All of the momentum that has been mounting in Charlotte reached an exciting peak Tuesday, Feb. 14 in downtown Lansing. #CharlotteRising, its board of directors and more than 100 community supporters stated their case to a panel of judges to be accepted into the Select Level of the Michigan Main Street program — a vital part of the non-profit’s downtown revitalization strategy.
“We are ready to be a select-level community,” Jason Vanderstelt, #CharlotteRising board member, told the panel. “With the right strategy and assistance, with our can do and call to action mentality, we are set up for success.”
The large cross-section of community supporters in attendance demonstrated the collaborative spirit that exists within the #CharlotteRising movement.
“It’s important to have a firm foundation in the community and I think that we have that,” Vanderstelt said. “We have an outstanding school system. We have involved and engaged parents. We have active neighbors and obviously an engaged community. We have creative collaboration in Charlotte between residents, businesses and organizations.”
Charlotte was accepted into the Michigan Main Street program in 2016 at the Associate Level, the program’s introductory and exploratory phase. Acceptance into the Select Level — where communities receive the most benefit from the Main Street program — requires a rigorous application process, which included Tuesday’s live presentation. Michigan Main Street only accepts up to three communities into the Select Level each year.
“What we’ve seen in Charlotte is an opportunity to grow,” Vanderstelt said. “There is a lot of potential … we need technical assistance, retail training, market studies, event evaluation and ideas, and understanding new trends taking place in historic downtowns.”
Vanderstelt spoke directly to the kinds of services Michigan Main Street provides. Dillon Rush, who served as #CharlotteRising’s economic intern in 2016, followed up Vanderstelt’s opening remarks talking about the organization and its plans for revitalizing downtown Charlotte.
“The mission is to unleash our community’s potential,” Rush said of #CharlotteRising. “Its vision to be an economic catalyst for our entire community by revitalizing our downtown with Michigan Main Street at our core.”
Rush said downtown is the essence of the Charlotte community.
“It’s the beholder of our past, our present and our future,” Rush said of downtown Charlotte. “That includes the good, the bad and the ugly.”
Rush pointed to a number of projects and properties within the community that, when completely understood, point to a creascendo taking place in the community’s effort to create its masterpiece.
Bryan Myrkle, #CharlotteRising board member and Community Development Director for the City of Charlotte, said the Main Street Select Level will afford Charlotte the full-time management downtown Charlotte needs to truly thrive.
“The thing that excites me the most about Main Street is getting somebody dedicated to downtown, fulltime,” Myrkle said.
#CharlotteRising has raised more than $180,000 in pledges to fund the first year of operation under the Select Level of Main Street, with similar revenues pledged for the following four years of the program.
Myrkle said #CharlotteRising should hear if it has been accepted for the Select Level by the end of February.Main Street