Who We Are
A One-of-a-Kind Cool City
To actively revitalize Portland's vibrant, charming, and unique downtown into a gathering place--one that uses broad-based community support to:
- Provide opportunities to entrepreneurs;
- Sustain a strong economic foundation for the region; and
- Safeguard history, tradition, and a sense of community for residents and visitors.
The Portland Main Street Program
The Michigan Main Street program is a long-term approach to revitalizing Michigan’s struggling downtown business districts. Portland was one of only four cities in the state chosen for this valuable and prestigious program when it began in Michigan in 2003. The Portland Main Street Action Committee worked hard to achieve both "Michigan Main Street" status and "Michigan Cool City" status in 2003.
There are now 14 Selected and Master Level Main Street Communities in Michigan, with many more to be included in the coming years. Portland is also one of 1,200 Main Street communities in the United States today!
Did you know that Portland was the first Michigan city to be chosen for both the Main Street Program and the Cool Cities Pilot Program?
Since that time, a program change has allowed all Main Street Communities to carry the "Cool City" designation, but Portland is the only Main Street community that applied for and earned the "Cool City" designation on its own!
In 2003, Portland was chosen as one of only four cities to participate in Michigan’s first Main Street program. The Main Street selection team did not simply look at Portland’s application and its enthusiastic presentation. Our commitment to the downtown’s future and our history of sound, insightful economic development proved to the selection team that we have what it takes to be a Main Street Community! And the residents have expressed their vision, loud and clear! They want a walkable community, small-town charm, and a thriving downtown.
Just think about what Portland Main Street and our community partners have accomplished: we received a $20,000 grant for a professional market study; we received a $275,000 grant to help downtown property owners develop loft apartments; we received a $500,000 grant to extend the Rivertrail, build a pedestrian bridge linking the downtown to a beautiful band shell on the river, and reclaim an old industrial site where a beautiful riverfront condominium project is in the works; we received a $750,000 grant to loop our Rivertrail around the City and another grant to improve the recreational facilities at Bogue Flats; the DDA has reinvested thousands of dollars in grants to property owners to help them improve their building façades; and the DDA built a new City Hall, and the library has built a 10,000 square foot addition. Both these projects are in the heart of downtown Portland and show confidence in the City’s future.
In addition to all of this, and as proof of our continued progress, Portland was chosen as one of Michigan’s first “Cool Cities." As a result, Portland received a $100,000 “catalyst grant” to help build an elevated boardwalk along the river behind the businesses on the first block of Kent Street.
Because of its Main Street status, Portland and its residents, businesses, and organizations are also on the top of the list for other grants, services, loans, and tax incentives available through the State of Michigan. In fact, the City received $30,000 to allow the Portland Community Arts Council to proceed with its plans to create an arts center. When completed, this project will take a deteriorating piece of property on the banks of the Grand River and turn it into an artistic haven for the entire community and its visitors to enjoy.
The Main Street program gives downtown Portland hands-on, individualized consulting services from the Michigan Main Street Center, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the State Historic Preservation Office, the Michigan State Housing Development Authority, and a number of other resources. Architects have already drawn plans for façade improvements on six historic buildings, and three more buildings will receive these free services over the coming years.
Downtown Portland -- We're Looking Grand!