Niles one of three Main Street community finalists

Published 2:33 pm Tuesday, May 18, 2004

By By JAMES COLLINS / Niles Daily Star
NILES -- After losing out by one spot last year, the City of Niles will have another chance to be selected as a Michigan Main Street community this year.
City officials were recently notified that the city is one of three finalists for the 2004 Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) Michigan Main Street Program. The other two cities selected as finalists are Muskegon and Clare.
The three cities have been invited to Lansing on May 25 to give presentations on the progress being made in each city and its use of the four point approach of the Main Street Program: design, organization, promotion and economic restructuring.
MEDC will provide the chosen city with technical assistance, central training support and networking opportunities.
Lisa Croteau, director of the Niles Downtown Development Authority, was not sure if one or two of the finalists will be chosen as Main Street communities this year.
Last year, which was MEDC's first year of involvement with the National Main Street Program, Niles was one of 10 finalists invited to Lansing to make a presentation. Four cities were chosen as 2003 Michigan Main Street communities and Niles finished in fifth place.
Croteau said the main thing that hurt Niles last year was that the fundraising factor was not totally in place.
She said the fact that this one event brought in more than $11,000 (not including expenses) shows that the Niles Community does have the support system to make the Main Street program work.
Croteau said MEDC officials made a visit here in April to tour the city, talk to the community and witness the progress being made.
Niles has been following the approach of the Main Street program for three years now. By bringing in new businesses, holding community gathering events and implementing projects like the Big Brown Takedown and the streetscape project, Niles has been making many positive steps toward improving the city.
Croteau explained the Main Street approach as a "program of commercial revitalization for downtown and/or commercial districts that centers on reinvolving the community in the process."
She said by involving the stakeholders in the process, you will get a downtown that best fits the needs of that particular community.
There is currently a group of around 10 community members making the trip to Lansing for the presentation. They will be leaving Niles at about 11 a.m. and will return at about 6:30 p.m. Transportation is being provided by Dial-a-Ride.
Croteau welcomed others to attend if interested, saying the more community support that shows up, the better the chance that Niles will be chosen as a Main Street community. For more information, call (269)687-4332.