Michigan Downtown Association News

Downtown Managers Are Essential

Now, More Than Ever, Downtown Management is Essential

In 1975, the State of Michigan, with the implementation of PA 197 (recently amended to PA57 of 2018), created Downtown Development Authorities and Tax Increment Finance Authorities for the purpose, “… to correct and prevent deterioration in residential, commercial, and industrial areas and certain other areas… to promote residential and economic growth….”

Now, during the current COVID-19 crisis, downtown management has never been more essential to the economic stability of a community and region.  We must use every resource available to prevent further deterioration of our core commercial areas. Communities must be ready to promote residential and economic growth once the current health crisis has passed.

According to the Executive Order 2020-21, issued by Governor Whitmer on March 23, 2020:
    8. For purposes of this order, critical infrastructure workers are those workers described by the Director of the     U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency in his guidance of March 19, 2020 on the COVID-19     response (available here). Such workers include some workers in each of the following sectors: 
        h. Communications and information technology, including news media.
        i. Other community-based government operations and essential functions.
What essential and critical services can a downtown manager provide during the Stay at Home Order?  Downtown managers across the State are quickly and accurately communicating with small business owners the details of loans, grants, initiatives, and programs designed to assist small business during the COVID-19 crisis.  Virtual Town Hall meetings have been held to ensure business owners are given updates regarding funding opportunities. Virtual Business Assistance Teams have been formed to provide expert consultation to businesses directly affected by the Stay at Home Order.  Downtown managers are using social media to alert community members of important health precautions, update business hours of local restaurants, and connect employees to resources regarding unemployment procedures. Downtown residents and public and non-profit institutions rely on downtown managers for support and vital communications.  Downtown managers are already planning for the rebirth of downtowns, developing and amending economic development plans.  Downtown managers are planning for our future.

A downtown is the commercial core of a community that serves as its social and economic center.  The COVID-19 virus may have changed how downtown organizations facilitate economic growth, but it has not diminished the importance of effective management.  In truth, now, as every day the list of small businesses closing doors grows and main streets become eerily quiet, downtown managers are more essential than ever. 


Dana Walker
Director, Michigan Downtown Association