LANSING, Mich. — Every year, the Michigan Downtown Association (MDA) hosts a Lansing Day event, which brings downtown managers and stakeholders to the state capital to engage with legislators in a more informal setting.
The MDA presented a luncheon at the Anderson House Building’s Mackinac Room last week, which was attended by over 100 people. State Rep. Gary Howell, R-Deerfield Township, served as the official “host” of the event, which was attended by a large contingent of Lapeer County officials, including Lapeer Main Street Executive Director James Alt, Almont Village Manager David Trent, and Dana Walker, director of the Michigan Downtown Association, among others.
Walker, a North Branch resident and former head of the Imlay City Downtown Development Authority, stated that the Michigan Development Authority was “overjoyed” with the response received from members and politicians at the luncheon. “We had a spirited discussion about the importance of vibrant downtowns with over 60 senators and their staff members who came to lunch with us.”
The Michigan Downtown Association (MDA) was established in 1980 as a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the interest and growth of downtowns and communities throughout the state. The Michigan Downtown Association (MDA) promotes the creation, redevelopment, and ongoing enhancement of Michigan municipalities and downtown areas.
Members of the Michigan Development Authority (MDA) are organizations that promote economic development in the state of Michigan. Members include Downtown Development Authorities (DDAs), cities, townships, individuals, and enterprises. According to Walker, “the MDA highly appreciates the chance to speak with Senators and Representatives from across the State about the importance of downtowns.” According to our organization, “a vibrant downtown is essential for a region’s economic stability and prosperity, and we will continue to give information to legislators on issues related to the downtown.”
One idea that came up during the discussion was the concept of social districts, which are outdoor places that permit the consumption of alcoholic beverages in designated common areas near bars and restaurants. The City of Lapeer constructed a social district along Nepessing Street between Fox and Mason streets last year, and it is now open to the public. In addition to Lapeer, “Social Districts” are proven to be a valuable economic development tool for downtowns throughout the state of Michigan, according to Alt. “We would want to express our gratitude to our legislators for listening to their constituents and supporting this proposal.”
In addition, Alt stated that communities that have established social districts have been able to produce more sales for their restaurants and shops. According to him, “when combined with events, several firms have seen gains of up to 20 percent or more.” “As a result of the pandemic, those additional sales are quite essential.”