Charlotte ramps up revitalization efforts with state and community support

Volunteers in Charlotte, Mich., have been leading efforts to reinvent the city's historic downtown after Gov. Rick Snyder named the city one of 10 communities for the Rising Tide program. Sponsored by the Michigan Department of Talent and Economic Development, the program works with local leaders and provides communities with the tools they need to attract new businesses and help existing employers grow.
Adopting the name #Charlotte Rising, the 14-member committee of business and civic leaders has been building momentum through public art projects, building improvements, and creating green space and gathering places. A pocket park is being planned once a dilapidated building is torn down, providing a small open public space between two buildings across from Charlotte City Hall. Also underway is the rehab of a vacant market area to create a contemporary public space for farmer's markets and social gatherings.
"Our mission is simple but profound," says Dillon Rush, economic development intern and #Charlotte Rising member from the University of Michigan. "To unleash Charlotte's community potential. In other words, our mission is to make Charlotte a thriving place for our friends, families and futures."
The 10 Rising Tide communities were chosen based on a series of economic factors including unemployment rate, poverty levels and labor participation rates. Among the organizations committing assets to Rising Tide communities are the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), Talent and Economic Development (TED), and Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA).
Right around the same time Charlotte was named a Rising Tide community, the small city was also selected as one of three Michigan Main Street communities. Members of #Charlotte Rising have worked to transform Charlotte according to the principles of the Main Street program, and to elevate the community from associate to select level through the National Main Street Center.
"People from all over the community are buying in to the direction of where we want the community to go," says #Charlotte Rising treasurer Garrett Bensinger. "There's a lot of momentum and a common camaraderie. We've been given some proven processes that help us as a community."
Source: Garrett Bensinger, Treasurer, #Charlotte Rising
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
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