Grayling Turns to Michigan Main Street for Some Much Needed Help - Northern Michigan's News Leader

Grayling Turns to Michigan Main Street for Some Much Needed Help

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Trying to bring life back to their downtown, one northern Michigan community welcomes some help from the state.

Grayling has turned to the Michigan Main Street program to help revitalize their main street.

While the program doesn't provide money, they provide guidance, training, and services to communities all over the state.

If Grayling receives help from Michigan Main Street, it's a commitment that will mean a lot of work for the community.

Many say they're willing to get their hands dirty if it means their downtown will thrive again.

"We've been plagued with empty storefronts," explains Terry Dickinson, a chair for the Grayling Revitalization Improvement Project.

This past winter alone, six businesses disappeared from Grayling's downtown.

"That merry-go-round of businesses is not healthy, we need to get businesses, we need them to get established, and rooted so they stay here," Dickinson shares.

It's just one reason the Graying Revitalization Improvement Project, or GRIP, hopes to get some help from Michigan Main Street.

"We have the selective level, which Grayling is currently trying to be a part of, where we work with the community to set up a local main street program," explained Laura Krizov, the manager of the Michigan Main Street Center.

Grayling may be on the right track to a turnaround, but they expect it will take baby steps.

"I think that the building structure that they have downtown to work with, to start a local main street program, we say the bones are there. It's now just really covering those bones and taking it back to the historic way it used to look like," says Krizov.

Those working hard to revive Grayling think the Main Street program will do the trick after other failed attempts at change.

"We've tried other vehicles," says Dickinson, "but from my research Michigan Main Street has been the most effective in expanding businesses, bringing in new businesses, re-façading storefronts, they have an excellent track record."

With strong community support, many are confident Grayling's downtown will take on a new life, in no time.

"By the second year, yes, we want 100 percent occupancy, we want activities throughout the summer that bring people back and they find Grayling interesting, exciting, vibrant. Turn it into the jewel of the north, that's what we're looking at."

In February, Grayling will learn if they have been selected as one of three cities that will receive help from Michigan Main Street.

9 & 10's Meredith Barack and photojournalist Jeff Blakeman looked into how the program could help Grayling.