MiPortland Downtown (DDA/Main Street) gathered together as a community on July 19 at the Band Shell located in Two Rivers Park to celebrate their 15 years of partnership with the Michigan Main Street program under Michigan Economic Development Corporation.
Fifteen years ago the Michigan Main Street program was created, and Portland was in the first class of local communities to join. Today, there are 21 Main Street communities in Michigan that join 25 in Oakland County and over 2000 designated Main Street America neighborhoods and communities across the country. All are committed to creating high-quality places and to building stronger communities through preservation-based development.
Portland, along with their coordinating programs and volunteers have maintained interest in revitalizing and preserving traditional commercial districts. For Portland that focus lies on its ‘between the rivers’ business district of Kent and Maple Streets, with intersecting Grand River, and Bridge Streets.
“While I’m personally new to the Michigan Main Street program, I particularly appreciate the resources and best-practice networking they provide in the areas of property and business development, historic building preservation, community volunteerism, outreach and pride,” noted Tina ConnerWellman, Executive Director for MiPortland Downtown.
The Honorable James Barnes, Mayor of Portland opened the program by welcoming community guests and officials from national, state and local governments. He also noted people instrumental in the Portland Main Street program, including volunteers while remarking on past achievements and noted a bright future.
“As we look back with fondness at the successes of the past 15 years on this occasion of Portland’s 15th anniversary in the Michigan Main Street Program, we are also looking ahead to even greater success and revitalization that our continued participation will bring,” stated Mayor Barnes
Special recognition and comments were given by; Kali Fox on behalf of U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow, Peter Dickow on behalf of U.S. Senator Gary Peters, and Katharine Czarnecki, Senior Vice President, Community Development at MEDC.
“It takes a village for the Main Street Program to work, and I believe it brings citizens together in a community. I see these young children here tonight and I see the future, a growing generation of volunteers and of how this community will grow with them,” Katherine Czarnecki remarked.
Cory Grimminck, Board Chair for MiPortland Downtown stated, “As someone who didn't grow up in Portland, the Michigan Main Street Program was my entry point into the community. People were able to see that I was just as passionate about the future of the town as they are, and I got to work on rewarding projects.”
The program was closed by Tutt Gorman, Portland City Manager who stated that “our downtown, like all others, is the heart of the community. It is important that we continue to focus on revitalization and historic preservation. Downtown is the bridge to our past and our future.”
Notable and lasting achievements across the years have been the building of the boardwalk, the façade improvements along the boardwalk, and support of trail amenities that connect the downtown to the greater Portland area.
More recent accomplishments of note; Scout Park re-development with staging for future placemaking amenities; the lighting of the historic Veteran’s Memorial Bridge on Bridge Street, spanning the Grand River with a schedule of changing colors for traditional holidays; an enhanced communication network with more to follow; renewed engagement and outreach with local businesses, property owners, and organizations.
Participation in the Michigan Main Street program highlights several results to date including;
$3,641,999 in private investment, 57 new businesses assisted, 68 façade improvements, and 21,269 volunteer hours given to planning, coordinating and organizing.
Looking to the future, MiPortland Downtown board of directors and volunteers are working toward;
Increasing awareness and communications with property owners for Façade improvements while refining the program of matching funds,
Portland Prime – community ‘shop local’ gift certificate program
VISTA volunteer to begin August 20 increasing resources and focus on business start up, early stage business development, and business growth to fill vacancies - as well as informing and assisting property owners through the process of transforming underutilized space into housing.
Planning Sesquicentennial with other area organizations for 2019 with a culminating weekend long celebration event on September 20, 21, 22, 2019
Working with Parks & Rec and the City for a Splash Pad / Spray Park in next 12-22 months.
“We utilize the ‘Main Street Approach’, best practices from other Main Street communities, and join with our tremendous volunteers to highlight our unique assets. Our vision involves working together as a community to model a vibrant downtown, positioning Portland as Mid Michigan’s favorite small-town connection for families to grow, friends to celebrate and visitors to treasure”, stated ConnerWellman.
For more information, details and regular updates on MiPortland Downtown, visit miportland.org or our FaceBook page Mi Portland Downtown. Email us your requests at email@example.com and ask to receive our monthly ‘On The Street’ Newsletter via email.
PHOTO: Mayor James Barnes, Katherine Czarnecki MEDC, Tutt Gorman City Manager, Tina ConnerWellman Executive Director Portland Downtown