science degree in Public Relations from the S.I. Newhouse School of Communications at Syracuse University and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication from Elon University in Elon, North Carolina.

Don’t miss your chance to celebrate successes in business districts statewide!  Downtown Delaware will recognize individuals and organizations who best embody its mission of providing our State’s historic downtowns, communities and small businesses with tools to revitalize their commercial districts, increase entrepreneurism and innovation, and enhance quality of place with the 2016 EXCELLENCE in DOWNTOWN REVITALIZATION AWARDS!

Diane Laird, State Coordinator for Downtown Delaware, Delaware Economic Development Office (DEDO)

Diane Laird serves as State Coordinator for Downtown Delaware, a resource center of the Delaware Economic Development Office (DEDO). In this role, she coordinates revitalization services to eighteen designated Main Street towns and Affiliates throughout the state, while providing support to downtown entrepreneurs and small business owners. Diane has garnered nearly half a million dollars in USDA Rural Development funding to support rural communities and is the initiator of Downtown Delaware’s Project Pop Up, a statewide program that simultaneously engages entrepreneurs and reduces downtown vacancy. She has served as Co-Chair and is an Emeritus member of the National Main Street Executive Council, has co-authored several articles for Main Street News, and regularly co-leads educational sessions at the annual National Main Street Conference. Diane is also a watercolor artist an owner of Simple Joys LLC.

Ken Anderson
Ken Anderson, Director of Entrepreneurial and Small Business Support, Delaware Economic Development Office (DEDO)

Ken Anderson is Director, Entrepreneurial and Small Business Support for the Delaware Economic Development Office (DEDO). Since January 2012, Ken has served as the Chair of the Governor’s Supplier Diversity Council, (GSDC), charged with implementation of the Governor’s initiatives centered on support for small businesses, including minority, women, veterans and individual business owners with DisAbilities in State procurements. Ken has initiated and overseen many DEDO initiatives including Kauffman FastTrac Entrepreneurial Training, One Million by One Million (virtual incubator), the Delaware Emerging Technology Center (DE ETC), ETC Secrets of Success Seminars, and co-sponsors the Downtown Delaware initiatives such as the three day eCommerce training and Project Pop Up. Ken’s latest personal entrepreneurial project is Shoemodelz, LLC. He is a graduate of the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland and attended Thomas Jefferson School of Law in San Diego, California.

Lorraine Dion
Lorraine Goodman Dion, CMSM

For more than 35 years, Lorraine Dion has been a passionate practitioner and advocate for historic preservation and the arts. Lorraine has served as the Executive Director of three Delaware “Main Street” programs and more recently, five years as the Director of Special Events and Public Relations for Kent County Tourism and in 2008, became Delaware’s first nationally Certified Main Street Manager (CMSM). Lorraine is a firm believer in the importance of utilizing the arts and historic preservation as an economic development tool to revitalize and promote the historic commercial districts of Delaware’s downtown areas as destinations. She understands the importance of promoting the assets of a downtown destination to ensure that residents and visitors have enjoyable, entertaining and educational cultural experiences.

Doug Loescher
Doug Loescher

Doug Loescher brings more than 30 years of experience in nonprofit leadership and community development, leading successful initiatives on both the local and national level. Before entering private practice, he served as Director of the National Trust Main Street Center for 10 years, helping to build a network of successful state and local downtown revitalization initiatives throughout the U.S. Doug has co-authored several publications, including the most comprehensive manual in the field on commercial district development: Revitalizing Main Street. Currently, as principal for Civic Strategies Group, Doug supports leadership and program development in the nonprofit and community development sector, with an emphasis on collaborative solution-building and organizational effectiveness.

Denita L. Thomas
DENITA L. THOMAS, Director of the City of Wilmington’s Small and Minority Business Enterprise Office

Denita L. Thomas, Director of the City of Wilmington’s Small and Minority Business Enterprise Office. With nearly 20 years of service in the community and economic development arena, Denita is a seasoned management professional with a proven and unwavering commitment to small and minority business development. Prior to joining the Mayor’s Office, Denita served as a professional consultant supporting the efforts of government agencies, corporations, non-profits, and small/minority businesses seeking to create economically-viable and sustainable business opportunities with positive economic returns. Denita is currently pursuing an Executive MBA at Villanova University with a focus in organizational design and leadership. She is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. and the Metropolitan Wilmington Urban League.

Click here to Register now!

Registration closes Monday, March 14!