Five communities receive a total of $100,000 in grants for downtown improvement

Communities receiving grants are Lansing, Owosso, Grayling, along with Blissfield and Three Rivers.
Lansing and Owosso are two of five communities that have been awarded a total of $100,000 in...
Lansing and Owosso are two of five communities that have been awarded a total of $100,000 in grants to support downtown enhancement and improvement projects.(Downtown Lansing Facebook)
Updated: Jun. 4, 2021 at 12:19 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - Friday Gov. Gretchen Whitmer joined the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) to announce that five communities around the state have been awarded a total of $100,000 in grants to support downtown enhancement and improvement projects.

Communities receiving grants are Lansing, Owosso, Grayling, along with Blissfield and Three Rivers.

“Thriving, attractive downtowns are vital to creating unique places where people want to live, work, visit and play,” said Gov. Whitmer. “With today’s grants, these communities are taking important steps toward strengthening their core commercial districts and driving economic growth in the community. As we jumpstart our economy and begin a quintessential Michigan summer, I am excited for vibrant downtown areas to be full of life once again.”

The Main Street Vibrancy Grant Program is intended to provide grants of $20,000 to Select or Master level Michigan Main Street communities for projects that enhance the vibrancy and economic vitality of Michigan Main Street downtowns. Projects could include pop-up shop programs, implementation of a marketing or advertising campaign, physical improvements such as new seating, seasonal infrastructure, signage, or art, and other transformative projects that help create a sense of place and a more vibrant community.

2021 Main Street Vibrancy Grant winners

Owosso Downtown Development Authority
    • Streetscape - flower beds, benches, bike racks
    • $20,000

Downtown Lansing Inc.

    • Business incubator space
    • $20,000

Grayling Downtown Development Authority

    • Downtown clock, outdoor seating, sanitation stations, crosswalk art, wayfinding
    • $20,000

Blissfield Downtown Development Authority

    • Mini-park revitalization and gazebo for food truck park, art events, outdoor space activation
    • $20,000

Three Rivers Downtown Development Authority

    • Downtown in bloom - public art upgrades to murals and art inspired banners, lighting, bistro seating, outdoor games (chess and ping pong tables)
    • $20,000

“We are looking forward to working with the Michigan Main Street and MEDC team through the Vibrancy Grant program. Over this past year, Downtown Lansing Inc. has prioritized programming centered around providing small business support,” said Downtown Lansing Inc. Executive Director Cathleen Edgerly. “This grant and Downtown Lansing Incubator will allow us to cultivate small-scale development from the inside out, building a stronger sense of community as we empower and offer a soft launching point for start-ups with a centralized and hyper-focused support system for entrepreneurship in the downtown district.”

The funding is a bright sign, at a time where local communities bounce back from the pandemic.

“As our district evolves out of the pandemic, this MMS Vibrancy Grant is catalytic funding that will aid in the reactivation of our downtown streetscape,” said Owosso Main Street/DDA Executive Director Josh Adams. “We continue to appreciate our partnership with Michigan Main Street and their support of our community.”

The Michigan Main Street Center helps local communities across Michigan as they implement the Main Street Four-Point Approach, a community-driven, comprehensive strategy encouraging economic development through historic preservation in ways appropriate for the modern marketplace. The program aims to create communities distinguished by a “sense of place.” The reasoning is based on an array of studies that show investing in creating a sense of place is an essential part of developing vibrant city centers and downtowns, making the state economically stronger and culturally diverse.

“These communities have all worked diligently to enhance the sense of place and vibrancy in their downtowns, engage residents and businesses, and drive economic growth,” said Michelle Parkkonen, Director of Community Development Technical Assistance Programs at the MEDC. “Today’s Vibrancy grants will help further strengthen the downtowns and commercial districts in these communities, helping their businesses grow while also building unique places that are attractive to residents and visitors.”

As part of the Select Level of Michigan Main Street, communities receive five years of intensive technical assistance from MEDC with a focus on revitalization strategies designed to attract new residents, business investments, economic growth, and job creation to their central business districts.

After communities have completed the Select Level of the program, they can participate in the Master Level, a two-year commitment that includes additional training and networking and mentoring opportunities.

The 24 communities currently participating in the Michigan Main Street at the select and master levels are:

  • Blissfield
  • Boyne City
  • Charlevoix
  • Charlotte
  • Cheboygan
  • Downtown Lansing
  • Eaton Rapids
  • Evart
  • Grand Haven
  • Grayling
  • Grosse Pointe
  • Howell
  • Lapeer
  • Mexicantown Hubbard Communities (Detroit)
  • Milan
  • Niles
  • Historic North End (Detroit)
  • Old Town (Lansing)
  • Otsego
  • Owosso
  • Saline
  • Sault Ste. Marie
  • Three Rivers
  • Wayland

Over the past year, Michigan Main Street communities generated more than $13 million in private investment, 87 new businesses, and 149 façade and building improvements. Since its inception in 2003, the Michigan Main Street has been a catalyst for job growth, private investment, and community engagement.

From 2003 through 2018, 1,495 new businesses have been launched, with a total public investment of over $115 million and total private investment of $319 million. Additionally, more than 773,507 volunteer hours have been recorded by Michigan Main Street communities in revitalizing downtowns across the state.

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation is the state’s marketing arm and lead advocate for business development, job awareness and community development with the focus on growing Michigan’s economy. For more information on the MEDC and our initiatives, visit . For Pure Michigan® tourism information, your trip begins at Join the conversation on: Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

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