Community Futures looking to attain funding through the My Main Street Accelerator program

Paul Nichol, Community Futures Huron General Manager (Bob Montgomery photo)

Community Futures Huron has applied for funding through the My Main Street Accelerator program.

Community Futures General Manager, Paul Nichol, explains that program provides boots on the ground staffing for a twelve month period to work with downtown businesses throughout Huron County.

Nichol points out that Huron County has ten separate and distinct downtowns and and each one has its own unique challenges.

“So for some, they had high commercial vacancy rates well before the pandemic and that hasn’t changed. For others, for example, Blyth, there’s the G2G Trail, right and Cowbell as well, so how do you, as a downtown merchant, for example, take advantage of that.”

Nichol adds, the county has a few communities going through major downtown reconstructions.

“And then, we have several communities, Seaforth and Clinton and now Bayfield, coming up next year, going through what’s essentially disruptive construction on the main street. So how do you make sure, as a merchant or a service provider, that you don’t lose your market during that time.”

And, in fact, in Bayfield’s case, the construction will be scheduled primarily during the colder seasons to minimize the disruptions during the busy summer season.

Nichol says all ten downtowns face a mix of challenges and opportunities and the Accelerator program will provide advisors that will help them recognize the difference and deal with each one. Nichol says one of the keys for the down town to succeed is they have to be aggressive.

“You have to be really aggressive too. I think my experience is that those main streets that have well organized business groups, it might be a B-I-A, a Chamber or even just an ad hoc association, those are the ones that are really able to seize opportunities.”

He adds it’s very important that the down town associations function as a team working together. He also says the Accelerator program will provide the advice and the expertise to bring all of that together. Nichol says he doesn’t know when they’ll find out if their application as been approved, but if they are successful, the program won’t get underway until next April.