City Takes First Steps In The Michigan Main Street Program Designed To Help Revitalize Downtown District
Douglas City Council Monday night, via a resolution, took the first step toward the city’s participation in the Michigan Main Street Program, advancing the city’s ongoing efforts to revitalize the downtown district.
“It’s a community-wide effort to bring revitalization downtown. It is focused on economic stability and making downtown an inviting atmosphere, a lot of things that make downtown destinations (a great place) to live and work in,” said Douglas Zoning Administrator and Community Development Director Lisa Imus.
The state program provides technical assistance, training and other services to protect and strengthen a city’s existing tax base, enhance economically viable buildings (including the preservation and economic revitalization of historical structures), support business recruitment and retention and other revitalization-related efforts.
Two weeks ago on October 19, the Douglas’ Downtown Development Authority (DDA) voted to apply for the program’s first level, or the “associate level,” by which participants - development authorities, community leaders and volunteers - educate themselves about the program for a year or more to see if the program is a fit for the community.
The city council resolution Monday supported an application for the associate level and gave the green light for city cooperation in the Main Street effort.
“It’s highly volunteer-driven,” said Imus, adding that volunteers from the DDA, the Saugatuck and Douglas Convention and Visitors Bureau, and community members at large would be sought out and welcomed to join the endeavor.
Much to the delight of the council members, Imus responded in the affirmative to their inquiries about whether she deemed the program’s possible benefits to go beyond the downtown district, such as the rest of Center Street and the Blue Star Highway Corridor.
“It seems to be targeting ways to bring business here, which is what we are trying to work on,” said Douglas City Council Member Greg Harvath.
Training and technical assistance will not cost the city anything, but travel expenses are not covered under the program, said Imus.
Should the city continue in this effort, the second level makes the city a “selected” member, and that would offer the city the opportunity for the programs’ full range of services.
The “selected” level is highly competitive, requires a paid staff, and entails a more rigorous application process.
Grand Haven, Marshall and Otsego participate at this level, Main Street reports.