MEDC publishes COVID-19 winter strategies resource guide

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The winter strategies resource guide focuses on a number of principles of winter planning, including improving winter transportation for pedestrians, cyclists and public transit users; designing for winter safety and comfort; making winter a positive asset to attract business, tourism and new residents; snow management; and more. Courtesy Sault Ste Marie Main Street/Downtown Development Authority

A new guide that builds off the Reopen Main Street website, which offers communities COVID-19 response and recovery resources, is providing communities with ideas to give them a jumpstart on preparing for and celebrating winter safely.

With the winter months approaching, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation on Friday released a new COVID-19 winter strategies resource guide designed to help Michigan’s downtowns and business districts develop innovative solutions that address the challenges of snow and cold while enhancing opportunities for safe, outdoor winter activity.

“Michigan’s small businesses and traditional downtowns are a vital part of the state’s economy, and we remain focused on ways to support them on the path to economic recovery during this critical time,” said Michele Wildman, MEDC senior vice president of community development. “This guidebook provides creative ideas and resources for communities that will help them make the most of winter outdoor activity opportunities, making it more fun and (safer) to be outside and bolstering the community’s ability to retain and attract new businesses and residents.”

The winter strategies resource guide focuses on a number of principles of winter planning, including improving winter transportation for pedestrians, cyclists and public transit users; designing for winter safety and comfort; making winter a positive asset to attract business, tourism and new residents; snow management; and more.

The guide also provides strategies for business owners to help increase sales, including expanded curbside pickup options, virtual live shopping events, winter-themed marketing and special dining events.

A number of resources are included, as well as examples of winter activities currently taking place in communities in Michigan and elsewhere with similar cold and snowy conditions. Winter festivals and markets, snow and ice sculptures, festive lighting, skating rinks and winter patios are just a few of the innovative ways communities can encourage safe outdoor activity and celebrate winter.

“The pandemic resulted in a surge of interest in being outdoors for socializing, family recreation, biking, camping, hiking, fishing and other outdoor pursuits, and the need for people to get outdoors will be more important than ever in the winter months,” Wildman said. “Through careful planning and creative thinking, our communities can engage residents and businesses and drive economic growth throughout winter and year-round.”

Available to all communities in Michigan, the resource guide is based on the Michigan Main Street Center program, which supports local communities across Michigan as they implement the Main Street four-point approach, a community-driven, comprehensive strategy encouraging economic development through historic preservation in ways appropriate for the modern marketplace.

The Michigan Reopen Main Street website launched in May by the MEDC in partnership with Downtown Professionals Network, Arnett Muldrow and Associates and Michigan Main Street. The website contains COVID-19 response and recovery strategies for business owners and downtown or district management organizations. The site is intended to assist Main Street directors, downtown development authority managers, small business owners and local stakeholders in navigating the complexities of operating their local business districts by providing a variety of recovery resources compiled into one user-friendly website.

In total, the MEDC has launched 19 COVID-19 relief and recovery programs that have supported more than 18,500 businesses in the state and helped to retain nearly 147,000 jobs across all 83 counties.

More information is at michiganbusiness.org/covid19response.

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