Main Spotlight: Celebrating 20 Years of Michigan Main Street

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20th Anniversary Celebration Volunteers

October 17, 2023 | Main Spotlight: Celebrating 20 Years of Michigan Main Street | Jill Tremonti, Promotions Specialist at Michigan Main Street | 

Founded in 2003 and currently housed within the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), Michigan Main Street (MMS) has provided technical assistance, training, and development to 41 communities in the state, realizing $445.6 million of total economic impact  and supporting over 4,000 jobs with a total cumulative state tax revenue of $8.8 million. 

Through training, technical assistance, and leadership, MMS works directly with local Main Streets to strategize for vibrant communities, deploy best practices and creative approaches for downtown enhancement, and celebrate the unique qualities and experiences of each community. 

As the program has grown and gained success, MMS has created new approaches for supporting our communities, including tracking and monitoring key performance metrics for program development, offering direct investment for downtown improvement—such as MEDC’s Match On Main, Main Street Vibrancy, and Optimize Main Street grant programs for business growth and retention—and amplifying the impact of MMS programs through storytelling. Launched in 2022, our Michigan Main Street Story Series showcases the transformative power of the Main Street network throughout the state and celebrates the unique stories of the people that are the heartbeat of Michigan’s downtowns and traditional commercial districts.   

20 Years of Community Impact

This year, Michigan Main Street worked closely with Jon Stover & Associates to produce an in-depth study on the impact of Main Street programming in Michigan over the last 20 years, assessing its value in three core areas: social, fiscal, and economic. 

This study found that Michigan Main Street has had a significant impact in the state, with 851,890 volunteer hours served in Michigan communities since 2003 at a value of $25.7 million. The study also found that MMS has demonstrated national leadership in placemaking, entrepreneurial ecosystem building, preservation, and investment, and that it’s economic development work has completely transformed communities across the state, including generating 2,150 new jobs and $239.6 million in direct economic impact for small businesses. The full report can be read here.

“Having great partners out there willing to be innovative, creative, and lead the field is really important to our movement,” said Matt Wagner, Ph.D., Chief Program Officer at Main Street America. “Michigan Main Street has always been right by our side and able to do that–to pilot things within the community and think ahead about what’s coming next.”  

Honoring Boyne City

This year is also an important anniversary for Boyne City, one of the four original Main Street communities in Michigan. The town received national recognition when it was awarded the prestigious Great American Main Street Award in 2020, after being named as a semifinalist in 2011 and 2019. 

Last month, Boyne City’s community members—joined by Norma Ramirez de Miess, Vice President of Field Services, Downtowns at Main Street America and staff from Michigan Main Street—gathered to celebrate the organization’s 20-year tenure in leading downtown revitalization efforts.

Since its inception, Boyne City Main Street has achieved extraordinary milestones, including the establishment of 113 new businesses and the enhancement of 71 building facades, contributing to over $29 million in private investments. Remarkably, the Boyne City Main Street program has been powered by an astounding 61,533 hours of volunteer support over the past two decades, a testament to the dedication and passion of its community members.

Storytelling for the Future

To celebrate our 20-year anniversary, Michigan Main Street created a video series looking at the impact and legacy of the program. The videos dive into “Why Michigan Main Street Matters,” exploring the importance of downtown revitalization, the strength of the Main Street Approach, and the ways that this work has transformed communities.