Providing resources for communities and entrepreneurs to create and retain jobs in Antrim, Charlevoix & Cheboygan Counties.

Activate Downtown with Activities and Spaces

The Elk Rapids DDA and Downtown Merchants have been teaming up to attract people downtown with holiday activities.

Northern Lakes Economic Alliance •  •

Amanda Baker, Downtown Development Coordinator

Downtown Elk Rapids has had a busy holiday season, and it’s a direct result of activating their assets. The Elk Rapids Downtown Development Authority (DDA) teamed up with local merchants to create a holiday season marketing campaign consisting of targeted activities and marketing.

After attempts at larger events with moderate results, the DDA has hit their stride with small, targeted activities spread over more time. This model allows the smaller group of volunteers to tackle manageable programming to attract people to town, especially during slower days.

This method also falls into the goals of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation’s (MEDC) Public Spaces Community Places partnership with Patronicity to activate public spaces for more usage. The program encourages communities to engage community members with small projects that are consistently attractive—ideas like adding a giant chess board into a park, or a pocket park in a downtown alley.

Repurposing spaces and creating small activities throughout the year gets people out of their cars and into your businesses, so they’re engaged in your downtown. So, DOWNTOWNS, ACTIVATE!

If you’re interested in activating your community, reach out to Northern Lakes Economic Alliance at 231-582-6482 or

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