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
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
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.
These organizations across the United States.
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.
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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