Webinar – Filling the Gaps

What to Do About Empty Lots & Roofless Buildings

This webinar is now over. Check out our next webinar here.

Filling the Gaps webinar

What will this webinar cover? 

You want to fill up those empty lots, and you’re tired of looking at those buildings that burned out years ago. You want to fill those gaps with life and activity. We want to help. Join us for this webinar, and you’ll hear a dozen ideas to inspire action.

How do you start? And how do you get reluctant lot owners to work with you? You’ll get real-world examples of how small communities that have turned gaps into attractions. We’ll talk about getting lots of people involved in loving those vacant spaces back to life, and we’ll share special strategies for getting past the automatic “no” from those property owners.

Tiny business villages, beer gardens, beaches, art, farmers markets…. are you feeling creative? Join us to get going.


You can bring friends:

Once you’re registered, you can schedule more than one viewing during the two week window so you reach as many people as possible.

We allow you to watch the live event, and also to invite friends, and to hold replays in your town, as long as you’re personally present each time. You have two weeks to make the most of your replay.

Who should you invite?

  • Downtown associations, Main Streets, Chambers
  • Economic development folks
  • Elected officials, cities, towns, municipalities
  • The boys at the coffee shops
  • Those who want to revitalize their downtowns
  • People who own vacant lots or roofless buildings
  • Visionaries like yourself

What are your webinars like? Will there be slides? How long is it? Can we ask questions?  

Our webinars are streaming video recorded live. You see our faces. We connect with you personally. We give you a downloadable handout instead of boring slides, and we focus on real-world examples, not statistics. Your downloadable handout will have photos, more info and links for all the examples.

We wrap up the presentation within one hour, then we stay late to answer your questions. And we take questions by email after the live event during the two weeks the replay is available.

What people who’ve been to Becky and Deb’s previous webinars have to say:

“Lots of great ideas for small rural towns and small business owners who just want to try something out or expand their businesses. It’s so much about building a community and telling the stories about what works. Great presenters as well, who are obviously passionate and genuine about what they do, and embody economic development in their everyday work.”

Kathleen Code, British Columbia, Canada

“Your webinars are just so precious. Increase them. Do them repetitively. I wish I could fill an auditorium with our local chamber of commerce leaders and boards to hear you both.”

Jim Blankenship, Tennessee

“This webinar stimulated lots of note-taking and conversation between the business owners gathered at my house. Deb and Becky gave us some new ideas and several excellent examples of known models. I think some of us are thinking of pivoting our summer’s plans after participating in Wednesday’s event. Thanks for a well-thought out presentation!”

Jonya, Oronoco, Minnesota, RochesterFiber.com

“I watched the webinar video last night. It was great. I think you and Deb make good team. Nice banter, good pacing, and lots of useful information. Excellent!”

Cindy Kelly, Kansas

Earn Credit for Attending: 

Oklahoma Main Street

Oklahoma Main Street Communities can earn Quality Assurance Points by participating.


Press Release

You’re free to edit, customize and reuse this in your local newspaper, your own newsletter or send it to local media to help spread the word about your watch party or replay gathering.  

A group of rural organizations are offering an interactive webinar “Filling the Downtown Gaps: What to Do with Roofless Buildings and Empty Lots” Tuesday, July 12 at 6 p.m. CDT.

Featured speakers Becky McCray and Deb Brown are both small town people. McCray is a small town business owner from Oklahoma. She and her husband Joe own a retail store and a cattle ranch. She shares insights from this real-world experience at her highly-ranked website, Small Biz Survival, and in her award-winning book, Small Town Rules. Her practical perspective is often featured in a wide range of media, from The New York Times to The High Plains Journal. She makes her home base in Hopeton, Oklahoma, a community of 30 people.

McCray speaks to national and international groups in Canada, the US, the UK and Australia. She has spoken at the National Summit on Rural Entrepreneurship, the International Economic Development Council (IEDC) Annual Conference, South by Southwest Interactive (SXSW) and over 150 other events and conferences.

Deb Brown shares stories and advice on the subjects of social media, working and living in a small town and creating the kind of community you want to live in. She is the Executive Director for the Webster City Area Chamber of Commerce in Iowa, a town of 8,000. She is recognized internationally for her online presence as @debworks and publisher of Building Possibility. She shares real world examples of how people are changing their small town into the kind of place the community wants to live, work and play.

Brown has been the keynote speaker at the Michigan Rural Economic Development Conference, Central Iowa Tourism Conference, and the Milbank, South Dakota Chamber of Commerce, as well as presenting at TEDx Brookings and many other events.

“This interactive webinar will help participants learn a dozen ways small towns are turning empty lots into lively downtown attractions,” Dean Ihla, North Dakota Tourism said. “Rural people are using these ideas to bring more life and activity to formerly vacant spaces and shell buildings.”

The cost to participate in the webinar is $20, and advanced registration is required. To register or learn more about the webinar, go to http://saveyour.town/webinar

Oklahoma Main Street Communities can earn Quality Assurance Points by participating. The sponsoring organizations are Michigan Rural Council; Tourism Currents; Dakota Resources; Iowa Small Business Development Centers; North Dakota Department of Commerce, Tourism Division; Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service; and North Dakota State University Center for Community Vitality.