Wayland Main Street/DDA executive director Ingrid Miller addressed a crowd after accepting a $200,000 check from MEDC executive vice president Greg Tedder (left) and MEDC’s Sue DeVries, shown holding the check. (Photo by Virginia Ransbottom)

Wayland’s facade program ‘snowballs’ with $200,000 MEDC grant

By: 
Virginia Ransbottom, Staff Writer

Standing in front of a vacant building at 120 S. Main St., in Wayland on Monday, Sept. 10, Main Street/DDA executive director, Ingrid Miller accepted a $200,000 Façade Restoration Initiative grant and said the building was most likely the next façade grant recipient.

Bill Sorensen, the owner of Red Wagon Garden Center is moving his floral and gift shop downtown to the old D.W. Shattuck building and calling it “Dahlia City Floral and Gifts.”

Wayland was one of only three Michigan communities selected to receive Michigan Economic Development Corporation funding through the new Façade Restoration Initiative’ pilot program.

The grant funding will provide matching funds of up to 50 percent of façade restoration costs.

Miller said with the grant, the Main Street/DDA program hopes more businesses will apply for façade funding.

Miller said the Haircut Hut was the first business to get local façade grant funding. Acqua in Vino, Jayda Gale Distillery, the Main Street office followed, while 110 through 118 W. Superior Street is currently underway as well as the West Michigan Veteran’s Assistance Program store at 130 W. Superior St.

“This is a new initiative for us,” said MEDC executive vice president Greg Tedder. “We’ve always been supportive of façade programs and we know an aesthetically pleasing downtown increases foot traffic, which increase sales, which increases property values, which incentivizes other property owners to take care of their property—so it’s kind of got this snowball effect.”

Recognizing a lack of local funding available, the MEDC also recognized the experience and expertise to administer it was at the local level. Making funding available, 60 communities and DDA’s applied.

“Wayland’s application was the strongest of all of them,” Tedder said to cheers and applause from about 30 local community members. “You were selected because of expertise, history, track record of success and setting up clear guidelines and expectations of the program.”

As a pilot program, Tedder said the MEDC plans to help put money into other communities in the future.

“We are confident this is going to be a successful model for everybody else,” he said.

Miller said the community was excited to be participating in the pilot program.

“The snowball effect is 100 percent true because we have done a great job with our façade program and had the unfortunate opportunity to have to say, slow down you have to wait until maybe next year—and now we can spend all this money.”

The building owners and engagement in our community are top notch and we really couldn’t do it without the owners, the investments they are making, the staff and an amazing DDA board and volunteers all heading in the same direction.

“We are really excited to be shining up downtown and bringing in new business.”

Sorensen hopes to open “Dahlia City Floral and Gifts” by Nov. 1. The move will allow the floral and gifts to double its size in the former D.W. Shattuck store, rebuilt after the disastrous fire of 1902. Sorensen’s Red Wagon Garden Center on Division Street will expand its focus on the greenhouse and garden center, he said.

Before Miller credited others for downtown renovations, Wayland City Council member Rick Mathis read a prepared statement at the council meeting the week prior to the check presentation.

He said the efforts of the DDA/Main Street program have reached Master Level status, opened support of multiple local businesses, created downtown growth, received national recognition and honors and now a $200,000 grant that only went to three communities in the state.

“Under Ingrid’s leadership, the DDA/Main Street has surpassed the vision of what we wanted it to be,” Mathis said. “We are extremely lucky to have Ingrid as our director and I want to personally applaud all of her efforts and hours spent to make Wayland a great place to be.

“I am truly honored to have her as a part of the City and Wayland and to everyone else involved.

“This is a big deal.”

Virginia Ransbottom can be contacted at vransbottom@allegannews.com or at (269) 673-5534.

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