A new podcast, Main Street Business Insights, spotlights small business owners from around the country, highlighting their personal journeys, the innovative ways they have overcome adversity, and the advice they have for others on how to keep their businesses on track.
The podcast is powered by Main Street America (MSA), a national organization that works with downtowns and neighborhood commercial districts across the U.S. and a subsidiary of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Over the course of the last several years, a major focus of Main Street America has been building the network’s position in economic development, with an emphasis on supporting downtown and neighborhood businesses.
“There are more than 33 million small businesses, of which 90 percent have less than 20 employees. These businesses serve as the key drivers of our nations’ economy. Main Street Business Insights gives those businesses a voice, which far too often go unheard or unnoticed.”Matt Wagner, Chief Program Officer at Main Street America and host of the podcast.
In the first season, Wagner sits down with 10 small business owners across the country representing a variety of sectors – from small town retailers to bricks-and-clicks merchandisers to community organizers and beyond. Each of them offers their own perspectives on building and scaling a successful small business, how they navigate economic challenges, and lessons learned along the way.
“In my field work over the recent years, I’ve learned that there is an astounding level of innovation occurring among small business owners, even in the face of economic, social, and environmental turbulence,” said Wagner. “Main Street Business Insights will tap into what is driving that innovation straight from the source.”
The first episode featured the co-founder and CEO of Maine Grains, Amber Lambke. Located in the rural community of Skowhegan, Maine, Maine Grains is a grist mill that processes locally grown and organic heritage grains for bakers, brewers, and chefs throughout the Northeast. Maine Grains has created a thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem around it that creates jobs, improves land use, and provides healthy food all while serving as a successful model for thriving local economies. Her story highlights the importance of how combining a business with a higher purpose, along with a successful formula for growing and scaling, can build community and spur economic growth.
Subsequent guests include Martha Moore and Ashley Owens, co-founders and owners of Martha & Ash, a custom drapery business headquartered in the small town of Camden, S.C. Through a bricks-and-clicks strategy, the mother-daughter team has successfully scaled their business from an in-home workroom serving mostly local customers to a downtown shop with a large digital presence, now serving thousands of clients nation-wide.
Another recent episode featured Harvey Williams, co-founder and CEO of the Delta Dirt Distillery in downtown Helena, Arkansas. Delta Dirt Distillery is the only black-owned farm to distillery business in the United States. The family’s ingenuity led to leveraging their farm and production of sweet potatoes into international-award winning vodka. They have also invested in their community by opening a tasting room that serves as an anchor in their downtown, and the family serves on a developing Main Street program in Helena.
“Over the last year, I’ve met with entrepreneurs like Amber, Martha, Ashley, Harvey, and many others, across America’s Main Streets,” said Wagner. “In all my conversations, I’ve found continued proof of what I have long believed, that small businesses and the people behind them are the engines that drive our communities forward. My hope is that these conversations will inspire entrepreneurs with innovative ways to grow and offer lessons to Main Street leaders to creatively engage with and support their local businesses.”
Learn more and listen to Main Street Business Insights here. Available wherever you get your podcasts.
Matthew Wagner, Ph.D. serves as Chief Program Officer at Main Street America. In this role, he is responsible for driving the organization’s field service initiatives including the development and delivery of technical services for Main Street America and Urban Main programs, directing the Center’s research agenda, as well as the recently launched New Business Development work to focus on national partnerships, brand leveraging and new business growth areas.
The Daily Yonder is the only national newsroom dedicated to rural reporting and storytelling. If you’re interested in supporting our mission and reaching an informed, engaged audience of rural stakeholders, we offer select sponsorship packages.