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  • James Townsend


PORTLAND, MI, (May 30, 2018) MiPortland Downtown (DDA/Main Street) has received an AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteers In Service To America) Grant to enhance programming in Portland. MiPortland Downtown is currently recruiting for a full-time VISTA member, a unique opportunity in the Portland area. The position is scheduled to begin this summer. AmeriCorps VISTA positions provide a living allowance, skills-building, comprehensive training and support including an education award. VISTA members pledge to ‘get things done’ for America.

Today’s announcement builds on MiPortland Downtowns commitment to increase access to small business education and engage the next generation of area entrepreneurs. From preparing home based and startup businesses for successful transition to brick & mortar entities, to creating collaborative spaces for businesses to share, the aim is to facilitate avenues for growth in all aspects of small business.

A second program focus will be on affordable housing. The VISTA member will explore the feasibility of rehabilitating space into apartments, connect and build relationships with property owners, and research programs that facilitate development of properties for housing use.

“I am sure we will address both business and housing needs better, faster, and more efficiently because of the MiPortland Downtown partnership with AmeriCorps VISTA,” stated Tina ConnerWellman, Executive Director for MiPortland Downtown. She continued, “By serving as a VISTA to MiPortland you can make a tangible difference. And you’ll find the fulfillment that comes from using your knowledge and skills to help those in disadvantaged circumstances turn their dreams into reality.”

Annually, more than 8,000 AmeriCorps VISTA members show their passion and commitment to bring individuals and communities out of poverty. Members make year-long, full-time commitment to serve on specific projects at nonprofit organizations. They focus their efforts to build the organizational, administrative, and financial capacity of organizations that foster economic development and otherwise assist low-income individuals and families.

In the communities surrounding Portland, including Ionia, Lyons, Muir, Pewamo, Westphalia, Eagle, Grand Ledge, Sunfield & Lake Odessa the combined population below the poverty level is 5,077 averaging 17.6% with Michigan average of 15%. These communities are all connected within twenty minutes of travel.

Portland Mayor, James Barnes stated, “Having a VISTA member work in Downtown Portland is an exciting opportunity, and such a great example of a “Win-Win-Win.” We will have a person who is interested in serving their country by working to create a better business environment in Portland’s downtown; while promoting affordable housing for members of our low-income community. The volunteer wins, the community wins, and those who will have better housing win. We are grateful to CEDAM Community Economic Development Association of Michigan as well as Michigan’s Main Street Center, for the opportunity to participate in this program and facilitate more successful partnerships between Portland’s public and private stakeholders.”

Portland boasts a rich history, filled with work ethic and community pride. MiPortland Downtown is a nonprofit, community, and volunteer based program for improving Portland’s downtown between-the rivers district, creating a viable place to operate a business, and a rewarding place to live and raise a family. It’s not easy to describe this community’s sense of pride and unity. It is demonstrated in the way residents value service, reach out to help neighbors, and donate time in many selfless acts that seem almost automatic and instinctive.

For more information and details on the MiPortland VISTA Program Coordinator position visit

Applicants are requested to submit resume & cover letter via email to: Deadline is 3pm June 18, 2018

Vista Member service date begins August 20, 2018.

Back Row: Dr. Jason Williamson – Organization & Marketing Team, Ethan Getchel – Organization & Marketing Team

Front: Amanda Johnston – City Council, Tina ConnerWellman – Exec. Director MiPortland Downtown, James Barnes – Portland City Mayor

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