July 13, 2024 Donate

Chelsea, Chelsea Government

City of Saline Renews Contract with Saline Main Street for a Reduced Amount

A crowd sits outside the now shuttered McPherson Local during Salty Summer Sounds. Photo courtesy of Saline Main Street.

At its April 15 meeting the Saline City Council approved the renewal of a service contract with Saline Main Street (SMS) to provide downtown economic development services for the 2025 fiscal year. According to its website, SMS is a “community-driven nonprofit dedicated to guiding our downtown toward its most vibrant future,” and they are responsible for organizing some of Saline’s favorite events.

SMS Executive Director Mary Dettling provided an overview of the organization’s upcoming plans which are funded, in part, by the contract with the city. Her slides explained that the city’s original contract for 2021/2022 specified a contribution of $56,000 per year for three years but before that three-year deal expired, the city decided to reduce the amount by more than $20,000. The contract renewal for FY2025 is $35,000.

“The intention that was stated at that time was to work back towards the $56,000, increasing the city’s contribution incrementally. We understand that that’s not going to happen this year. While we are grateful for the contribution because it allows us to exist, we are concerned about the optics for the city and how the community might perceive support for downtown.”

Despite the city’s reduced contribution, the organization still plans to offer a full calendar of events by relying on increased fundraising and its own reserves. One of the new fundraising events is a golf tournament, scheduled for July 26th at Lake Forest Golf Course. Other events include Salty Summer Sounds, Ladies’ Night Out, Oktoberfest, and Downtown Trunk or Treat.

“What also is new,” said Dettling, “is that during our Salty Summer Sounds, we’re hoping to have a social district where attendees can purchase a ready-made drink and a specially marked cup from one of the four dining establishments that are adjacent to the to the social district on South Ann Arbor street.”

Besides producing events, SMS also provides grants, training, and other development services for downtown small business owners. In 2024 and 2025, SMS is participating in the Ready 2 Recruit Business Recruitment Primer and was one of only three cities in Michigan chosen for the program. According to its website, the Ready 2 Recruit program uses “local research, customized tools, and proven practices to gauge demand and to profile and attract top prospects” for new businesses.

Dettling concluded with, “I want to thank my board and all of the volunteers who contribute their time. The City of Saline, I think, is very lucky to have Saline Main Street for less than the cost of a part time employee. The city is getting an entire organization of people who are passionate about the heart of our city and make amazing things happen downtown…and they all do it in their spare time. So if you have a chance to thank one of our volunteers, I strongly encourage you to do so.”

Following the presentation Mayor Marl thanked Dettling, the board, and her volunteers and suggested there may be an opportunity to discuss additional funds later in the year. “It’s very likely that later this year we’ll be considering how we can spend some of our additional financial resources if we have them. I would certainly be willing to consider specific programs and initiatives that build upon economic success and attract new enterprises to Saline. If it’s specific, tangible, and we can see that it would produce a result which would be beneficial to our downtown, I would be very much amenable to exploring that further with you.”