DETROIT-The suburbs of Ferndale, Holly and Lake Orion were recently chosen to participate in the second year of Main Street Oakland County, a Downtown revitalization program. The program is instituted by Oakland County planning and economic development services to provide assistance for Downtown revitalization and historic preservation.

As partners with the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Main Street Center, Oakland County is the first county in the nation to use the Main Street principles and to provide downtown design, promotion, organization, business recruitment and counseling services on a county-wide basis, says Bob Donohue, program coordinator.

Five communities — Farmington, Ferndale, Holly, Lake Orion and Pontiac — applied for assistance. Pontiac, one of the most suffering downtown areas in the county, was not upto joining the program, Donohue says.

“They sure need it, but they didn’t demonstrate enough commitment and readiness,” he tells

All five communities that applied for assistance through the program will receive support and mentoring, according to Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson.

The two left-out communities will be provided with individualized consulting to improve their readiness for the program application next year.

“The selected communities will also mentor the communities that were not chosen this year, providing them with a laboratory-type study of the first year process,” Donohue says. “In addition, we are providing those communities with registration to the National Main Street Center’s Annual Conference in Fort Worth next April.”

Farmington and Pontiac will also be involved in select training sessions for the Main Street program, and will also benefit from the resources of the Downtown Design Studio in Pontiac.

The studio is a cooperative venture between Oakland County Planning and Economic Development Services, the city of Pontiac and Lawrence Technological University.

Last year’s recipients, the first of the county program, are doing great, Donohue says.

Another year of assistance, making it four years, has been added on to the program for Royal Oak, Rochester and Walled Lake to make up for a slow start.

Donohue said the next step will be for the three recently awarded cities to meet with last year’s award winners as a sort of meeting of the minds.

“We’ll host the meeting in the next two-three weeks with all six downtown managers, to map out the year ahead,” he says.

Following the meeting, the county and Main Street staff in Chicago will work out a needs assessment for the three new communities, and then later arrange for the first overview classes for the city.

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