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Small cities get state grants to revitalize downtowns

Grayling Main Street

A state government agency has awarded grants to some of Michigan’s smallest cities as part of an effort to revive their downtowns.

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation announced $100,000 in grant funding this month, split evenly between five municipalities.

One of the cities getting the funding is Grayling, which has a population of fewer than 2,000 people and is the only city in Crawford County.

Rae Gosling, the executive director of Grayling Main Street, a division of the regional chamber of commerce, said in a city that size, small investments can make a significant difference for people and businesses.

“If you want to have a place where people want to be -- where they want to consider it their place -- you have to have elements of design that are welcoming and interesting. Nobody wants to just sit in a dirt lot,” she said.

Gosling said Grayling is using its grant for a collection of small projects like painting crosswalks, adding outdoor seating and installing a town clock on the street.

Other small cities getting funding from the state said they will use the money for similar projects. Owosso will add flower beds and bike racks, and Three Rivers will upgrade its lighting.

The Michigan Main Street Center said these efforts to make downtowns feel safe and enjoyable means people spend more money at local businesses and are less likely to move away.

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