Start with people who care.
All successful communities start with a small and determined group of people who genuinely want to better their community. This is, by far, the most important ingredient. All the principles of placemaking can be taught. Energy and enthusiasm for one’s community cannot.
In Boyne City, it was five people, appointed by no one but themselves, who took on the mantle of leadership in revitalizing their downtown. These five people did research on different methodologies to revitalize downtowns. They discovered a program created by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, called Main Street, which bases its approach on historic preservation. Three of them paid out of their own pocket to attend the National Main Streets Conference in New Orleans. They were convinced this would be the way to revive their downtown.
At roughly the same time, the state launched the Michigan Main Street program, a coordinating partner of the National Trust and charged with helping communities implement the Main Street approach. This group led the application process for Boyne City and found themselves as one of the first four communities chosen to participate in the program.
The Boyne City Main Street/DDA, as it is known now, has seen tremendous success in revitalizing their downtown into a vibrant hub. The five individuals have grown to a volunteer base that has donated more than 21,000 hours. Their efforts have translated into 20 net new or expanded businesses, more than $12.5M in private and public investment, creating more than 100 net new jobs and restoring 14 historic facades. Their downtown has transformed itself from faded industrial center to a jewel in the crown of the northern Michigan. It started with five people who wanted to help their community.