By Susan Carroll
Main Street Oakland County (MSOC) “Super Heroes of Main Street” Celebration was held May 11 at the Flagstar Strand Theatre for the Performing Arts in Pontiac.
Honors were given out at the Gala to six county downtowns in 11 categories. Lake Orion received honors in two of those categories.
Lake Orion Main Street winners this year were:
• Volunteer of the Year: Jordan Knudsen, owner of Knude Products in Lake Orion.
The Volunteer of the Year honor is given to the person who has invested substantial time and energy to enrich the downtown and MSOC organization.
• Game Changer: 20 Front Street, music venue, social cafe and tea room, creamery.
The Game Changer honor recognized the best and proven efforts designed to work across the “Four Points” — organization, promotion, design and economic restructuring — now and in the future.
“We make annual nominations and they are looking for excellence, they look for something above and beyond what is expected. I am very excited to have won awards again this year,” said Molly LaLone, executive director of the Lake Orion Downtown Development Authority.
More than 200 people, including many local and county officials, joined Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson at the annual event to recognize and honor communities, businesses and volunteers for their efforts to preserve and energize their downtowns.
“You don’t just get an idea, gather a few friends and set aside a weekend to work and ‘voila,’ you have a viable downtown,” Patterson said.
“Creating the kind of downtowns that attract businesses, residents and visitors while preserving a community’s heritage takes sustained effort and commitment.
“I congratulate our Main Street Oakland County communities, volunteers and businesses for their vision, energy and the incredible work they’ve done. And I’m excited to welcome Berkley and Royal Oak to the Main Street family. This is a great night,” Patterson said.
MSOC created the awards program in 2004 to recognize excellence in downtown revitalization in such areas as design, economic restructuring, organization and promotion.
The judging panel was comprised of experts in historic preservation and economic development.
Since 2001, MSOC downtowns have generated about $787 million in new public and private investment, created 7,636 jobs and established 1,103 new businesses. In 2017, public and private investment totaled more than $46 million and resulted in 258 net new jobs; 83 net new businesses; and volunteer contributions of more than 15,000 hours of volunteer time.
Oakland County is the first and still only county in the United States to operate a full-service county-wide Main Street program.
The program is available to the county’s 32 historic downtowns, heritage corridors and mixed-use urban centers.