Maine Downtown Institute: All Things Downtown Planning

On September 15, 2023, Maine Downtown Center (MDC) relaunched their signature educational event, the Maine Downtown Institute. This half-day learning opportunity for communities working on downtown revitalization was entitled All Things Downtown Planning.

The Institute covered all aspects of downtown planning: why, who, the process, implementation, and potential funding. Many types of planning were discussed including: Downtown, Comprehensive, Outdoor Recreation Asset and Preservation.

Presenters included: Kate Burch, North Star Planning; Melissa Lindley, City of Gardiner; Tamara Whitmore, Gardiner Main Street Director; Kirk Mohney, Maine Historic Preservation Commission; and Terry Ann Holden, Office of Community Development, Maine Department of Economic and Community Development. There were 45 in attendance, including municipal staff, state staff, COGs, downtown organizations, building owners, business owners, community members and other nonprofit leaders with facilitation by MDC Advisory Council member Sarah Hansen.

Even though Maine does not have a state planning office, our speakers in addition to partner attendees, such as Kennebec Valley Council of Government, Maine Department of Transportation, and Maine Office of Outdoor Recreation, shared the robust resources to support this work. It was an engaging conversation talking about the resources and variety of approaches to downtown planning. Here is the list of current funding resources shared by our presenters and partners:

Mark you calendars for 2024! The MDC Downtown Conference will be returning in 2024 in two nationally accredited certified Main Street communities, Biddeford and Saco, on November 7, 2024 with an Experiential Downtown reception the evening of November 6, 2024. This will be an opportunity for anyone working on downtown revitalization and their local entrepreneurial ecosystems to join us for a day of connection, learning and inspiration.

In addition to the Downtown Conference, MDC's other events include an annual Downtown Institute, and our host of webinars and trainings throughout the year (that are open to all). For information on all current MDC events, visit

Maine Development Foundation’s Maine Downtown Center is a Main Street America® Coordinating Program and was established in 1999. MDC currently has 10 nationally designated Main Street Maine programs, 15 state designated Maine Downtown Affiliate programs, and serves as a resource for scores of other communities working on downtown revitalization and improvement efforts.

Contributed by:

Sylvie Piquet, Program Director, Maine Downtown Center

Sylvie joined the Foundation in August 2022. Sylvie first fell in love with Maine while earning her undergraduate degree at Bowdoin College. She went on to embrace so much of what Maine has to offer as a raft guide on the Kennebec River in the Forks, apprentice at the Carpenter’s Boat Shop in Pemaquid, volunteer at the Common Ground Fair in Unity, and Camp Director at Camp Beech Cliff on MDI. She is a graduate of Leadership Hancock County from her time living Downeast. Sylvie most recently worked as program director at an arts and culture nonprofit, innovating programs to strengthen the creative industries in Northwest Colorado. She is pursuing a Master of Social Work at UNE and is grateful to call Maine home again. Sylvie lives in Portland with her wife and two dogs. Her passions include building vibrant communities, making unexpected connections, mindfulness and yoga, art, outdoor adventures and swimming and travel.