Thursday, June 17, 2004
Clare, Muskegon and Niles to Receive Downtown Revitalization Training
Governor Jennifer M. Granholm today announced the three communities chosen by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) to take part in the coveted Michigan Main Street program. This year's designees, Clare, Muskegon and Niles, will receive intensive, year-round training through the MEDC, with a focus on revitalization strategies designed to attract new business investment and job creation to their central business districts.
"Michigan's downtowns are the hidden historical and economic gems of the state," Granholm said. "This program gives these communities a valuable tool for redeveloping their downtowns into catalysts for commerce while preserving the unique character of their main streets for future generations to enjoy."
This is the second year that the MEDC has administered the intensive training program, which follows the four-step approach developed by the Main Street National Trust for Historic Preservation in Washington D.C.
The Main Street approach encompasses promoting long-term design concepts, marketing, community cooperation and organization, and encouraging economic restructuring to strengthen and expand the existing economic base to meet new business opportunities.
The competitive application process began in February 2004 with seven communities submitting letters of intent. These were narrowed down to the three finalists, who were then invited to present formal applications to a team of officials from 12 state and local development organizations. All three finalist communities were judged to have highly meritorious proposals and were designated as this year's Main Street communities.
The communities were selected based on the following factors:
the physical characteristics of the proposed Main Street area;
the capacity of the downtown business organization;
local economic factors; and
the willingness of the community to actively participate, including a $20,000 minimum commitment to partially cover program costs.
Michigan is now one of 39 states to administer a Main Street program. On a national level, the program has demonstrated impressive results. Since the national Main Street Center began its work in 1980, participating downtowns across the country have gained an average of $40.35 in new private investment for every $1 used to operate the local program. In that time, Main Street communities have created more than $17 billion in public and private investments in physical improvements, 57,470 new businesses, and more than 231,000 new jobs.
"The economic vitality of our communities is the cornerstone of the continued economic success of the entire state," said MEDC President and CEO Don Jakeway. "The Main Street designation offers these three communities the opportunity to learn how to grow into the future while maintaining the historic identity of their traditional business district."
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.