Putting Lansing on the Map
The National Trust for Historic Preservation is an American member-supported organization that was founded in 1949 by congressional charter to support preservation of historic buildings and neighborhoods through a range of programs and activities. Old Town and many other progressive communities across the country have been chosen for their exceptional accomplishments in revitalizing the nation’s historic and traditional Main Street commercial districts by using the proven Main Street Four-Point Approach®.
By once again rallying the support of so many, Old Town stakeholders will be pinning the neighborhood on the map. An award of this nature will be celebrating many wonderful things about Lansing’s arts and culture district, but the most important of all is the power of committed community members and their vision for their neighborhood.
In the years since the Old Town Commercial Association (OTCA) started their grassroots mission of community and economic development in the North Lansing neighborhood in 1996, buildings have been filled with the highest concentration of creative service businesses in mid-Michigan, growing from the intimidating 90 percent vacancy rate to the mere 8 percent today. Over 100 festivals have sprung up on the calendar year around, and the one-of-a-kind shopping opportunities are unbeatable.
It is hoped these statistics will be what allows Old Town Lansing to be named a Great American Main Street Award winner in May, but will resonate long after as being an empowered community. By giving the community development tools to the stakeholders in the form of training and support, Old Town and Lansing will be able to grow exponentially on the shoulders of the people that believe in their community.
In an economy that is at times limited in resources, OTCA has made a conscious effort to capitalize on the one resource that the capital region is flush with, talented and passionate individuals. Similar organizations like the Westside Commercial Association, Allen Neighborhood Center and REO Town Commercial Association continue to take similar strides toward a more vibrant Lansing at the hands of the many stakeholders that believe in it.
The winners of the GAMSA will be selected by a national jury composed of former award winners, community development professionals, representatives from government and foundations, and journalists who are active in community economic development and historic preservation.
GAMSA semifinalists and winners demonstrate exemplary achievement in the process of strengthening their downtowns and commercial districts based on such criteria as active involvement of the public and private sectors, broad-based community support for the revitalization effort, quality of achievements over time, innovative solutions to significant problems, commitment to historic preservation, evolving track record of successful commercial district revitalization, economic impact of the revitalization program and successful small business development.
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Brittney Hoszkiw is executive director of the Old Town Commercial Association, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the revitalization of Lansing’s Old Town. For additional information, visit www.iloveoldtown.org.