International Downtown Association announces 2024 Emerging Leader Fellowship participants

May 14, 2024

Team member for the Main Street District is selected for prestigious leadership program

Heather Spires, VP of Development & Administration for the Main Street District (formerly called City Center Partnership), has been selected as one of 30 place management leaders across the US to participate in the International Downtown Association’s (IDA) Emerging Leader Fellowship program.

“The Emerging Leader Fellowship is a week-long experiential program bringing together a cohort of IDA professionals from within the urban district management industry,” states the official IDA press release announcing this year’s fellowship class. “The fellows learn essential leadership and place management skills and gain practical tools in the areas of place-based economic development, the live-work-play experience, and public-private partnerships.”

Heather Spires rejoined the Main Street District in 2022 as the VP of Development & Administration, having served as the VP of Retail Recruitment from 2011 to 2015. In these roles, she has worked closely with property owners, municipal leaders, and entrepreneurs to build a vibrant entertainment and retail corridor in the heart of the capital city.

“The leading organization for place management and downtown development is IDA, of which we have been a member for 20+ years,” says Matt Kennell, President & CEO for the Main Street District. “Our team is thrilled to have Columbia, SC represented through Heather’s involvement in this prestigious program, and we look forward to having her bring back some of the latest trends in the industry to the heart of the capital city.”

For more information about this year’s cohort, visit IDA’s website.


About the International Downtown Association 

The International Downtown Association is the premier organization for urban place professionals who are shaping and activating dynamic city center districts. Our members are downtown champions who bring urban centers to life, bridging the gap between the public and private sectors. We represent an industry of more than 2,500 place management organizations, employing 100,000 people throughout North America and growing rapidly around the world. Founded in 1954, IDA is a resource center for ideas and innovative best practices in urban place management. For more information and a list of other upcoming IDA events, visit

About the Main Street District

The Main Street District encompasses the 36-block area bounded by Gervais, Elmwood, Assembly, and Marion streets in Columbia, SC. The organization provides public space management, economic development, place management, marketing services, and public advocacy for the Main Street District. The Board of Directors oversees the organization’s mission — to focus on filling vacancies in commercial properties, retaining existing downtown businesses and recruiting new ones, expanding the downtown residential base, and creating a safe, clean, and friendly downtown environment.