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Howell named Great American Main Street Award recipient at national convention in Kansas City

Members, staff and board of the Howell Area Chamber of Commerce would like to congratulate the Howell MainStreet DDA and board members for receiving the Great American Mainstreet Award (GAMSA).  At a live stream at Aberrant Ales, a new brewpub and eatery in downtown Howell, hundreds of proud Howell residents, business leaders and community leaders gathered to cross their fingers and cheer on Howell as everyone eagerly awaited the announcement from the Main Street America presenters in Kansas City. The three national GAMSA award recipients for 2018 are: Rock Spring, Wyoming, Oregon City, Oregon and Howell, Michigan. The Howell Area Chamber of Commerce works in collaboration with Howell Main Street DDA and DDA Board to secure placemaking efforts, making Howell a destination location to eat, shop, play, worship, go to school, work and live. These efforts benefit area residents and business owners, so much so that these honors belong to all of us who call Howell home. This is the philosophy that the Howell Chamber relays with their awards as well, including 2016 Outstanding Chamber of the Year and the Michigan WORKS! “Outstanding Workforce Development Program,” received in 2017. It requires diligence and dedication to be nominated and submit the applications for these awards. The Howell Chamber is proud to be part of this outstanding community and look forward to more adventures right here in Howell!



Howell Main Street, located in Michigan, is one of the three winners of the

2018 Great American Main Street Award
Selected by a national jury of community development professionals and leaders in the fields of economic development and historic preservation, the award winners serve as exceptional models for comprehensive, preservation-based commercial district revitalization. The National Main Street Center recognized Howell Main Street’s achievement in transforming the downtown district into a cultural destination through community-driven economic development and placemaking efforts. The awards were made possible through support from U.S. Bank.

“Howell is a prime example of a small rural community that is doing big things. They have all the charm you’d expect in a historic Main Street community, but they don’t stop there,” said Patrice Frey, President and CEO of the National Main Street Center. “Downtown Howell is setting itself apart as a supportive place for entrepreneurs and business owners and that’s how we’re seeing small communities stay competitive in today’s economy.”

This transformation is spearheaded by Howell Main Street Inc., in conjunction with the Downtown Development Authority. Despite a challenging regional economic environment, downtown Howell now has a vacancy rate of just 1.2 percent and is home to a diverse mix of businesses that foster a strong sense of place to attract and keep people downtown.

In years past, downtown Howell was home to mostly professional services that filled a need, but failed to bring the kind of energy and enthusiasm needed to make downtown a place that drew people in and gave them a reason to stay. Through extensive engagement with local partners and the City, and strategic business recruitment, downtown now boasts a diverse mix of businesses featuring unique retail, dining establishments, and service industries. Anchored by entertaining destinations like the new local brewery Aberrant Ales, entrepreneurial attractions like the Frontal Lobe co-working space, and cultural institutions like the Howell Opera House and Howell Movie Theatre, downtown is once again a destination.

“Downtown Howell has long-been a charming and family-friendly town. However, the community recognized that we needed to grow, change, and get creative in our approach to making Howell a destination for our residents and visitors. The Main Street program was just the change that was needed!” states Howell Main Street C.O.O. and DDA Director, Cathleen Edgerly. “Through years of hard work, strategic planning, collaboration and creative vision, we are proud to have fostered a strong sense of place in our community. Today you’ll find millennials and retirees alike coming to downtown Howell as a place to invest, live, work, and play!”

The impact of the Main Street program, and its focus on deliberate, strategic investment in downtown is especially evident in Howell’s burgeoning arts scene. What began as a couple one-off initiatives to bring outdoor art to the district has become a transformative movement in the community. In the last three years alone, Howell Main Street has overseen the addition of murals in the downtown district, installed six new art-inspired bike racks, and raised over $30,000 for an alley transformation resulting in a pedestrian plaza and outdoor art gallery.

Taken together, these efforts have transformed Howell from a quaint and charming historic bedroom community into a thriving downtown that draws thousands of students, young families, and retirees to arts and cultural celebrations year-round.

“Being named a Great American Main Street Award winner is not the end for downtown Howell. While the staff, volunteers, and community partners have set-up a solid framework of success, we look forward to the Howell Main Street program continuing to push the envelope and lead positive and purposeful economic growth in our city,” states Howell resident and Outreach Coordinator, Kate Litwin.

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