Study Rates Downtown Muskegon

June 27, 2005
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MUSKEGON — A new market survey shows that Muskegon may need to look outside the city for more business.

The Downtown Professionals Network of Batavia, Ill., prepared a market study which shows that downtown Muskegon's secondary trade area of Whitehall, Twin Lakes and Fruitport is growing faster than the primary trade area of North Muskegon, Muskegon and Muskegon Heights.

Jay Schlinsog of Downtown Professionals Network said bringing in businesses to appeal to those areas could be a positive step for downtown Muskegon.

"We have opportunities to pull in additional traffic from the secondary trade area," he said.

With the average age projected to be 37.7 years old and the median household income to be $52,279 in the secondary trade area in 2009, up from $39,749 in 2004, Schlinsog said the downtown area could be marketing itself to the up-and-coming population.

Muskegon Main Street, part of a national program to help economic development, is turning to the market study to determine what changes have to take place to help the area grow.

"It's really an important step in the process of understanding the downtown area and the Muskegon Main Street district," Schlinsog said.

The study shows that although people said they come to sporting events, festivals and artistic events in the downtown area, they rated Muskegon as less impressive than other cities when it came to entertainment.

Schlinsog said the people coming into the downtown area reported they were looking for more restaurants and dining opportunities, entertainment and attractions, clothing stores and food and grocery stores.

Main Street Manager Dan Rinsema-Sybenga said he believes people are not aware of all the area has to offer.

"We need to capitalize on our existing business mix," he said.

To do that, Rinsema-Sybenga said, Main Street is working on marketing and promotions strategies.

"We need to get the word out there," he said.

Rinsema-Sybenga said there are four committees working on economic restructuring, promotion, design and organization. Main Street already has designated areas of the downtown as neighborhood, business, entertainment, retail and gateway zones to create a map of where they would like to see development.

Although the study is an important step, Schlinsog said, the process of revitalizing the downtown area is lengthy.

"It's not going to happen overnight," he said.    

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