Each year we are invited to speak at national conferences, local and regional workshops, and in other venues. Topics have included economic development, downtown revitalization, tactical urbanism, placemaking, and historic preservation. Isaac Kremer has developed a reputation as a dynamic and engaging speaker. If you have a topic that you want covered, please let us know.

“Benefits of Main Street,” New Jersey Department of Community Affairs, January 25-26, 2021

Provided an overview of the results in downtown Metuchen over the past 5 years. Focused on the process used starting with a strategic plan to gather community input and market analysis, development of a strategic plan, then the work of teams around two “transformation strategies.” This work resulted in $109,186,668 of public and private investment, 120 business starts, and the creation of 541 FTE jobs.

“Placemaking for the Win,” New Jersey Downtown Conference (January 21, 2021)

Thriving downtowns capitalize on their community assets to create intentional spaces that encourage visitors to not only shop and dine, but immerse themselves in the downtown experience. This creates a sense of place that attracts visitors, builds pride, and nurtures loyalty. Placemaking does not just happen, it is achieved through a multi-pronged approach to the planning, design and management of public spaces that is supported by substantial community collaboration. This panel brings together professionals actively engaged in placemaking who will share real life implementation strategies to take your downtown from ho-hum to wow. 

“Winning Winter” webinar, Downtown New Jersey (October 2, 2020)

With colder temperatures quickly approaching, downtowns should be preparing now to help their small businesses weather the Fall and Winter seasons. Accommodating, and even encouraging, outdoor consumer activities is not anything new – especially to those in colder climes. Your downtown may have even embraced the chill in years past by hosting a Winter Market or Winter Festival. During this forum, we discussed best practices in placemaking to make your downtown inviting and comfortable during cold weather. The discussion was led by Metuchen Downtown Alliance Executive Director, Isaac Kremer, and Storefront Mastery‘s, Jaime Izurieta. After the webinar participants were challenged to implement an innovative placemaking approach in their own downtown.

“The Power of Partnerships: Advancing Age-Friendly Communities in New Jersey,” Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest, Whippany, New Jersey (September 20, 2020)

“Age-Friendly Communities,” New Jersey Future Redevelopment Forum, New Brunswick, New Jersey (March 6, 2020, 11am)

New Jersey’s population is aging, and development patterns in NJ aren’t keeping up with the needs of its growing population of older residents. Highlighting examples of redevelopment projects and aging-friendly planning projects, this session will explore what towns can do to create communities that are better not just for older people, but for everyone. Learn how designing communities for all ages isn’t only possible, it’s achievable.

“Everybody Innovates Here,” International Downtown Association Annual Conference, Baltimore, Maryland (October 30, 2019)

This session will show how to develop a higher-impact, sustainable, inclusive and more effective way to accelerate innovation and entrepreneurship downtown through programs, places, nerve centers, districts and ecosystems. Two case studies will illustrate these concepts: a downtown district in Metuchen, NJ with over $100 million of investment since 2016, and Makerhoods, innovative live-work space, also in New Jersey. These examples will show how innovation is achievable by everyone.

“Surviving the Retail Apocalypse: Designing Storefronts that Sell,” International Downtown Association Annual Conference, Baltimore, Maryland (October 30, 2019)

This panel will highlight innovative approaches to storefront design including activation of vacant storefronts and the public realm around them, and creative approaches to funding projects.

“The Future of Historic Preservation,” Albion Public Library, Albion, Michigan (August 28, 2019)

This talk placed Albion, Michigan, within the context of the American experience with historic preservation over the past 50+ years. A portion of the talk highlighted Isaac’s development of the Interactive Downtown Albion website, Albion Interactive History website, and other projects tied to Albion over the past 20 years. The talk concluded with some challenges facing the field of historic preservation today while also highlighting specific opportunities for Albion in the years ahead.

“Lean Livability,” Age Friendly Communities Initiative, Garfield, New Jersey (April 23, 2019)

Lean Livability consists of low-cost actions undertaken by citizens that strengthen their connection to the public realm and their relationships with one another. These include actions like Free Library, Urban Agriculture, Street Seating, Stencils, and Bike share.

“How to Help Your Businesses Win at Marketing,” Main Street Now Conference, Seattle, Washington (March 25-27, 2019)

Do businesses in your downtown need help with marketing? We’ll give the ideas, tools, and inspiration you need to assist your businesses. The Metuchen Downtown Alliance partnered with SCORE and Metuchen High School students on a Win at Marketing workshop over a 6-week period. Following the workshop we gave out “Innovation Grants” to encourage businesses to take action. Hear from the people who planned and presented. Then during the session we’ll guide you on developing your own “Win at Marketing” workshop. Led By: Isaac Kremer, Executive Director of the Metuchen Downtown Alliance.

“Lean Livability,” Stern Lecture, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey (March 13, 2019)

Lean Livability consists of low-cost actions undertaken by citizens that strengthen their connection to the public realm and their relationships with one another. These include actions like Free Library, Urban Agriculture, Street Seating, Stencils, and Bike share. This was our second time presenting this talk following the AARP Livability Communities conference a few months prior.

“Catalyst Projects Yield Extraordinary Results for Downtowns,” Main Street Now Conference, Seattle, Washington (March 25-27, 2019)

Downtown organizations with a strategic plan, market data, and transformation strategies in place can confidently tackle even the most intractable downtown problems. In this session, you’ll hear from three Pennsylvania and New Jersey Main Street organizations that are confronting seemingly impossible downtown projects they could never have contemplated even three years ago without all of this compelling data. The panel members will highlight three recently completed transformational projects, including an $850,000 pocket park initiative, five new or expanded food-based businesses, and a series of retail promotions that generated more than $500,000 in new sales at local stores in the last year.

Lean Livability: Making Lovable Places for $500 or Less,” 6th Annual AARP Livable Communities National Conference, Charlotte, North Carolina (November, 12-14, 2018)

Making big changes does not always require millions of dollars and take years of time. We’ll demonstrate over 50 ways, all under $500, how communities can make themselves more livable and lovable. We’ll explore how at the district and neighborhood level, we can connect people with their places in more experiential, memorable ways, minimize pain points, and inject a “Little Bit of Happy” LBOH. Our goal is to make places that foster greater relationships between people and strengthen attachment with their communities. After becoming familiar with this Lean Livability approach, participants will be given an opportunity to explore these concepts in a workshop setting where they will design interventions for a place firsthand as a knowledge building exercise. For those who would like to apply the concepts outside of the conference center walls, they can participate in a rapid activation project near the conference hotel in downtown Charlotte. At the end of the workshop a Call to Action will be made to continue this work at home. Led By: Isaac Kremer, Executive Director of the Metuchen Downtown Alliance; Christine Newman, Manager of Outreach and Volunteer Engagement AARP New Jersey; Scott Curry, Active Transportation Coordinator for the City of Charlotte; Seanette Corkill, Principal, Frontdoor Back.

Livable Communities 101 Breakout Session,” AARP College 2018, Somerset, New Jersey (April 21, 2018)

What does it mean to make a community more livable for people of all ages? Join us to learn real world examples of how towns across the state are working to do just that, how AARP is helping support this work, and simple projects you and other community members can engage in to make your town a great place to live at any age. Session participants will engage in a hands on livable communities project demonstration as part of the course. Led By: Isaac Kremer, Executive Director of the Metuchen Downtown Alliance; and Christine Newman, Manager of Outreach and Volunteer Engagement AARP New Jersey

Placemaking: Building It Lighter, Quicker, and Cheaper & Managing It Well,” Governor’s Conference on Housing and Economic Development, Harrah’s Waterfront Conference Center, Atlantic City, New Jersey (October 5-6, 2017)

Placemaking focuses on creating and enhancing public spaces. Learn how to turn underused spaces into vibrant community gathering places and destinations without a big municipal investment of either time or money. This session will examine how public spaces have been transformed, provide instruction on how to best manage, market, and maintain what’s built, and will share information on available funding sources.

Mastering the Art of Bringing Low-Cost Rapid Change Downtown,” International Downtown Association, Winnipeg, Canada (September 13, 2017)

There is an international trend of low-cost interventions being used to test out ideas before making large capital improvements. Pop-up parks, guerrilla way-finding, and mobile vendors are just a few innovations. During this session you will learn about projects from successful communities internationally. During this workshop you will carry out several interventions and participants will get hands-on experience. Through this workshop you’ll gain the know-how and skills needed to bring about low-cost rapid change in your downtown.

Case Studies on Economic Resiliency in Rural Communities,” at Balancing Nature and Commerce in Gateway Communities, The Conservation Fund, Shepherdstown, West Virginia (January 2017)

This session provided real world examples of thriving rural communities and the tools and techniques they use; highlighted the keys to success of working with diverse public, private, and nonprofit partners; defined and explored new models for economic development in terms of supporting the development of entrepreneurs and job sectors that

are creative and/or location neutral; presented real-world examples of creating an entrepreneur-focused community economic development and workforce development strategy especially related to rural and recreational economies, value-added products, and partnerships; and presented examples of small-scale manufacturing that provide connections to the unique sense of place and contribute to a thriving rural community. Presenters: Isaac Kremer with Abbi Peters, PA Wilds Center and Zach Drennen, Coalfield Development Corp.

Creative Placemaking Bootcamp,” Main Street Now Conference, Milwaukee, Wisconsin (May 2016)

Join us as we take it to the streets. We’re going to leave the conference room behind and get down and dirty in Milwaukee. We’ll build pallet furniture, decorate the streets and sidewalks, and install guerrilla way-finding. The National Endowment for the Arts in their “Beyond the Building” convening in 2014 identified national conferences for their potential to make creative placemaking contributions to host communities. During the National Main Streets Conference we’ll turn their call to action in to a reality by working with local venues and creative placemakers in Milwaukee. We’ll partner with NEWaukee, a placemaking organization with a venue blocks away from the conference hall (newaukee.com), and the Greater Milwaukee Association of REALTORS®, who is helping to fund the project. This hands-on workshop will give you first-hand experience, tactics, and tools that you can use in your own community, while leaving behind a special gift to our host city of Milwaukee. Presenters: Isaac Kremer with Holly Moskerintz, National Association of Realtors; Jeremy Fojut, NEWaukee.

Balancing Nature and Commerce in Gateway Communities,” The Conservation Fund, Sheperdstown, West Virginia (March 2016)

This session provided real world examples of thriving rural communities and the tools and techniques they use; highlighted the keys to success of working with diverse public, private, and nonprofit partners; and provided an opportunity for participants to discuss lessons learned and tips for success with peers. Learning objectives: After this session, participants were able to: List elements of successful rural community enhancement efforts; Explain different approaches used for stimulating stronger rural communities and landscapes. Presenters: Isaac Kremer with Abbi Peters, PA Wilds Center.

Tactical Urbanism,” National Brownfields Conference, Chicago, Illinois (September 2015)

Tactical urbanism, economic gardening, creative placemaking, no matter what you call it, these low cost high impact approaches are being used in neighborhoods and communities around the United States. Participate in this roundtable with leading experts on creative placemaking and share your ideas for activating vacant buildings, lots and parks with pop-up shops and cafes, pallet chairs, and other low cost interventions. Presenters: Isaac Kremer with Della Rucker, Wise Economy Workshop; Sharon Yazowski, Levitt Foundation.

Tactical Urbanism Workshop,” National Main Streets Conference, Atlanta, Georgia (March 2015)

Have no money and want to fix your downtown? No problem. We’ll show you ten ways you get started restoring your downtown for $500 or less. Tactical urbanism and temporary interventions will be explored in depth. Participants will be given hands-on opportunities to build a pallet chair, create a pop-up shop, and make a parklet. After the workshop results will be put on display in a pop-up park at the conference venue that participants help to create. By taking these practical ideas and translating them in to a physical reality, this will show Main Street programs everywhere how they can build a #BetterMainStreet. Presenters: Isaac Kremer, with Ryan Gravel, Pekins and Will; Kateryna Goncharova, Ukranian State Institute for Preservation of Historic and Architectural Sites

New Landscapes: Youth and Communities,” Appalachian Regional Commission Fall Conference, Florence, Alabama (September 2014)

Case studies were provided of successful community development efforts in Middlesboro, Kentucky, and Decatur, Alabama. Presenters: Isaac Kremer with Crystal Brown, Director of Business Development, Decatur-Morgan County Chamber of Commerce, Decatur, Alabama.

Using Tactical Urbanism to Preserve Downtowns,” National Main Streets Conference, Detroit, Michigan (May 2014)

“Tactical urbanism” is a hot, new, revolutionary movement that is transforming how people revitalize places. One example of tactical urbanism, the Better Block movement, creates short-term “interventions” in a 48-hour period for $1,000 or less, planting the seeds for long-term change. Learn how Main Street communities can benefit from tactical urbanism and the Better Block initiative. Researchers and on-the-ground tactical urbanists will share their examples and experiences and provide practical, “real world” applications that communities can implement. Presenters: Isaac Kremer with Mike Lydon, Street Plans Collaborative and Caitlyn Horose, Orton Family Foundation.

“Economic Development Panel,” Citizen’s Institute on Rural Design, Somerset, Kentucky (October 2013)

Panelists from the Department for Local Government, Pulaski County Government, and Discover Downtown Middlesboro will discuss how art projects have provided economic development in Kentucky downtowns. Presenters: Isaac Kremer with Harry Carver, Special Programs Coordinator, Department for Local Government; Tiffany Bourne, Community Development Director Pulaski County Government; Mary Beth Touchstone, Executive Director, Community Arts Center

“Give your District New Life in Two Days for Less than $2,000,” National Main Streets Conference, Baltimore, Maryland (April 2012)

Big changes do not always require millions of dollars and years of time. During a 48-hour planning event, volunteers in Oyster Bay, New York, realized they had the power to turn their downtown around through visioning and temporary installations – pop-up stores in vacant buildings, pop-up streetscape improvements, and pop-up playgrounds. Learn how to organize a similar event by using an easy-to-use work plan and see how temporary changes can turn into lasting improvements in your own community. Presenters: Mike Lydon, Street Plans Collaborative; Aurash Khawarzad, Project for Public Spaces.

“Historic Communities and America’s Great Outdoors,” National Trust for Historic Preservation Annual Conference, Buffalo, New York (October 2011)