Town meeting decides future

Published 4:00 pm Monday, February 14, 2005

By By MARCIA STEFFENS / Niles Daily Star
NILES - A town meeting is only successful if there is participation.
Next Wednesday the community of Niles is invited to come and work together to plan the future of Niles.
The Main Street Economic Restructuring Committee is asking community residents and business owners to meet to discuss downtown business development and marketing initiatives.
The Town Meeting and Workshop Looking Ahead: Future of Downtown Niles will be held on Wednesday, Feb. 16 at the Bell Center, Third and Sycamore streets, from 6 to 8 p.m.
Everyone is invited and encouraged to attend, said Lisa Croteau, program manager of the Niles DDA-Main Street.
The town meeting and workshop is a community-wide forum planned to kick-off the Downtown Niles Market Study project.
Downtown Professionals Network (DPN), a consulting firm based in the Chicago area, was retained by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation to facilitate the study for Niles and to provide recommendations for downtown business development and marketing strategies.
During the firm's first site visit, scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday, the DPN consulting team will also perform a series of field exercises and conduct interviews with downtown business leaders.
Jay Schlinsog, DPN president, said the study will include an in-depth analysis of input collected from local business and consumer surveys scheduled for distribution in the near future.
The town meeting and workshop is being conducted as part of the project's initial "discovery" phase, which includes the collection and review of additional background information and an assessment of the downtown business climate, he added.
With the information from the study, the DDA-Main Street be able to recommend to a potential business owner whether the community could support the type of business.
The first phase of the DPN's visit is soliciting information from community members, she said. They also hope to get volunteers to help with futher phases.
Special components of the study, scheduled for completion this summer, include an assessment of opportunities for business expansion and recruitment in the downtown business district.
Schlinsog said workshop exercises at the town meeting will encourage participants to share thoughts and ideas that will set the tone to guide Niles downtown business development initiatives.