From the Main Street Director’s Desk
Renewed energy on Main Street was contagious
by Rae Gosling | Grayling Main Street Executive Director
In the spring of 2015 Grayling Main Street (GMSt) was at its first major turning point since becoming a Select Level Main Street Community in the spring of 2014. The search for its second director had begun and there were new faces and assignments on the board.
The second director for GMSt was Mrs. Danielle Stein-Seabolt. Her experience in the political field offered Grayling a great opportunity to smooth over some of the ripples that had been left by recent disagreements. Her diplomatic personality and eagerness to build the program was the perfect combination for GMSt to grow.
Throughout 2015 the GMSt Board evaluated the by-laws, financial best practices of the organization, and started to develop policies for the long-term success of the program.
The Main Street model pushes communities to achieve growth in a ladder fashion, making each step more easily attained and encouraging success at the next stage of development. They must first build volunteers and financial support, organize the volunteers and formalize the budget, followed by the execution of events, projects, and fundraising for ongoing funding of the program.
Grayling Main Street was ready to execute events, but it was not ready for fundraising; this led GMSt to focus on events and general economic development strategizing in 2015. The retailers, services businesses, and restaurants in downtown needed some financial stimulus. GMSt dedicated much of its time to drawing more residents and new shoppers to the businesses by growing retail events. There was also a focus on community collaboration for economic development strategies and encouraging businesses to improve the appearance of their buildings.
The growth of two Girls Night Out retail events as well as a sidewalk sale helped to draw more patrons to the downtown area for shopping. Ongoing support and attention to the long-running events like Harvest Festival and Christmas Walk kept the spirit of Downtown Grayling alive. By incorporating new elements as well as maintaining tried and true retail methods, Grayling saw a boost in business downtown. The increased traffic could also be attributed to new businesses opening downtown. The additional businesses brought renewed life to Main Street.
The renewed energy on Main Street was contagious and sparked a heavy usage in one of the services from Michigan Main Street Center, Design Services. The director coordinated with the Design Committee to assist downtown merchants and property owners in completing applications for Design Services. These services offer scaled renderings of facade improvements from a certified architect at no cost to the recipient. These services aid in preparing businesses to apply for grants from Michigan Economic Development Corporation, a public-private collaboration to service communities in Michigan to develop economically.
Because 2015 was the first full year of reporting by the GMSt Director, we are able to see some hard numbers from that year. Here is a brief by-the-numbers review of 2015: $934,000 in public investment, just shy of $1.3 million in private investment, more than 2,000 volunteer hours at events and meeting, and 127 committee meetings coordinating events, projects, and economic development tactics.
Want to know more about how Grayling Main Street transitioned into 2016 and ended up with a third director? Check back in future editions of the Avalanche for more From the Main Street Director’s Desk. You can also check out our website, www.DowntownGrayling.com, find us on Facebook, or email your questions to DowntownGrayling@gmail.com.
Rae Gosling is the Grayling Main Street Executive Director. She has been with the program since April 2016. She is a Grayling resident, wife, mother, local shopper, avid supporter of all things Grayling, and keeps everyone on their toes wondering what color her eye shadow and hair will be next.