A community effort to revitalize downtown Saline has reached another important mile marker.
Gov. Rick Snyder announced today that Saline was selected by the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA) to take part in the Michigan Main Street program.
Saline was an associate-level member in the organization, which uses an approach to encourage community and economic development through organization, promotion, design and economic restructuring. There is no cost to joining Main Street, but employing a full-time Michigan Main Street manager is a condition of membership.
As a full-fledged Michigan Main Street community, Saline will receive five years of intensive technical assistance, through the Michigan Main Street program, with a focus on revitalization strategies designed to attract new residents, business investment, economic growth and job creation to their central business district.
"The Michigan Main Street program will help Saline create opportunities for redevelopment, placemaking and economic growth just as it has in downtowns throughout Michigan," Gov. Snyder said. "Vibrant communities and downtowns are critical as we look to help local businesses grow, attract new investment and retain and attract the talent that is needed to reinvent Michigan."
A group of government, business and community volunteers have worked to attain select-level membership in the organization for more than a year. The campaign hit a fever pitch in the fall. Mayor Gretchen Driskell has been a proponent of the program.
“We are thrilled to be receiving the Select status in the Michigan Main Street program. I think you have already observed the energy and focus that our community volunteers have put into the application, imagine this multiplying across the community,” Driskell said. “I am so excited that the (Saline Historic Downtown Alliance) board and our community will be implementing this program in Saline. It is 'the icing on the cake.”
The Main Street initiative came out of the city’s Business Development Association. Cindy Czubko is chairperson of the BDA, president of the SHDA
Cindy Czubko, president of the SHDA board, and leader of the Main Street effort.
“This is great news for our community and we are honored to be part of such an incredible program,” Czubko said. “We are looking forward to the training, tools, information, and networking the Michigan Main Street Center will provide to help us be successful in our downtown revitalization efforts.”
Czubko said it was rewarding to see victory for the team effort, and that that this would be the first of many victories. She credited Downtown Development Director Art Trapp, the Saline Downtown Merchants Association, the city’s Economic Development Corporation, the BDA and Saline Area Chamber of Commerce for working together to lay the groundwork that will help the transition to the program and thanked the volunteers who donated time, talent, support and resources to the effort.
Some Main Street programs are public efforts. Many communities have downtown development authorities that double as a Main Street board. Saline’s Main Street program is a private operation. There is no cost to joining Main Street, but employing a full-time Michigan Main Street manager is a condition of membership.
The SHDA organization has worked to raise funds privately in support of Main Street. Czubko said fundraising efforts will intensify in the coming months. The city’s Economic Development Corporation has pledged $200,000 to the Main Street program over the next five years.
The focus now turns to training, fundraising and finding a Main Street Manager. It is expected a manager will be in place by May 31.
The Michigan Main Street program is part of Governor Snyder's placemaking efforts to create vibrant communities across Michigan. These efforts are based on numerous studies showing that investing in placemaking creates vibrant city centers and downtowns, making the state economically stronger. There are currently 38 participating Michigan Main Street communities at all levels, including 16 at the Select and Master levels, according to MSHDA.
The underlying premise of the Main Street approach is to encourage community economic development through:
Organization: getting everyone working toward the same goal and assembling the appropriate human and financial resources to implement a Main Street revitalization program.
Promotion: selling a positive image of the commercial district and encouraging consumers and investors to live, work, shop, play and invest in the Main Street district.
Design: getting the downtown into top physical shape. Capitalizing on its best assets, such as historic buildings and pedestrian-oriented streets, is just part of the story.
Economic Restructuring: strengthening a community's existing economic assets while expanding and diversifying its economic base.