New Main Street grant helps Old Town build brand, sense of place

The Old Town Commercial Association will get a virtual facelift thanks to a $15,000 grant from the Michigan Mainstreet Association.
OTCA Executive Director Austin Ashley says the grant will help OTCA further distinguish and brand the Old Town district by revamping the association's website—now a online destination unto itself for businesses, property owners, visitors and volunteers.
The new website will feature a business directory, calendar of events, new and available properties, and membership information. Construction of the site began April 1, with all the basic, functional areas completed by June. Additional improvements coming in late summer and early fall include rolling in information from festival websites, as well as additional features for Old Town visitors, customers and business owners.
"We're really excited to be getting a more robust data base system," says Ashley. "That will allow us to better serve up and catalog all the things Old Town has to offer."
Rokusek, a full-service marketing and design firm from Quincy, Ill., was awarded the contract with the OTCA. Ashley says the firm's experience working with the national Mainstreet organization was perceived as an asset.
"Having someone with an outside perspective can also help us from the consumer standpoint," Ashley says. "They can see the full picture and help us convey the message about what someone can discover about Old Town—not just what we already know."
The branding service provided through the grant is part of a range of technical assistance offered to Old Town Lansing through Michigan Main Street. Old Town has participated with the Michigan Main Street program for 10 years, and is among 45 Main Street communities statewide.
Old Town Commercial Association is an independent 501c3 organization that has engaged thousands of volunteers in community development activities in the North Lansing neighborhood. These activities have resulted in $7.4 million in private investment, 91 facade renovations, 85 new businesses, and 38,000 volunteer hours since the program joined Michigan Main Street.
Old Town Lansing won the Great American Main Street Award from the National Main Street Center in 2011 for its overall strength, demonstrated impact, commitment to historic preservation, and model partnerships with the public and private sector.
Source: Austin Ashley, Executive Director, Old Town Commercial Association
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
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