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Learn about the Main Street Renaissance in Greater Minnesota at MinnPost Festival

After years of decline, Main Streets and downtowns across Greater Minnesota are experiencing a rebirth.

On Sept. 22-23, MinnPost Festival will bring can’t-miss conversations with national and local guests exploring a range of issues surrounding civic life in this moment.

Today, we’re spotlighting one of our featured sessions, Main Street Renaissance in Greater Minnesota. After years of decline, Main Streets and downtowns across Greater Minnesota are experiencing a rebirth. We talk to the people who are part of this movement and what it means for economic growth in rural areas.

This panel will feature Charles Marohn, Mayor Ben Schierer and Sarina Otaibi and will be moderated by MinnPost editor Elizabeth Dunbar.

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Charles Marohn is the founder and president of Strong Towns. He is a civil engineer and a land use planner with decades of experience. Marohn is the author of two books, hosts the Strong Towns Podcast, and is a primary writer for Strong Towns’ web content. He has presented Strong Towns concepts in hundreds of cities and towns across North America. Planetizen named him one of the 10 Most Influential Urbanists of all time.

Chuck Marohn, Sarina Otaibi, and Ben Schierer
Chuck Marohn, Sarina Otaibi, Ben Schierer
Ben Schierer is the two-term and current mayor of Fergus Falls, MN. Alongside his wife, Tessa, he built and operated two successful restaurants in downtown Fergus Falls between 2015 and 2023. He was selected as a 2020 Bush Fellow, a 2021 NewDEAL Leader, and a 2023 Presidential Leadership Scholar.

Sarina Otaibi is an Arab American rural cultural worker shaped by her 15 years of experience working in rural entrepreneurship, community development, building activation, and local government. As the Activate Rural Program Director at Department of Public Transformation (DoPT), she works with artists and community leaders to cultivate creative physical places of connection.

This session is on Saturday, Sept. 23, at 10:50 a.m. and is a breakout session only open to VIPs, sponsors and paid passholders. All Saturday sessions will be held at The 1893 at the Historic Grain Belt Office.

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Festival Passes

To get into Main Street Renaissance in Greater Minnesota, purchase your All-Access Festival Pass now! All-Access Passes get you first-come, first-served access to all of our panels on Saturday, Sept. 23, AND the keynote session with Samantha Bee on Friday night. All-Access Festival Passes are $85, with discounts available for MinnPost members, educators, nonprofit & government professionals and students. (Thanks to Minneapolis Regional Chamber for sponsoring the student rate!) Free passes are also available, but only get you access to a few select panels, not including Main Street Renaissance in Greater Minnesota.

To be eligible for the MinnPost member discount, become a member today.

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No matter how you register, you’re supporting MinnPost’s nonprofit newsroom and keeping our in-depth local coverage freely available to our community — no paywall, no subscriptions.

In addition to Main Street Renaissance in Greater Minnesota, we’ll have the following sessions:

  • Keynote with Samantha Bee (Friday paid session)
  • A Conversation with Gov. Tim Walz (Saturday free session)
  • Third-Culture Cuisine in Minnesota (Saturday paid session)
  • Black Entrepreneurship in Minnesota, sponsored by Clockwork (Saturday free session)
  • AI in Minnesota (Saturday paid session)
  • The Minneapolis Sound, from Prince to Today (Saturday free session)
  • Black Maternal Health in Minnesota (Saturday paid session)

We hope you’ll join us for this year’s edition of MinnPost Festival. Be sure to watch for more additions to the lineup and check out all the details at



Thanks to our Festival Sponsors!

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