CHARLOTTE, Mich. — There were 14 vacant buildings in downtown Charlotte five years ago. Today, new businesses are waiting lining up for space.
"We had a vision for downtown that was based in having really great eateries and also having amazing art venues and art features in our downtown, which is things that people were craving," said Lisa Barna, the executive director of Charlotte Rising, a non-profit that works to help support the downtown's growth and development. "And so, as we continued to develop that and encourage that type of development to come in here, people have just been so attracted to what we've been doing in downtown."
Mayor Michael Armitage chalked up at least some of the growth to the city's "great location between Lansing and other areas that people commute to such as Battle Creek and Marshall and even Jackson,"
"Just in general, I think there's been a demand for more business in the community," he said.
Alyssa Devoll, a Charlotte resident, said having more businesses gives the community more places to go.
"I think it's awesome how we can come together as a community and just put all that effort into our town. It's unbelievable," Devoll said.
With eight entrepreneurs on a waitlist for a building, Charlotte Rising is now looking to help. Come July 1, the non-profit will start offering what it calls occupancy grants, $5,000 grants that will help property owners pay to subdivide their spaces.
"Split their space from front to back. They can move to a second floor. They can split it longways. However, they can make more space for another business to come in. We're going to try and support that," Barna said.
Barna said the hope is to have new businesses in by the summer.
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