The Power of Main Street! Part 3 of 4

Our third example of a Michigan Main Street community, Howell, is similar in size to Saline, and has been in the Michigan Main Street program since 2005.   Today, due to their volunteer efforts and partnerships with the City and other local organizations,  they are a Nationally accredited Main Street Community!  Here’s a snapshot of what has been happening in Howell…

Howell Main Street had been looking for opportunities for public art in the downtown for over a year, when a glass artist moved into a downtown loft that was owned by a member of the design committee.  The loft owner lost no time in recruiting the artist to partner with the design committee to procure a series of slumped glass panels representing the ‘Spirit of Howell.’  The panels depict popular community events, like the farmers’ market, Melon Festival, Balloon Festival, and Concerts at the Courthouse.  Next, a sculpture artist was recruited by the design committee to make a twisted steel wire sculpture in the form of  a bent-limb Indian Tree that was well known in the community and recently cut down due to disease.  Corporate sponsors were secured for 50 percent of the investment, and the remaining investment was covered by a grant from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.  The installations will be installed as part of a $1.3 million public parking lot makeover, and will be installed within landscaped areas with up lighting.

A downtown Howell book store owner loved Halloween so much that she started the Legend of Sleepy Howell in 2002.  What started as  a few kids dressing up and coming to downtown stores for some candy, turned into an event with a $10,000 budget, organized and run by the Howell Main Street promotion committee.  This free event that is held the Saturday before Halloween every year has become the best family-friendly Halloween event in Livingston County.  Those in attendance (estimated to have increased by 50 percent to 12,000 last year) are treated to the ‘Not Yet Dead Band.’ 20 candy stations stocked with 50,000 pieces of candy, inflatables, booths by local businesses with kids’ games, hay rides, a hay maze, hay climbing mountain, spooky theater, a haunted alley, s’mores and costume contest.  The promotions committee has partnered with the recreation authority to bring the ‘Headless Horseman’ 5k/10k race to the event, where an actual headless horseman leads the runners on the course!

As part of the Main Street program, Howell has experienced many successes including:

Total Volunteer Hours – 16, 708
Net new business created – 15
Existing businesses expanded – 5
New new FTE jobs – 45
Total building renovations – 70
Total building rehab investments- $1,786,819
Total private investment – $5,528,172
Total public investment – $299,800

*Source: Michigan Main Street Center 2010 Report

Volunteers utilize the Main Street Four-Point Approach to continually focus on making Howell alive with year-round activity, full of fun and diverse businesses and maintain an attractive downtown.  The next and final community we will highlight in this series is this year’s Great American Main Street Award winner, Old Town Lansing.  One of five Main Street programs to be designated in the entire country, Old Town overcame many challenges to get where they are today!

Learn more about our ‘Route ’12 to Main Street’ campaign at  We are currently preparing our application to become a Michigan Main Street community. November will be a very busy month.  The application is due December 2nd and we need your support to show our community cares about our Downtown.  Please go to the ‘Letter of Support’ tab and join us!



About Route '12 to Main Street

Route '12 to Main Street is sponsored by the Saline Historic Downtown Alliance (SHDA), a new non-profit entity focused on the revitalization of Downtown Saline for the benefit of the entire community. SHDA, with the support of the City of Saline and the EDC, is applying to become a Main Street community through the Michigan Main Street Center. It is a competitive process and over the next seven months, volunteers are working hard to prepare for the application process by educating the community, recruiting volunteers and gaining support. Benefits to become a 'Selected' Main Street community through the Michigan Main Street Center program are 5 years of technical training, design services, and increased public awareness for our community. Benefits of having a comprehensive Downtown revitalization strategy are even more, and we will be talking about these advantages in upcoming blogs.

Posted on October 26, 2011, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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