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Michigan Main Street designation boosts Milan’s business prospects

Milan is selected as a participant in the Michigan Main Street program

Taking major strides to further develop the city of Milan’s cultural and business climate and economic potential, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation has selected the community of 5,800 residents in southeast Michigan as a participant in the Michigan Main Street program.

With the designation at the Selected Level, Milan receives five years of intensive technical assistance, with a focus on revitalization strategies designed to attract business investment, economic growth and job creation in the city’s central business districts.

“Developing downtowns is essential in building tax base, raising property values and creating jobs,” said Steve Arwood, CEO of Michigan Economic Development Corporation. “Programs like Michigan Main Street provide downtown communities with the tools needed to create jobs, provide desirable places to live and build a sense of place for Michigan residents.”

The Michigan Main Street aims to create communities distinguished by a “sense of place.” The rationale is based on a range of studies that show investing in creating a “sense of place” is an integral part of developing vibrant city centers and downtowns, and thereby making the state economically stronger and culturally diverse.

There are currently 44 communities participating in the Michigan Main Street program at associate, master and select levels. Each level provides services based on a community’s commitment, from one to five years in the program.

Milan joins 19 other communities at the 5-year commitment and beyond. Those communities include Boyne City, Grand Haven, Niles, Portland, Old Town (Lansing), Manistee, Howell, Hart, Blissfield, Wayland, Owosso, Saline, Downtown Lansing, Otsego, Three Rivers, Wayne, Grayling, Charlevoix and Port Huron.

Since its inception in 2003, Michigan Main Street program has been a catalyst for job growth, private investment and community engagement. From 2003 through last year, 1,638 jobs were created and 364 net new businesses (taking into consideration businesses closed, moved, expanded and contracted), and 57,655 volunteer hours recorded in the task of revitalizing downtowns across Michigan, or the equivalent of 1,440 weeks (based on a 40 hours/work week).

In addition, from 2003-2013, the Michigan Main Street program has spurred downtown development, including:

• $200 million investment in buildings, infrastructure and private improvements

• $67 of downtown private investment for every $1 public funds invested

• More than 250 buildings purchased

Milan was selected after the city participated in the Associate Level of Main Street and a competitive application process that considered broad based community support and historic preservation ethic. The city, which is about 15 minutes south of Ann Arbor, boasts tree-lined streets, 200 acres of beautiful parks, affordable housing and a range of shops, restaurants and services.

The Main Street program includes the four-point assistance:

• Design: enuancing physical environment and assets, including historic buildings

• Economic restructuring: assisting existing businesses expand and attract new businesses

• Promotion: positive attraction strategy to showcase assets, create special events and campaigns to encourage commercial activity

• Organization: engaging volunteers and create positive, productive communications among stakeholders

Milan’s Main Street effort will be led by the city’s Downtown Development Authority. The underlying premise of Main Street is a comprehensive approach that encourages community participation in economic development and historic preservation.

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