A better picture for main street

ALPENA – The Downtown Development Authority and the Main Street Steering Committee are moving forward with attempting to get downtown Alpena designated a Select status by the Michigan State Housing Development Authority. With the support of the public and private sector, Alpena has many of the requirements in place that could lead to the extensive services being in the Select category brings from MSHDA.

On Tuesday Brittney Hoszkiw, organizational specialist Main Street Center Downtown and Community Services Division, presented to the DDA board what is gained by being a Select member of MMS. She also explained what a potential presentation should include and presented a timeline. Only three communities will be granted Select status.

Hoszkiw arrived in Alpena on Tuesday and was going to spend the night. She said Alpena struck her as the type of town that may fit the Select requirements.

“It is a great community which has a lot of great historic buildings and there is a great concentration rate of both retail and service businesses,” Hoszkiw said. “There are a lot of things to be very proud of here.”

Hoszkiw said Michigan Main Street offers its Select communities a great deal in terms of service and training. She said it will handle design plans, work with committee and store owner training. Outside of the services offered to make Alpena’s main street more vibrant, being a select-level also increases the odds of receiving grant money when it is applied for outside of the MMS.

In order to have a realistic chance of getting the valuable designation, many people are going to have to rally together, from inside Alpena and outside, to show MSHDA there is support for the downtown and excitement at the prospects of making it better for everyone.

“I think the hard part for every community is capturing the broad-base community support and showing it to the Michigan Main Street Advisement Committee that they are ready to move forward and that folks back home are ready to participate and realize the vision for the downtown,” she said.

The application is in the process of being completed and is due in the early part of December. There then will be a visit from MMS to Alpena in December or January, then in February a presentation will have to be given in Lansing to convince the advisement board Alpena is deserving of the Select title. Hoszkiw said there then will be a brief review period and a final determination for the three designations will be near the end of February.

Steve Schulwitz can be reached via email at sschulwitz@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5689. Follow Steve on Twitter ss_alpenanews. Read his blog, Upon Further Review … at www.thealpenanews.com.