Downtown and Neighborhood Revitalization Consulting


Craig's Story

Craig Scharton is an experienced entrepreneur and community builder with a passion for revitalizing downtowns and neighborhoods, and helping locally-owned businesses. He accomplishes his goals by connecting and networking people, businesses, organizations, and resources.

He has over 36 years of experience as a business consultant, trainer, policy maker, nonprofit executive, landmark property owner, restaurateur, professor, municipal department director.

Craig has also been involved in a wide range of initiatives aimed at driving economic growth and improving quality of life in the communities where he has worked.

Training and Educating

Business Development

Better than any visual

Craig has worked with hundreds of retailers/restaurants through his revitalization work, he has worked with hundreds of manufacturers through his work with California’s Manufacturing Extension Partnership, and hundreds of start-up businesses through the two business incubators that he opened and operated.

Craig’s History of Accomplishments

Past Projects

Fulton Mall Renovation

The Fulton Mall Renovation project, which involved an investment of $22 million, has had a remarkable impact on the economic activity in the area. The substantial funding allocated to the project has resulted in a staggering 15-fold increase in economic activity.

Fresno Food Expo

Craig Scharton, an esteemed figure in the culinary and business world, played a pivotal role in the management of the Fresno Food Expo, recognized as the largest regional food show in the United States. With his extensive experience and expertise, Scharton led this remarkable event to unprecedented success and prominence.

1st Wednesday Street Party

This recurring monthly event showcases downtown businesses in Pleasanton, CA that focused on bringing locals into their downtown. As a direct result, downtown businesses received an overall monthly boost in revenue.

Thursday Night Market Place

Downtown Hanford, CA needed additional nighttime businesses. How do you attract these businesses when downtown is empty after 5PM? Craig and Main Street hanford created an event that brought people downtown by the thousands. Every Thursday night existing businesses saw a huge boost in revenue and new businesses started opening. The event is now in its 22nd year.

Water & Energy Technology Incubator

Craig and his team opened the Water and Energy Technology Incubator. In its first year, the facility was visited by delegations from 22 countries. The WET incubator was also featured in Europe’s largest convention for green and sustainable businesses.

Central Valley Stock Exchange

Fundraiser featuring startup companies/investorsThis CVSE was a fundraising event that also fulfilled the mission of the business incubator. Patrons received play money. Startup businesses tried to get investments from the attendees. Startups received valuable prizes for garnering the most “investment.” Community leaders learned about exciting startups.

Downtown/Neighborhood land use planning

Craig has had the opportunity to work on a variety of development plans, form-based codes, land use plans, neighborhood conservation plans and redevelopment plans. He also had the opportunity to work alongside leading planning teams like The Ratkovich Company; Wallace, Roberts and Todd (WRT); Ehrenkrantz and Eckstut; and Moule & Polyzoides.

Underserved Neighborhoods

Craig and his Neighborhood Revitalization Division Manager, Elaine Robles McGraw, worked in the neighborhoods of concentrated poverty in Fresno, CA. This work coordinated form based codes, code enforcement, community meetings, multiple city departments, and other community organizations. The “Lowell Model of Neighborhood Revitalization” was highlighted by H.U.D. as a best practice.


Taking cities to new heights

Craig was the executive director of three cities that became certified Main Street communities, and has worked with a variety of downtown and neighborhood revitalization efforts. His leadership and expertise were instrumental in overseeing the renovation of Fresno’s Fulton Mall, a $22 million project that transformed a struggling retail area into a pedestrian-friendly destination, resulting in 15x growth in sales.

Making visionary ideas exciting and engaging

Craig is a sought-after speaker with national experience. He has been a professional blogger and podcaster, and has presented on a variety of topics related to entrepreneurship, community development, and economic revitalization. Through his work, he is committed to making a positive impact in every community he touches.

Whether he’s collaborating with fellow entrepreneurs, mentoring young leaders, or advocating for policy changes, he is always striving to create a more vibrant, equitable, and resilient future.

Craig is a proud father to his son Cole Scharton and daughter-in-law Amanda, and a grandfather to his three grandchildren Clark, Emmett, and Violet. He enjoys spending time with his family and is an active grandpa. Craig was born and raised in Fresno, CA. Craig and his son’s family moved to Greenville, SC in June 2022. As a lifelong student of cities and is enjoying exploring his new home in Upstate SC.


Current Affiliations

Rize Prevention

Board Chair

Rotary Club of Greenville City Center


GBN of Greenville Networking Success

Incoming Membership Chairman

Trusted By

These organizations across the United States.

Past Affiliations

President, California Main Street • Affordable Housing Chairman, Union Bank (California, Oregon, Washington) • Board Chair, Fresno Housing Authority • Board Member, Fresno Audubon Society • Historic Warnors Theater, Executive Board • Board Member, Jane Addams Community Development Corporation • Adjunct Professor, CSU, Fresno, Urban Entrepreneurship • Created/Led, Fresno Downtown Academy (Received the International Downtown Association Award, 2016) • Board Member/Chair, Fresno City Housing Authority • Board Member, Central Valley Chapter, California Restaurant Association • Board Member, Fresno Community Development Financial Institution • Coleman Foundation Fellow • Mayor’s Creative Economy Council • Federal Grant Reviewer-Health and Human Services • Past President Fresno Downtown Association, 1995/1996

Change starts with a vision.

Craig has worked with more than 40 downtowns and neighborhood commercial districts in a variety of capacities: California’s Main Street President, Executive Director, and as a consultant.


Craig Scharton’s personal experience of witnessing the decline of his grandparents’ once-thriving neighborhoods and the collapse of downtown Fresno led him to research the root causes of urban decline and successful revitalization efforts. He found that successful revitalization requires a combination of community engagement, updated planning, infrastructure improvements, business and property owner support, historic, cultural and artistic investment, and identifying and reflecting the authentic character of each place.

As the executive director for three California cities that became certified Main Street Communities, Craig embraced the National Main Street Program’s methods and framework for revitalization. He also consulted with cities around the country and has worked alongside respected leaders in the revitalization movement.

Craig’s experience has taught him that cities without a healthy downtown have a people problem, not a resource problem. American cities are not under-resourced but rather have poorly managed and coordinated resources, and an exciting asset-based approach will draw in people and resources. A simple plan incorporating achievable and tangible results cvan put any downtown or neighborhood on the track to better health.

Craig's approach emphasizes that people are the real solution to the revitalization process. Infrastructure, housing, transportation, and plans are all important, but without the active engagement and participation of the people who live and work in the community, these efforts are unlikely to succeed.

Infrastructure, housing, transportation, and plans are all important, but without the active engagement and participation of the people who live and work in the community, these efforts are unlikely to succeed.

Revitalization efforts require collaboration and partnership among a variety of stakeholders, including residents, business owners, community organizations, and government officials.

Successful revitalization requires active participation from residents, who can provide valuable insights into the needs and priorities of the community. Community engagement is critical, and it can take many forms, including town hall meetings, workshops, focus groups, and surveys. When people come together to work towards a common goal, they can achieve amazing things, and the condition of a community’s downtown always reflects the community’s ability to focus and work together.

Overall, the success of revitalization efforts depends on the active engagement and participation of a wide range of stakeholders, including residents, property owners, the media, educational institutions, and financial institutions. When these groups work together, they can create a strong and vibrant community that is a great place to live, work, and visit.

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