Niles featured in Vibrant Small Cities honor

Published 4:59 am Tuesday, October 2, 2007

By Staff
LANSING – Governor Jennifer M. Granholm, today announced that The Michigan Vibrant Small Cities Initiative administered through the Michigan State Housing Development Authority has been awarded the Sterling Achievement Award for Community Development Programs by the Council of State Community Development Agencies.
The Award nomination featured the initiatives undertaken by MSHDA's Community Assistance Team and Michigan State Housing Development Authority's Office of Community Development in the communities of Niles and Newaygo.
The Council of State Community Development Agencies is the premier national association advocating and enhancing the leadership role of states in community development through innovative policy development and implementation, customer-driven technical assistance, education and collaborative efforts. This is the first time ever the award was given for this type of initiative.
The Award was presented at Council of State Community Development Agencies's annual meeting at the Washington Athletic Club in Seattle, Sept. 17. Michigan State Housing Development Authority's Director of Community Development, Rick Ballard, accepted the award for the State of Michigan. Vibrant Small Cities Initiatives is a part of Governor Granholm's efforts to create vibrant communities, large and small, across our great state. These efforts are based on numerous recent studies demonstrating that investing in our downtowns creates vibrant centers that people want to live, work and invest in, making our state economically stronger.
"Creating vibrant communities attractive to businesses, residents and visitors is an essential part of our plan to transform Michigan's economy," Gov. Granholm said. "This initiative is making downtowns in our smaller communities great places for individuals and families to live, earn and learn."
The communities of Niles and Newaygo used the downtown facade improvement initiative. This program is designed to assist a community in making physical improvements to an entire traditional downtown area, block, or portion of a block that contains buildings, properties and businesses in need of facade improvements resulting in downtown revitalization and rental rehabs. These successful projects resulted in Michigan State Housing Development Authority committing $6 million in Community Development funds.
"We all remember the rich histories of the downtowns where we spent our early years, and the good memories that go along with those recollections," said Michigan State Housing Development Authority Executive Director Michael R. DeVos. "This initiative will help preserve and rejuvenate those cities, bringing them back to the illustrious vibrancy of former times while drawing more residents and tourists to our state."
Michigan State Housing Development Authority is a quasi-state agency that provides financial and technical assistance through public and private partnerships to create and preserve safe and decent affordable housing, engage in community economic development activities, and address homeless issues. Michigan State Housing Development Authority's loans and operating expenses are financed through the sale of tax-exempt and taxable bonds and notes to private investors, not from state tax revenues.