Lake Orion’s Downtown Development Authority captured the Spirit of Main Street award for the second time as 10 downtowns were honored in May during the gala celebration at the Flagstar Strand Theatre for the Performing Arts in Pontiac.
More than 200 people, including many local and county officials and business leaders, joined Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson at the Main Street Oakland County annual event to recognize and honor communities, businesses and volunteers for their efforts to preserve and energize their downtowns.
“The energy, passion and vision the communities, volunteers and businesses bring to Main Street Oakland County makes the program the success it is and their downtowns the attractive destinations they are,” Patterson said. “Such hard work and such tremendous results. If you’ve touched one of our Main Street communities in one way or another, congratulations and thank you for what you do. Thanks to the county planning team that makes the program run so smoothly. And I’m excited to welcome Madison Heights as the newest member of the Main Street Oakland County family.”
Proclamations were presented to Genisys Credit Union and Flagstar Bank, who each fund grants to enhance and improve the county’s downtowns.
- The Genisys “Spirit of Main Street Micro Business Startup Grant” funded projects in Ortonville, Highland, Royal Oak, Holly, Pontiac and Berkley, supporting investment of $336,000.
- Flagstar’s “Main Street Oakland County Placemaking and Façade Grant” funded 14 projects, supporting investment of more than $347,000.
Officials from both financial institutions said their grant programs would continue in 2019.
McLaren Oakland was given a proclamation from Patterson, thanking it for its community involvement and support of multiple events and initiatives, and ongoing contributions to downtown Pontiac. Madison Heights officials were honored with a proclamation, welcoming them to the Main Street Oakland County program.
During the evening, which was themed “Main Street Radio Hour,” honors were given in 14 categories. Main Street Oakland County created the awards program in 2004 to recognize excellence in downtown revitalization in such areas as design, economic restructuring, organization and promotion. The judging panel was comprised of experts in historic preservation and economic development.
The Lake Orion Downtown Development Authority received a $2,000 cash award from Genisys Credit Union as the Spirit of Main Street winner for its unique, radio-themed video about the global connections of its small downtown. Lake Orion also won in 2017.
Clawson’s Leon & Lulu and the Clawson Downtown Development Authority split a $1,500 award, sponsored by Turner Restoration, for its display window showing community pride with a radio hour
Other winners were:
- Volunteer of the Year: Chris Halas, Farmington
- Local Leader of the Year: Angela Lemon, Holly
- Board Member of the Year: Valerie Glander, Clawson
- Business Owner of the Year: Andy Gilbert, Berkley
- Celebrating Main Street: Hauntiac, Pontiac
- On a Shoestring: Downtown Placemaking Pedestrian Alley, Ferndale
- Out in the Open: Flint Street Alleyway, Lake Orion
- Telling Your Story: E-Newsletters, Lake Orion
- Game Changer: Downtown Shopping Bags, Berkley
- Game Changer: Witches Night Out, Ortonville
- Preservation Action: Vince Iafano and Cari Cucksey
- Community Influencer: Daniela Walters, Pontiac
- Community Influencer: Pamela Hansen and Elina Costello, Franklin
- Program on the Rise: Lathrup Village
The event was sponsored by ITC, A Fortis Company; SMART; Genisys Credit Union; the Oakland County Business Finance Corp.; McLaren Oakland; The Dobrusin Law Firm and Turner Restoration.
Since 2001, Main Street Oakland County downtowns have generated over $837 million in new public and private investment, created 8,086 jobs and established 1,163 new businesses. In 2018, public and private investment totaled $50.2 million and resulted in 450 net new jobs; 60 net new businesses; and construction of more than 138,000 square feet of floor space.
Main Street is a trademarked program of the National Main Street Center in Chicago. Auburn Hills, Berkley, Birmingham, Clarkston, Clawson, Farmington, Ferndale, Franklin, Groveland Township, Hazel Park, Highland Township, Holly, Holly Township, Lake Orion, Lathrup Village, Leonard, Madison Heights, Oak Park, Ortonville, Oxford, Pontiac, Rochester, Royal Oak, South Lyon and Wixom comprise Main Street Oakland County.
Oakland County is the first and still only county in the United States to operate a full-service county-wide Main Street coordinating program. It is available to the county’s 32 historic downtowns, heritage corridors and mixed-use urban centers.