Jeanne Conger of Positive Results Downtown Saginaw
As executive director of Positive Results Downtown Saginaw, Jeanne Conger oversees efforts to support the local community and bring positive attention to Saginaw’s downtown.
Jeanne Conger has a lot of pride in the Saginaw community. Born in the area, Saginaw is a piece of Jeanne’s past, present and future, from growing up in Bridgeport and raising a family to serving as executive director of Positive Results Downtown Saginaw – formerly known as PRIDE in Saginaw – for the last three decades.
The goals of Positive Results Downtown Saginaw are to attract new business to the downtown area, encourage and support the existing business and professional community and to improve and beautify the downtown environment.
With Jeanne at the helm, downtown Saginaw’s growth and engagement are proof positive that people are the key ingredient of resilient, vibrant communities across the state.
“I was born in Saginaw and grew up in Bridgeport where I graduated from Bridgeport High School. I have a Liberal Arts Degree from Madonna University in Livonia with a French Language Major and Social Science Minor. During college, I was able to incorporate a semester in Paris, France through Alma College.
After college, I came back to Saginaw and worked as a sales representative for Holiday Inn. I met my husband, got married and had three children. During the children’s early years, I was a stay-at-home mom. When it was time to go back into the workforce, I worked in the hospitality field again with the Four Pointes by Sheraton. It was then that my mom’s best friend said that the PRIDE Board of Directors was looking for someone to manage the non-profit. I applied, was hired and have continued to work in this capacity for 28 years as the Executive Director.
PRIDE (Positive Results In a Downtown Environment) in Saginaw, Inc. is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit corporation. It was organized in 1975 by a group of business leaders in the community with goals to stop the deterioration of the urban area, encourage and support the existing professional community, create events for the community that enhance arts and culture, and to improve and beautify the downtown environment. Its goals are to create a positive, constructive image of our area; unify, coordinate and support common efforts of various organizations and individuals: promote and stimulate ongoing activities attractive to people and business; combat deterioration; and improve the appearance of our business districts.
When I began working for PRIDE, Downtown Saginaw was devastated. A once-booming retail hub during my youth had become vacant as the stores all moved out to the new and popular malls in 1970s. This left many downtown and inner cities abandoned.
PRIDE is well-known for providing events such as Holidays in the Heart of the City including the Annual Christmas Parade, Friday Night Live Free Entertainment Series, The Memorial Day Parade in cooperation with Saginaw County Veterans Memorial Plaza, Harvest Days at the Downtown Saginaw Farmers’ Market, The Ice Blast in cooperation with Saginaw Spirit, Banners and Holiday Decorations and the development of the Downtown Saginaw Farmers’ Market, Bringing Back the Ice in cooperation with Friends of Hoyt Park and the new event, The Outhouse Races at Hoyt Park. All these activities contribute to improving the quality of life for our citizens.
Over the years, I have seen many positive changes taking place in Saginaw. I’ve seen the entertainment offerings grow with the Dow Event Center, the Jolt Credit Union Outdoor Park and the refurbished historic Temple Theatre. Saginaw is fortunate to boast the Great Lakes Bay Symphony, the Saginaw Choral Society and Pit & Balcony Theatre.
Saginaw also is home to the Mid-Michigan Children’s Museum, the Saginaw Art Museum, the Saginaw Children’s Zoo and the Andersen Enrichment Center. All these entities have either been built or grown in expansion. In the government sector, we have a new Social Security building next to the State of Michigan building and the new development of the Michigan Works building.
The Historic Hoyt Library has been renovated and the Castle Museum has been improved with the acquisition of the annex and climate control which has expanded the opportunity for high quality traveling exhibits. The great incubator for small business, the SVRC Marketplace now occupies the renovated historic Saginaw News Building. The successful Downtown Saginaw Farmers’ Market is now housed there with new outdoor pavilions.
I’ve seen the expansion of two major hospital and health care systems, Ascension/St. Mary’s and Covenant. The Michigan Cardiovascular Institute was built and serves people from all over the state. Central Michigan University built a health care teaching facility and the hospitals keep expanding and growing making Saginaw a comprehensive medical center for the state.
In our education field, both Saginaw Valley State University and Delta College have built satellite campuses in our Downtown. We are in the process of building a new high school, Saginaw United, which is combining the two previous high schools into one on the riverfront.
Many improvements have been made in housing with the renovation of the historic Bancroft Hotel and the Eddy Building into luxury apartments and the townhouses built along the river near Old Town. Adding to our already beautiful parks and recreation is the addition of Saginaw River Headwaters Rec Area in the Saginaw Malleable Iron property. The Andersen Water Park, Outdoor Fitness Court and Splash Park and the renovation of the Saginaw River Walk Iron Belle Trail, which is statewide. Wickes Park has had a $900,000 trail project. Riverfront Saginaw has a new marketing program to join the East and the West sides of the river under the new name of Riverfront Saginaw.
Saginaw has been selected to host Canada’s Memorial Cup next year, and we are looking forward to many projects, some of which are underway now. There will be $8,000,000 in upgrades at the Dow Event Center and $2,000,000 in Hoyt Park, which had previously updated and refurbished the warming building. The Commerce Tower is making improvements. The Cement Sky Project is a clean-up and enhancement effort of the riverfront district under I-675 at Washington, an entrance to downtown.
Saginaw is unique because it has a diverse population and many amenities that enhance the quality of life. This is home to the Great Lakes Bay Symphony Orchestra, Saginaw Choral Society, Dow Event Center, Saginaw Eddy Band, Saginaw Concert Band and Pit & Balcony Theatre. We have extensive parks and recreation areas including Price Nature Center, Shiawassee National Refuge and Haithco Park. The library system hosts three branches throughout the city.
I’m proud to live in this beautiful state surrounded by the Great Lakes. We are full of recreational, sporting and hunting opportunities. We can find places outdoors with awesome views of nature from waterfalls to wildlife, flowers and the Mackinac Bridge.
Having been born and raised in the Saginaw area, I am happy to be here with my family and friends. The kindness and generosity of the people in the Saginaw area is hard to find. My roots are here where I have worked in the community for 28 years and have raised my family.
Positive Results Downtown Saginaw/PRIDE in Saginaw, Inc. has been successful in our goals and will continue to go forward in the future. We will celebrate our 50th year in 2025. We have seen many improvements and renovations that have taken place in Saginaw and many more on the list for the future. We have helped by bringing people back downtown and showing them it is a great place to live, work and invest. We have contributed to the bonding of our community.”