ADRIAN – A lot of relevant data on Adrian’s makeup, its market trends, and the general sentiment of Downtown Adrian as expressed by community members, youth, and business leaders has been reviewed during a recent visit to Adrian by representatives from Michigan Main Street.
The April 28 public meeting encouraged participation from business owners, residents and those who use downtown Adrian’s services. It was one of the first steps in integrating the city into the Main Street America organization.
On October 28, Governor Gretchen Whitmer and the Michigan Economic Development Corp. announced that Adrian had been chosen to attend Michigan Main Street’s Select Level program. Under the Select level, these communities will receive five years of MEDC technical assistance with a focus on revitalization strategies designed to attract new residents, business investment, economic growth, and job creation to their communities. central business districts.
Adrian and 26 other communities participate in the Main Street program. In Lenawee County, Blissfield has participated in the Main Street program since 2010. Blissfield is at the Masters level, which is the step after Select.
Much of the April meeting showed data from the Adrian Downtown Development Authority/Main Street Board of Directors which relates to how Adrian can either adapt, modify or rethink some of his business approaches to attract more customers. and commercial investments and how to make the downtown district a gathering place for the community.
The meeting was considered a “transformation strategy identification” meeting, according to Norma Ramirez de Miess, vice president of Main Street America revitalization services, who led the meeting alongside representatives from Michigan Main Street, Leigh Young, Senior Main Street Specialist, and Josh Prusik, Economics. vitality expert. Young has previously worked with Adrian’s DDA/Main Street consultancy to increase the reach of small businesses.
Ramirez de Miess said the first part of the transformation strategy meeting is often “overwhelming” for communities because of the amount of data presented. The idea of looking at the data, she said, is to dissect it and focus on certain areas that will have the greatest impact three to five years from now.
“What we often say is that Main Street is a nationally recognized program, but ultimately the power is within each of the program’s communities,” she said.
Michigan Main Street, she said, will act as the city’s guiding partner in revitalizing the central business district. Main Street will make suggestions, and it’s up to the city, she said, to consider or implement those suggestions for growth.
The first part of making decisions about downtowns and central business districts, she said, is to involve the community. The revitalization framework and journey begins with the community vision.
“When you go downtown and you have that sense of place, it’s something that showcases who you are as a community,” she said. “When your community realizes it, the community will support it.”
Main Street America, Ramirez de Miess said, has a four-point parallel he uses when working with communities. These four points are: economic vitality, design, organization and promotion. The goal of this four-point approach, she said, is to ensure that downtown spaces are used in the best possible way and that downtown locations are marketed strategically.
When she first came to Adrian, Ramirez de Miess, who has 15 to 20 years of experience in community revitalization work, said upon arrival that she knew she had arrived “somewhere from special”.
“Adrian has character,” she said. “…Downtowns can be positioned as a community gathering place and a hub for arts and culture. Downtowns should be a balanced mix of foods, businesses, products, goods and services for all ages. We believe you have a solid foundation for your downtown. We are here to be your partners.
A survey the city released in the winter of 2021 regarding Adrian’s business district and downtown garnered 1,017 responses, Ramirez de Miess said: 511 were community responses, 493 were community responses. youth and 13 leaders responses. The survey asked residents and visitors to Downtown Adrian a number of different questions, including: “When you think of Downtown Adrian, what comes to mind ?” and “What addition would make downtown Adrian better?”
All data from these surveys will be considered by Adrian’s DDA/Main Street consultancy, as he works alongside Michigan Main Street and MEDC.
Dusty Steele, chairman of Adrian’s Downtown Development Authority board, said the partnership with Michigan Main Street provides the city with an opportunity to “make Adrian more Adrian.”
“Opportunities abound as we begin to look at major downtown projects and the help we will need from MEDC and state agencies,” he said. “(The projects) show favor with the Main Street program because we know it works and we know that if we embrace it and do it the right way, we can be effective and the dollars won’t be wasted.”