Michigan Downtown Association News

Press Release: Michigan Downtown Association to Host Annual Statewide Downtowns Conference in Bay City, Oct. 18 & 19

The Michigan Downtown Association (MDA) will host its annual statewide Michigan Downtowns Conference on Wednesday, Oct. 18 and Thursday, Oct. 19 at the Scottish Rite Masonic Center, 614 Center Ave. in Bay City, MI.
The conference will feature sessions on specific downtown programs and issues with the theme “Focus Forward: Join the Downtown Movement.” This year’s conference also marks the kick-off of the MDA’s new statewide awards program to recognize excellence and achievements in downtown revitalization. The conference begins at noon on Oct. 18 with a welcome by Kathi Newsham, Mayor of Bay City, and a live performance by the Garber High School Varsity Choir.

Now more than ever, Downtown Development is a positive, powerful, and multi-faceted movement with momentum and an increasing number of diversified stakeholders. The Downtown Development movement attracts people of all ages and experiences, includes small towns and large cities, and has an exciting future.
The presenting sponsor of the conference is Wantify, a company based in Birmingham, MI, which is developing a unique phone application for businesses to better reach and maintain contact with their customers. Other local and statewide sponsors and partners will be available at the Vendor Expo during the conference to describe their products and services.
Conference speakers will include Donovan Rypkema, president of PlaceEconomics in Washington D.C., as well as an author, economist, lecturer, and national expert in the economic benefits of downtown revitalization and historic preservation; and Dan Gilmartin, director of the Michigan Municipal League and author of “The Economics of Place.” Panel sessions for this anticipated conference will include topics covering stakeholder relationships; leveraging community assets; private investing; historic preservation; planning and landscaping; the craft alcohol industry; and more.

“We have prepared an excellent program full of valuable information for downtown professionals with all levels of experience,” said MDA chairperson Becky Goodman. “We are extremely pleased to have Donovan Rypkema with us, not only as a keynote speaker, but also as a session presenter.  His knowledge and inspiration are legendary. We are also excited to present our first annual awards for downtown revitalization.”

Nominees for the MDA’s first annual awards in Downtown Revitalization are:

Best Economic Development Project Over $1 Million
Nominees are The Times Loft (Bay City), Jenifer Acosta Development; City Hall Artspace Lofts (Dearborn), Artspace; The Outfield (Lansing), Gillespie Group; The Plaza at Cadillac Commons, City of Cadillac; Frankenmuth Fishway Project, Frankenmuth DDA; Terra Square Farmer’s Market & Event Center, City of Hudsonville; The Vogue Theatre (Manistee), Historic Vogue Theatre of Manistee; Northland Center Redevelopment, City of Southfield; Chicago Drive Corridor Transformation (City of Grandville), Beckett & Raeder; Plymouth Arts & Recreation Complex (City of Plymouth), Plymouth Arts & Recreation Complex (PARC).
Best Economic Development Public Project Under $1 Million
Nominees include Façade Project at Mitchell’s Department Store and Crossroads, City of Leslie DDA; Davison Blight Elimination Façade Project, City of Davison; Paul Henry Trail Extension & Riverfront Improvement Project, Village of Middleville; Island Books & Crafts Storefront Façade Improvement Project (Sault Ste. Marie), Leslie Townsend and Kelli Jarvis-Townsend; Jackson Blackman Park (City of Jackson), Beckett & Raeder. 

Best Promotions & Marketing Project/Program Communities Over 10,000 Population
The nominee was Destination Branding, Downtown Lansing, Inc. 
Best Promotions & Marketing Project/Program: Small Town Under 10,000 Population
Nominees include Imlay City Downtown Art in Action, Imlay City DDA; First Annual Barry County BrewFest 2016 (Village of Middleville), Barry County Chamber of Commerce; I Love Summer in Sparta; Village of Sparta DDA.
There will also be awards for the MDA Volunteer of the Year and Lifetime Achievement in Downtown Revitalization.
Advanced registration for the conference is $160 for MDA members, $205 for non-members, and $50 for MDA student members. Registration after Oct. 10 and on-site is $185 for MDA members, $230 for non-members, and $55 for MDA student members.
Conference highlights include a walking tour of local redevelopment projects in Downtown Bay City, an MDA legislative update, and an MDA Meet & Greet on Wednesday, Oct. 18 at Tavern 101 beginning at 5:30 p.m.
Registration payments may be mailed to Michigan Downtown Association, P.O. Box 82369, Rochester, MI 48308. Payments must be received by Oct. 10 and checks should be made payable to the Michigan Downtown Association. Registration is also open online at www.michigandowntowns.com.