Niles not one of the chosen
By By BEN RAYMOND LODE / Niles Daily Star
NILES -- Niles was not chosen as one of the first four Michigan Economic Development Corp. (MEDC) Main Street communities.
The four chosen communities were announced by Governor Jennifer Granholm Thursday and are Boyne City, Calumet/Calumet Township, Marshall and Portland.
According to the MEDC, those communities will receive downtown makeovers through intensive, specialized downtown revitalization training designed to create new jobs and investments downtown.
The communities were selected by evaluating the capacity of the downtown business organization, the willingness of the community to actively participate, physical characteristics of the proposed Main Street area and economic conditions.
Selection was also based on $15,000 in matching funds from the communities.
But according to Lisa Croteau, Downtown Authority Development director, missing out in the first round doesn't mean Niles won't receive Main Street community status in the future.
She said MEDC will hold second round applications for their program this September.
Croteau said Niles has already been asked by the MEDC to re-apply, which she is sure they will.
However, according to Susan McCormick, a MEDC spokesperson, there's really no losers in the new program.
She said Niles not being among among the first four winners is not negative for the community.
But in order to win the coveted title as a Main Street Community, the city might have to present more than they did during the first round.
Croteau, however, said during the last two-and-a-half years, Niles has after all been very fortunate.
She said the city's affiliation with the Local Initiatives Support Corp. (LISC) has provided Niles the opportunity to receive much of the training that will be offered by the MEDC to the four chosen Main Street communities.
LISC is a network of technical and financial resources to help formulate and implement plans to redevelop downtowns, neighborhood and business corridors and provides valuable training opportunities to their designated sites.
The training includes assistance in hiring a program manager, an action planning seminar and design guidance from Michigan's Historical Preservation society.
In fact, Croteau and Juan Ganum, community development director will attend a LISC seminar in Lansing next week called "Arts and Culture in Revitalization Programs."
According to the MEDC, Michigan is now one of 39 states to administer a Main Street program.
Since the National Main Street Initiative began 25 years ago, downtowns across the country have realized an average of $39,96 of new private investment in Main Street communities for every $1 of Main Street money spent.
In that time, Main Street communities have created $16,1 billion in new physical improvements, 56,300 new small businesses, 88,700 rehabilitation and new construction projects and 226,900 new, private jobs.