By: Deborah Johnson Wood
The City of Zeeland is one of 17 Michigan cities selected by MSHDA to participate in the Michigan Main Street (MMS) Associate Level program, a two-year opportunity meant to return economic vitality to the state’s downtowns by providing civic leaders with training in organization, promotion, economic restructuring and design.
“We’re thrilled,” says Abigail deRoo, Zeeland’s city marketing director. ‘I see this as providing an outlet for training for city staff that works with our downtown, and training for our downtown board members and our volunteers.”
Before deRoo joined Zeeland’s city staff last year she was Main Street Manager for the City of Clare. After moving to Zeeland, deRoo established four municipal committees based on the four components of Main Street training (organization, promotion, economic restructuring and design), and immediately applied for Main Street status.
“The program provides a strong network of Michigan downtown leaders,” deRoo says. “It gives cities the opportunities to use templates other communities have used successfully to drive their economies and urban designs, so we won’t be reinventing the wheel. And we’ll be able to use the program’s listserv to communicate and find out what other cities have done [to strengthen their downtowns].”
Each committee will train only in its specific area of expertise, attending free daylong classes in Lansing.
Three other West Michigan cities/business districts were also named to the MMS program: Grand Rapids “Uptown,” Belding and Plainwell.
Since its inception in 2003, MMS has spurred some $27 million in private investment and created an estimated 338 jobs in 13 cities.
“We’re just excited to be part of it,” deRoo says. “The state recognizes that Zeeland is committed to improving our downtown and we want to use any and every tool available to us.”
Source: Abigail deRoo, City of Zeeland
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Deborah Johnson Wood is the development news editor for Rapid Growth Media. She can be contacted at [email protected].