Tuesday, March 02, 2004
Seven Communities in Preliminary Running for Coveted Designation
"This is a great opportunity for communities to gain access to expert knowledge on successful downtown revitalization efforts," said MEDC President and CEO Don Jakeway. "The continued economic vitality of Michigan's community cores is central to maintaining the state's overall economic strength."
Baldwin, Clare, Kalkaska, Lapeer, Linden, Monroe and Muskegon are vying for up to four Main Street designations that will be granted this year. Full applications are expected to be received from the seven communities in April. Qualified applications must include a detailed, three-year budget outlining the private and public sector funding sources for the program and a commitment to hire a full-time Main Street manager. The community must also be able to demonstrate the need to restructure its downtown business district.
Applications judged to have the highest merit will be invited to give a formal presentation to the Main Street Advisory Committee in May. The committee's final decision is expected in June.
In October of 2002, the MEDC announced a contract with the National Main Street Center in Washington, D.C. to offer select Michigan communities the opportunity to receive a Main Street "makeover." Michigan is now one of 39 states to operate a Main Street program. All Michigan communities are eligible to apply. Communities selected to participate in the program will be educated in the four-step Main Street revitalization approach:
Design: Enhance the physical appearance of the commercial district by rehabilitating historic buildings, encouraging supportive new construction, developing intensive design management systems and long-term planning.
Organization: Build consensus and cooperation among the many groups and individuals who have a role in the revitalization process.
Promotion: Market the traditional commercial district's assets to customers, potential investors, new businesses, local citizens and visitors.
Economic Restructuring: Strengthen the district's existing economic base to meet new opportunities and challenges from outlying development.
Last year, Boyne City, Calumet/Calumet Township, Marshall and Portland won Main Street designations. Since 1980, the National Main Street Center has worked with communities across the country 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.
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.