©2016 Michigan Economic Development Corporation

21 Communities Vie for a Downtown Makeover

Wednesday, February 26, 2003

Jennifer Owens
(517) 335-4590

Michigan Main Street Competition Heats Up

The competition to receive the coveted Michigan Main Street designation has heated up with 21 Michigan communities submitting letters of interest to the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) to apply for the designation.The designation will allow at least two Michigan communities to receive intensive, year-round training on Main Street’s effective downtown revitalization strategies, designed to create new jobs and investment in Michigan’s downtowns.

“The interest level has peaked and the competition for the Main Street makeover will be fierce,” said Sabrina Keeley, MEDC’s acting chief executive officer.“Downtown redevelopment is clearly a priority for many Michigan communities.The MEDC can serve as a valuable resource to assist in making those plans a reality.”

Submissions have been received from the following communities (alphabetical order): Boyne City, Calumet and Calumet Township (joint submission), Clare, Escanaba, Fremont, Grand Rapids*, Hudsonville, Howell, Ionia, Ishpeming, Jackson, Kalamazoo, Linden, Marshall, Mount Clemens, Muskegon, Niles, Portland, St. Johns and Wyandotte.

Designations are expected to be awarded by June 2003.In October 2002, the MEDC announced a contract with the National Main Street Center that will allow at least two Michigan communities to receive a Main Street makeover.

Michigan is now one of 39 states in the U.S. to operate a Main Street program.Communities selected to participate in the program will be educated in the four-step Main Street approach that includes:

  • Design: Enhancing the physical appearance of the commercial district by rehabilitating historic buildings, encouraging supportive new construction, developing sensitive design management systems, and long-term planning.
  • Organization:Building consensus and cooperation among the many groups and individuals who have a role in the revitalization process.
  • Promotion: Marketing the traditional commercial district's assets to customers, potential investors, new businesses, local citizens and visitors.
  • Economic Restructuring: Strengthening the district's existing economic base while finding ways to expand it to meet new opportunities and challenges from outlying development.

Since 1980, the National Main Street Center has been working with communities across the nation to revitalize their historic or traditional commercial areas.The Main Street approach was initially developed to save historic commercial architecture, but has become a powerful economic development tool as well.For more information on the program, visit www.mainstreet.org.

“The Michigan Main Street program is just one of the many economic development tools the MEDC has available to help communities with their downtown initiatives,” Keeley said.“Those other tools and the expertise of our Community Assistance Team will continue to be available to communities that do not receive the Main Street designation this year.”

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation, a partnership between the state and local communities, promotes smart economic growth by developing strategies and providing services to create and retain good jobs and a high quality of life.

*Two letters of interest were received from Grand Rapids specifically the City of Grand Rapids on behalf of Neighborhood Business Specialists Programs (NBSP) and Dwelling Place of Grand Rapids, Inc.