Open a lemonade stand in your downtown

Showcase your downtown’s finest vacant buildings by turning lemons into lemonade.

It is not every day a downtown would be excited to promote how many vacant store fronts are in their district, but this opportunity will bring new life and hopefully new tenants to your downtown. Welcome new businesses into your downtown with an open house style tour showing off the availabilities throughout the district. This is a creative way to embrace these openings as opportunities to help welcome more year-round businesses.

Begin by identifying your potential open house storefronts. Work with downtown businesses, building owners and the community to choose the sites and get a feel for what people would like to see in the locations.

Each open storefront should have a real estate agent, leasing agent, or community leader at the door that is ready to answer any questions about the property, the community and doing business in the downtown. This design is to make sure that potential businesses could tour several properties during the day without having to track down the individual property contacts. It is essentially one-stop shopping for those that are interested in doing business in your downtown. Businesses that are headquartered hours away would have the chance to learn more about the community and gauge whether or not it is a good fit for them.

“Instead of showing off a few lemons, your community can open a lemonade stand,” said Andy Hayes, President of Northern Lakes Economic Alliance, partner of Michigan State University Extension. Partner with your local Main Street group or Downtown Development Authority. These people already have their boots on the ground and know the ins and outs of the downtown. Tap into your community “E-Team” as another great resource. “This kind of thinking can show off how innovative and welcoming a community is,” said Hayes.

MSU Extension has had a unique relationship with the regional economic development organization Northern Lakes Economic Alliance (NLEA) for more than 20 years. Recognizing the strength of combining resources, this partnership focuses on economic development, entrepreneurship growth and community infrastructure throughout a four-county region in the northwest Lower Peninsula, specifically Antrim, Charlevoix, Cheboygan and Emmet counties. As a result, the NLEA utilizes resources offered through MSU Extension as it provides leadership to state-wide programs sponsored by MSU Extension.” 

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