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Howell wins $25,000 grant for “wayfinding” signage

Howell is among eight communities statewide to each have been awarded $25,000 to support downtown enhancement and improvement projects.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer joined the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) today to announce the eight communities receiving grants are Rogers City, Grayling, Downtown Lansing, Blissfield, Howell, Evart, Adrian, and the Historic North End (Detroit).   

“Thriving, attractive downtowns are crucial to attracting talent, workers, and small businesses so we can grow our economy,” said Governor Whitmer. “Today’s investments in main streets across Michigan will improve quality of life, drive economic growth, and support good-paying jobs. Let’s keep working together to lower the cost of housing, invest in community spaces, and make our cities and towns better places to live, work, invest, and play.” 

The Main Street Vibrancy Grant Program is intended to provide grants of $25,000 to Select or Master level Michigan Main Street communities for projects that enhance the vibrancy and economic vitality of Michigan Main Street downtowns. Projects could include pop-up shop programs, implementation of a marketing or advertising campaign, physical improvements such as new seating, seasonal infrastructure, signage, or art, and other transformative projects that help create a sense of place and a more vibrant community.

Howell’s grant will be used for a wayfinding sign replacement project including sign design, fabrication, installation and maintenance.

“Vibrancy Grant funding will be instrumental in transforming the Wayfinding Signage Project from a basic navigational tool to a visually captivating experience that showcases the charm and character of Howell,” said Howell Main Street Executive Director Kate Litwin. “By enhancing walkability and raising awareness of the features and attractions found throughout the city, this project will not only benefit visitors, but also the local businesses and residents, creating a more connected and vibrant community.”

Michigan Main Street supports local communities across Michigan as they implement the Main Street Four-Point Approach®, a community-driven, comprehensive strategy encouraging economic development through historic preservation in ways appropriate for the modern marketplace.

The program aims to create communities distinguished by a “sense of place.” The rationale is based on a range of studies that show investing in creating a sense of place is an integral part of developing vibrant city centers and downtowns, thereby making the state economically stronger and culturally diverse. 

As part of the Select Level of Michigan Main Street, communities receive five years of intensive technical assistance from MEDC with a focus on revitalization strategies designed to attract new residents, business investments, economic growth and job creation to their central business districts.

After communities have completed the Select Level of the program, they can participate in the Master Level, a two-year commitment that includes additional training and networking and mentoring opportunities.

A total of 25 communities currently participate in the Michigan Main Street program at the select and master levels. To see the full list, visit here.

Over the past year, Michigan Main Street communities generated more than $60.6 million in private investment, 131 new businesses and 174 façade and building improvements. For 20 years, Michigan Main Street has been a catalyst for job growth, private investment, and community engagement leading to comprehensive economic development creating more vibrant downtowns and traditional commercial districts in Michigan.

From 2003 through 2023, 1,753 new businesses have been launched, with a total public investment of more than $137 million and total private investment of $407 million. In addition, more than 851,890 volunteer hours have been recorded by Michigan Main Street communities in revitalizing downtowns across the state.

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