Evart DDA begins Selected City program process

EVART — Seats quickly filled in the Community Building at the Osceola County 4-H/FFA Fairgrounds on Wednesday, April 11, as Evart community members gathered to learn how they can participate in being a Selected City in the Michigan Main Street program.

During the announcement and kick-off event Wednesday, attendees heard from state and national Main Street officials, who will be working with the Evart Downtown Development Authority, community members and stakeholders to revitalize their downtown.

“The DDA has an annual goal-setting session,” said Alan Bengry, DDA board member. “One of our goals was to be a part of the Michigan Main Street program. We decided around Oct. 1 to apply to be a Selected City.”

Bengry said it took a few months to get together the information they needed to apply for the program and the board was notified that Evart was selected in early March.

“It was approximately a one-year process from setting the goal to achieving it,” he said. “We’re very excited.”

Evart is the 22nd community in Michigan to be a Selected City in the program.

“We are very excited to welcome you to this program,” said Norma Ramirez de Miess, National Main Street Center senior program officer and director of leadership development. “We want your downtown to be the hub of where people go to hang out. The downtown of a community reflects the economic vitality. We believe we can all come together and form a strong base to achieve a lot. We want Main Street to be a tool for management opportunities in the community.

“We bring all the pieces together and work with you to achieve success.”

Miess reviewed the guiding principles that she said help communities be successful with the program. Principles include being comprehensive, implementation-oriented and community-driven, as well as building on existing efforts. She also noted community members can participate in four different committees — based on organization, design, promotion and economic vitality — to spark a success revitalization.

“The hope is through the Main Street program, we can say we have a strong sense of ownership of downtown,” Miess said.

Attendees were encouraged to talk with their peers and stakeholders about community engagement events, which will be reviewed to create a baseline report of the type of projects in need of attention.

“There is going to be a tremendous amount of work involved,” Bengry said. “We will be looking for volunteers for our committees. They will be crucial to our success.”