The Imlay City DDA

"DDA" is an acronym for "Downtown Development Authority." The purpose of a DDA is to organize and facilitate investment into a town or city's downtown area. Most downtowns feature unique and privately owned small businesses, so a DDA is often closely associated with encouraging people to shop locally to support small business and local communities.

DDA Master Plan: 2014 - 2034

Strategic Plan Overview

In step with the Downtown Development Authority Board’s adoption of the Downtown Work Program and the Main Street Approach to Downtown Revitalization the Imlay City DDA has identified the following as objectives by which to gauge the direction of the DDA from 2014-2034.

The Main Street Approach to downtown revitalization is based on four points:

Organization- means building consensus and cooperation among the groups that play roles in the downtown. Many individuals and organizations in the community have a stake in the economic viability of the downtown, including:

  • Bankers
  • Property Owners
  • Public Officials
  • Merchants
  • Downtown Residents
  • Professionals
  • Chamber of Commerce Representatives
  • Local Industry
  • Civic Groups
  • Historical Society
  • Schools
  • Consumers
  • Real Estate Agents
  • Local Media

 

Design- involves improving the downtown’s image by enhancing its physical appearance-not just the appearance of buildings, but also that of streetlights, window displays, parking areas, signs, sidewalks, promotional materials and all other elements that convey a visual message about the downtown and what it has to offer.

Promotion- involves marketing the downtown’s unique characteristics to shoppers, investors, new businesses, tourists and others. Effective promotion creates a positive image of the downtown through retail promotional activity, special events and ongoing programs to build positive perceptions of the district.

Strategic Plan Overview

In step with the Downtown Development Authority Board’s adoption of the Downtown Work Program and the Main Street Approach to Downtown Revitalization the Imlay City DDA has identified the following as objectives by which to gauge the direction of the DDA from 2014-2034.

The Main Street Approach to downtown revitalization is based on four points:

Organization- means building consensus and cooperation among the groups that play roles in the downtown. Many individuals and organizations in the community have a stake in the economic viability of the downtown, including:

  • Bankers
  • Property Owners
  • Public Officials
  • Merchants
  • Downtown Residents
  • Professionals
  • Chamber of Commerce Representatives
  • Local Industry
  • Civic Groups
  • Historical Society
  • Schools
  • Consumers
  • Real Estate Agents
  • Local Media

 

Design- involves improving the downtown’s image by enhancing its physical appearance-not just the appearance of buildings, but also that of streetlights, window displays, parking areas, signs, sidewalks, promotional materials and all other elements that convey a visual message about the downtown and what it has to offer.

Promotion- involves marketing the downtown’s unique characteristics to shoppers, investors, new businesses, tourists and others. Effective promotion creates a positive image of the downtown through retail promotional activity, special events and ongoing programs to build positive perceptions of the district.

Economic Restructuring- means strengthening the existing economic base of the downtown while diversifying it. Economic Restructuring activities include helping existing downtown businesses expand, recruiting new businesses to provide a balanced mix, converting unused space into productive property and sharpening the competitiveness of downtown merchants. By strengthening the downtown’s economy, communities are able to support the ongoing use of historic buildings, preserving unique community assets.

DDA's and TIF:

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What is a DDA?

"DDA" is an acronym for "Downtown Development Authority." The purpose of a DDA is to organize and facilitate investment into a town or city's downtown area. Most downtowns feature unique and privately owned small businesses, so a DDA is often closely associated with encouraging people to shop locally to support small business and local communities. 

Where did DDAs come from?

DDAs in Michigan largely began as a result of a law enacted in the late 1970s by the Michigan congress called PA 197. DDAs were created to counteract the decline of downtown areas after World War II that was caused by increased patronage of malls and shopping centers instead of local business. Because of this shift in shopping habits, downtown businesses often went bankrupt, buildings fell into disrepair and became chronically vacant and dilapidated. 

How does a DDA aim to counter this trend?

A DDA's main ability is to invest money and management expertise into downtown districts. Utilizing DDA resources, city planners and downtown managers rebuild public spaces, invest in business and public works projects, and help with advertising and marketing. All of this is designed to encourage people, both local and visiting, to favor a downtown district over a shopping center because of the downtown's uniqueness and specialized businesses. 

How does a DDA work?

To put it simply, a DDA comprehensively manages a downtown district to maximize its local economy. This can mean a variety of things, and what each DDA does is often dependent on the particular details of the corresponding downtown district. However, there are several categories of activity that most DDAs across the state, ours included, fall under:
 
  • Infrastructure improvements - DDAs often fund and enact projects designed to repair or improve streets, sidewalks, lighting, and sewer and water lines throughout the downtown district. Our DDA has most recently performed some revitalization along Almont Ave and 1st St. 
  • Design of public parks - Often it falls under the DDAs purview to design and construct new public gathering spaces and parks within the downtown district. If you have a public park or gathering place in your downtown, chances are high your DDA is responsible for its creation and maintenance. In Imlay City, this is most evident in the form of Rotary Park.
  • Revitalization of vacant/underused properties - Going hand-in-hand with the prior bullet point, a DDA is tasked with finding creative ways to maximize use of often limited downtown space, and it does this by always looking for new uses for old areas. If a building can be revitalized and refurbished in order to house a new downtown business, the DDA will attempt to do so, and if a building would be better as a park, well, the DDA will do that as well. 
  • Rehabilitation of historic buildings and facades - Most people agree that one of the biggest draws of a downtown district is its historic charms, and the DDA works tirelessly to preserve and maintain that historic feel by enacting programs designed to encourage business owners and property owners to bring out that charm. The Imlay City DDA grants over $13,000 in facade grants each year to help business owners ensure their business is attractive to passersby looking for that downtown charm.
  • Business recruitment and retention programs - A downtown isn't much without interesting and unique businesses to populate it, and as a result it is often one of a DDA's primary goals to attract new businesses to open in their downtown district, as well as keep existing businesses open and happy. There are a number of tools to do this, and as an example, the Imlay City DDA hosts job fairs and performs retention calls with established businesses. 
  • Marketing and promotions - Every DDA in the state, and probably the country, uses its resources to in some way promote the downtown district businesses and events. There isn't much use in revitalizing a downtown district if no one knows the district is even there, so a DDA spends a considerable amount of time marketing the businesses and events in the downtown district in all forms of media possible, from social media, newspapers, flyers, and radio/television. In addition to marketing these events, it's often the DDA's responsibility to plan and put on the events as well, and the Imlay City DDA is directly involved in several weekly and annual events in our downtown, like the Farmers' Market, the Summer Concert/Movie Series in Lamb Steele Park, Buy Local Campaigns, and others. 

How are DDAs funded?

Since the establishment of PA 197 way back in 1975, the State of Michigan has enabled DDAs to utilize Tax Increment Financing, or TIF, to acquire the funds needed to reinvest in downtown districts and finance all the projects detailed above.

What is TIF?

Tax Increment Financing, or TIF, is the annual capture of the year-to-year growth in property values in a defined downtown district. The power of TIF is that it allows municipalities to direct funds to engage in specific, critical economic development activities without needing to raise local property taxes. So, in essence, as a DDA works to improve the downtown district, property values will rise as a result of that hard work, and as the property values rise, the amount captured via TIF will also increase, providing the DDA with more funds to use to aid the downtown district. DDAs that use TIF are self-sustaining, because as a DDA invests in its district, property values increase, and as they do, the DDA captures more funding and is able to do more projects. 
 
Do you still have questions that weren't answered here? Feel free to contact your Imlay City DDA for more information. We're happy to answer any questions you might have.

DDA Projects

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An example of a DDA project:
The DDA completed a major construction project in the fall of 2013.  Above are the Before and After pictures showing a major improvement to the crumbling infrastructure.  The DDA applied for a CDBG DIG Grant to partially fund the reconstruction of the Lamb Steele Parking Lot as well as replace the water and sewer mains that run along the alley that connect Third and Fourth Streets.  The project was funded collaboratively as follows:

Michigan Strategic Fund contributed $479,500 in grant funds
Imlay City DDA contributed over $120,000 toward the project costs
City of Imlay City contributed $99,500
Imlay City Area Chamber of Commerce contributed $1,000