NILES: A MICHIGAN MAIN STREET COMMUNITY

Niles Main Street Mission Statement

"The purpose of Niles Main Street is to enhance our community identity and heritage, foster a center of activity and ensure economic stability for the heart of downtown Niles through broad based community support."

Main Street

The architectural detail and historical significance of downtown buildings is now available for all to see and enjoy.

Since January 2001, Niles has been working a program for downtown revitalization utilizing the National Main Street Center's (NMSC) Four Point Approach to commercial district revitalization, along with their eight guiding principles: 1) creating a comprehensive, 2) incremental, 3) self-help program focusing on 4) the development of partnerships, 5) using history as an asset, 6) quality projects, 7) changing attitudes and practices, and finally 8) implementation...making a difference today.

This inclusive and results driven methodology has been utilized by the NMSC to create independent, self-sustaining Main Street Programs in over 1500 small cities and towns throughout the country over the past 20+ years.

Main Street programs are volunteer-driven, with broad-based community support. The Niles Main Street board of directors and various committee members represent a cross-section of Niles community stakeholders.

Initial activities sought to create highly visible projects that had immediate impact in the district, such as the facade improvements, streetscape upgrades, and promotional events.

1960s downtown

Now that revitalization efforts are maturing, downtown has begun the process of conducting market analysis for the purpose of developing an appropriate marketing plan, business mix, as well as to identify market gaps and encourage business retention, expansion and attraction to occur.

Niles Main Street is ready to grow. In order to accomplish all we can, we need your help. At Niles Main Street there are jobs that last one hour and committees you can work with for years! If you are interested in getting involved with the program, read about the four committees and their 2005 plans to see what interests you. If you have any questions, don't hesitate to call 269-687-4332 or e-mail us.

The Main Street approach to downtown revitalization is based on the following four points:

  1. Design
  2. Organization
  3. Economic Restructuring
  4. Promotion
Design takes advantage of the visual opportunities inherent in the commercial district by directing attention to the improvement of all its physical elements: public and private buildings, store fronts, signs, public spaces, landscaping, merchandising, window displays, parking and traffic circulation. Its aim is to stress the importance of quality design in all of these areas, to educate people about design issues, and to expedite design improvements in the district. The Design committees' goal is to work to provide design assistance to property owners, promote downtown's architectural history and undertake some public improvements. 2005 will be a busy year, as the committee works with the Michigan State Historic Preservation office to explore the potential of designating the Main Street district a National Historic District. Other projects include the development of Window Design and Merchandising programs as well as working to define and develop a Directional Signage System.

flowers - Copy

Organization establishes consensus and cooperation by building partnerships among the various groups that have a stake in the commercial district. Through these partnerships, the Main Street revitalization program is able to provide effective, ongoing management and advocacy of the district. Diverse groups from the public and private sectors (city government, banks, merchants, merchant organizations, civic associations, property owners, community leaders and others) must work together to maintain a successful program. The Organization committee will be focusing on developing a Main Street Membership program, as well as coordinating volunteers. This committee will also partner with the Promotions Committee to explore the development of another program fund raising event. Lastly, the Organization committee will begin to develop a speaker's bureau in order to educate the community about Main Street.

hanging lights

Economic Restructuring strengthens the district's existing economic base. This is accomplished by retaining and expanding existing businesses to provide a balance commercial mix, by converting unused or underutilized space into productive property, and by sharpening the competitiveness and merchandising skills of the commercial district's business owners. The Economic Restructuring committee will be using the market study prepared by a company called Downtown Professional Network, which works through the Michigan Main Street program to identify market opportunities, develop programs to strengthen the current district, and recruit new businesses to the district.

Promotion takes many forms, but the goal is to rekindle community pride in the commercial district and change people's attitudes from negative to positive. Promotion increases sales through special retail events, brings new audiences to the district for festivals and celebrations, and builds the district's image through marketing campaigns. All of these activities serve not only to attract shoppers, but also attract investors, developers, and new businesses.

hanging lights

The Promotions committee is responsible for the January Hunter Ice Festival, the May Celebration Auction, the June Garage Barrage, the November Decorate Downtown for the Holidays, and the December  Holiday Homecoming, as well as the Blooming Bridges Project. This year, they will be developing additional special events, new retail promotions and downtown marketing activities.


If you'd liked to learn more about the program, call our office at 269-687-4332 to set up a time to meet with someone and talk a little more in-depth about what we do and see where might be the best place for you to help Niles realize the Vision Statement that "Downtown Niles is a vibrant, exciting, inviting and a welcoming place to live, work, learn, shop and play."

christmas decorating

Downtown revitalization requires the cooperation and commitment of a broad-based coalition of public and private groups. The current Downtown Niles Revitalization Project and Niles Main Street are a result of cooperation and partnerships developed between the City of Niles, the Downtown Development Authority (DDA), Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA), Michigan State Historic Preservation Office (MiSHPO), Local Initiative Support Corporation (LISC), the Greater Niles Community Development Corporation (GNCDC), the Four Flags Area Chamber of Commerce, downtown business and property owners, local foundations such as the Hunter Foundation and the Plym Foundation and countless volunteers from the greater Niles community.