Q&A with Kellie Rupp, the Bay City Downtown Management Board’s new Marketing Director

Kellie Rupp has been working as support staff for the Downtown Management Board (DMB) and Downtown Development Authority (DDA) since January 2020. For the last year, she’s been picking up extra duties as the organizations were short-handed. This month, that extra work paid off as Rupp was promoted to DMB Marketing Director.

“At first, I was a little nervous,” Rupp says. “But I learned more in that year than I thought I would, and it really helped me gain the confidence I needed. Aside from work, I really enjoy being part of our community. If there’s an event Downtown, I’m probably there.”

Rupp is currently the Chair of Energize the Young Professionals Network and a Chamber Ambassador, both through the Bay Area Chamber of Commerce.  For the past two years, she has served on the board with the Kawkawlin River Watershed Association. Rupp volunteers for various other events and organizations, including the United Way of Bay County, Hop Riot, and the Chalk Walk committee. She is a 2021 graduate of the Great Lakes Bay Regional Alliance Institute for Leaders and is currently in the Bay County Leadership class of 2023.

“Kellie held things together through 2021 somewhat on her own with the help of the executive committee, so both the DDA and the DMB boards, and has really proven herself to be a value and a great asset to our downtown community,” says Alan LaFave, Downtown Management Board Chair.

LaFave adds there was an interest in creating partner positions — one focused more on marketing for the DMB and the other on infrastructure for the DDA. Each position focuses on benefiting Downtown Bay City through communication and advocation of businesses and life in general. With this partnership, Michael Bacigalupo was chosen to serve as the new Downtown Bay City Development Director.

“It was natural when we looked at how we would do this that we would want Kellie to grow into this position,” LaFave says. “She's really been advocating for more responsibility, and this gives her the opportunity to really, really, shine in this role. We're very excited to have her in place here.”

Q: Tell us about your new role.

A: In my new role, I implement and oversee all details of marketing and events for Downtown Bay City put on by the Downtown Management Board. I manage the social media pages for Downtown, including Downtown Bay City on Facebook and on Instagram.

I plan and market all of the Downtown Management Board events such as the Wine Walk, Apps and Ales, Feet on the Street, Santa’s Arrival, Sidewalk Days, seasonal open houses and a few more. I act as a liaison between the City of Bay City and the downtown merchants/organizations and organize and facilitate monthly board meetings and sub-committee meetings.

Q: What, if anything, do you intend to change?

A: It’s not so much that I want to change anything, but I would like to expand and make our events and marketing presence even better than before! I think a lot of our current events are a staple and people look forward to coming to them every year. The DMB sub-committees have really been activated and I think that with the events, marketing, beautification committees we will make some great and exciting decisions moving forward.

Q: What are you most looking forward to?

A: In the short term, I am looking forward to Santa’s Arrival in Wenonah Park on Nov. 25th. Every year, Santa makes his first appearance in Downtown Bay City the Friday after Thanksgiving, riding in on a horse and sleigh at the Friendship Shell. There’s Santa, singing, dancing, Dry Dock and just overall a very merry energy that is Downtown that you certainly don’t want to miss. Working with the Clements Family is an added bonus.

I think that is my favorite part about getting to plan events for Downtown, is that people are happy to be there, and people want to be there. Seeing a smile on their face puts a smile on my face.

Long term, I am excited to see what we can do. Downtown and Bay City, Bay County as a whole even, is a great place to be and I want to showcase that and really show off our town, that it IS a destination with a lot of opportunity with a strong community behind it.

I am also looking forward to learning from my colleague Mike Bacigalupo. Mike knows a lot about Bay City, downtown specifically, and has put on some of the biggest events and shows Wenonah Park has ever seen, he wears a lot of hats in Bay City so I’m excited to learn a thing or two from him as well.

Q: What, if any, challenges will there be?

A: Since I’ve been with the DDA and DMB for almost three years now, I’ve gotten into a good groove of what I’m doing ­– and if I don’t, then I know I have the support of boards behind me. I’ve gotten to know the executive committee and board members pretty well and I know who I can or need to reach out to in regard to anything going on, personally or professionally, and I appreciate that.

Q: Anything else you’d like to mention?

A: I’m so excited to be in this new role and growing with the organization. I still am in good contact with people I worked with at different organizations and when I tell them what I’m up to, they’ve said ‘You’re exactly where you’ve always wanted to be;' and that’s true, I couldn’t be happier about that!

I’ve gotten to meet some of the brightest people in the region, work with the greatest merchants and represent our exceptional Downtown Bay City along the way. I can confidently say that I love my job.

The Bay City DMB meets at 8 a.m. on the third Wednesday of each month in Room 317 inside City Hall, 301 Washington Ave. The DMB focuses on Bay City’s principle shopping district with a 13-member board of directors focusing on the promotion, marketing, beautification, and maintenance of the district to ensure the vitality of downtown whose boundaries mimic those of the DDA —Woodside Avenue, Madison Avenue, Columbus Avenue, and the Saginaw River. The DMB works on projects and objectives by applying special assessment revenues.
Enjoy this story? Sign up for free solutions-based reporting in your inbox each week.