Buchanan joins Niles as Main Street communityPublished 9:18am Tuesday, October 6, 2009
By JESSICA SIEFF
Niles Daily Star
Michigan is getting a new Main Street.
Recently, the city of Buchanan applied to the Michigan Main Street Program to become an associate community and was accepted.
Now, a Michigan Main Street Program, Basic Training Program will be held in Niles on Thursday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Wonderland Theater which will address certain areas of focus for those communities who are looking to not only revitalize but capitalize on their Main Street charm.
“It has been successful all across the country,” said Debra Patzer, director of Buchanan’s Downtown Development Authority. She added the program consists of “a proven approach to downtown revitalization.”
The community, Patzer said, will see the program open the door to the opportunity for “a lot of training,” and she said that those participating in the program would being talking about what types of changes could be made to help suit the city in the future.
“There’s so much potential here in Buchanan,” she said.
The program is offered through a partnership between the Michigan Historic Preservation Office and the Michigan State Housing Development Authority.
The program “utilizes the National Trust’s Four Point Approach of Main Street: organization, promotion, design and economic revitalization to develop key partnerships, provide technical assistance, and networking opportunities for each of the Michigan Main Street communities.”
Niles is one of 15 current Main Street communities.
The program has allowed the city to open its doors to new ideas and to developing those ideas into practices that will bring more residents and visitors to Main Street.
Buchanan will now see those same opportunities, having been accepted into the program.
To expand on those four points of the program, they are described as:
-Design: enhancing the downtown’s physical environment by capitalizing on its best assets
-Economic Restructuring: strengthening a community’s existing economic base while expanding and diversifying it.
-Promotion: marketing the downtown’s unique characteristics to residents, visitors, investors and business owners.
-Organization: involving all the downtown’s stakeholders and getting everyone working towards a common goal.
Other Main Street communities include Grand Haven, Calumet, Muskegon and Old Town Lansing.
The program’s web site also describes benefits for its included communities as:
-Protecting and strengthening the existing tax base
-Creating a positive community image
-Creating visually appealing and economically viable downtown buildings
-Attracting new businesses
-Creating new jobs
-Bringing new residents downtown
-Increasing investment downtown
-Preserving historic architectural resources
-Services tailored to specific community needs
Those benefits and points of focus, Patzer said, “would really help us start to turn the town around.
“It’s going to require a commitment from the community itself,” she added.
Buchanan is starting the program at the “ground floor” Patzer explained, joining as an associate community. This would give the city and the community a year, she said, to go through the training and follow the program to see if “the Michigan Main Street program is a good thing for Buchanan.”
Patzer said that though the meeting is Thursday, if anyone is serious about participating, they can contact her at 695-3844 or Dpatzer@cityofbuchanan.com. For more information on the program, visit www.michiganmainstreetcenter.com