Ann Arbor’s Main Street runs straight through the heart of downtown and has been home to a constant stream of activity since the 1800s. Street signs may distinguish North and South Main Streets, but the Main Street Area Association bridges the two and unites the Ann Arbor community.
Still, many community members are unaware of what MSAA does. Founded in 2004, the MSAA is focused on supporting local Main Street businesses and improving the vitality of downtown Ann Arbor. MSAA Executive Her Officer Sandra Andrade told The Michigan Her Daily that the MSAA’s ultimate goal is to be “the best Main Street in Michigan.”
“Part of our job is to try and connect the Main Street area with local nonprofits—University of Michigan, students, faculty—just what makes the community work,” says Andrade. “We are continually trying to network downtown with community entities to become part of the community.”
Downtown Ann Arbor is divided into four neighborhoods: Main Street, State Street, Kerrytown, and South University. Not all companies on Main Street are members of his MSAA, and not all members are companies. Ann Arbor residents welcome membership to the association, as do law firms and insurance companies operating in the Main Street area.
According to Andrade, the MSAA primarily supports its members by providing networking opportunities for local businesses within the association.
“We provide opportunities for them to connect with each other,” said Andrade. “If one of our retailers wanted to do a fun Valentine’s Day[event]they could email me and I would email all our members and say, ‘Who’s interested in partnering?’ ’ and that’s how they connect.”
MSAA also provides advertising for members through various social media pages such as Facebook and Instagram. General of Cherry Republic on her street Her manager, Rita Jourdan, is MSAA’s social She spoke with The Daily about how her media presence helps promote business and special events Did.
“Advertising — Facebook, Instagram — all the social media pages have been very helpful,” says Jourdan. “When an event happens downtown, individual stores can promote it.”
Beyond the network, the MSAA also seeks to advocate for its members by filing complaints with appropriate authorities on behalf of downtown businesses facing common problems.
The MSAA is also responsible for working with members of the association, along with local governments, to close portions of Main Street and surrounding areas for the summer to provide outdoor seating options for restaurant patrons. Jordan said he believes outdoor seating benefits all businesses, not just restaurants.
“I think[closing the street for outdoor seating]has created a fun, walkable downtown social district that has been a big help for The Cherry Republic and other businesses,” Jordan said. “They were able to spread the restaurant out into the street on some nights.”
French macaron cafe Le Bon Macaron is also an MSAA participant. Owner Kelly Toland told The Daily that joining the MSAA has given her access to many valuable resources to help her business.
“(MSAA) has been a great resource and really constant support for small businesses in the region,” Toland said. “They’ve been really supportive and making sure the community knows what’s going on with every business. They’re doing a great job.”
In addition to working with businesses, the association is responsible for maintaining the flowerbeds that line Main Street and supporting the holiday lights installed each winter, or “downtown beautification,” as Andrade calls it.
The MSAA is also responsible for the downtown Ann Arbor Social District, which will launch in 2021, allowing customers to bring their own alcoholic beverages within labeled boundaries around Main Street from 10am to 11pm. can. Including Ann Arbor Restaurant Week, Art Bar Fest and more.
LSA freshman Nolan Pesci told The Daily that he appreciates the efforts the MSAA is making to make the downtown area more social and vibrant, especially during the winter months.
“The open social district is a lot of fun,” Pesci said. “At this time of winter, Main Street always looks pretty with the holiday lights.It’s great for family and friends to enjoy food and drinks on the street.”
Daily Staff reporters Mary Corey and Emma Spring can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org When email@example.com.