A coalition of statewide groups is issuing a “ShopMIDowntown Holiday Challenge” to all Michigan residents.

The “ShopMIDowntown Holiday Challenge” asks individuals and organizations to do at least 75 percent of their shopping this holiday season in downtowns and Michigan Main Street Districts, then go online and share their favorite downtown Michigan holiday shopping experience this year.

The reward? Becoming eligible for a random drawing that offers five weekend getaway packages at Michigan hotels.

The coalition includes the Michigan Main Street Center at the Michigan State Housing Development Authority, the Small Business Association of Michigan, the Michigan Downtown Association, the Michigan Municipal League, the Community Economic Development Association of Michigan, The National Trust’s Main Street Center, Main Street Oakland County, Local First and Buy Michigan Now!

“The ‘ShopMIDowntown Holiday Challenge’ is a way to show how easy it is to purchase all of the gifts you’ll need this holiday at downtown stores, and demonstrate how much fun buying local can be,” said Laura Krizov, manager of the Michigan Main Street Center at MSHDA.

A 2008 study conducted for Think Local First in Grand Rapids by Civic Economics reported that $73 out of every $100 spent locally stayed within the community, as opposed to $43 of every $100 spent in a business that was not locally owned.

“When you buy from the small businesses in Michigan’s downtowns and Michigan Main Street districts, it creates jobs and keeps our friends and neighbors in business,” said SBAM president and CEO Rob Fowler. “That’s why we are honored to be a part of making this challenge happen.”

The study also found that if consumers spent just 10 percent more in locally owned businesses, the economic impact could reach $140 million and result in up to 1,600 new jobs in the Grand Rapids market alone. See www.localfirst.com/why_local_first/.

Michigan residents also are being asked to share their stories, photos and videos of their 2010 downtown holiday shopping trips with the public through the campaign’s Facebook page, Facebook.com/ShopMIDowntown.

People who post pictures or video of their experience will be automatically entered into a random drawing to win an overnight stay at one of the following establishments: The Ramsdell Inn (http://www.ramsdellinn.net/) in downtown Manistee; The Doherty Hotel (http://www.dohertyhotel.com/) in downtown Clare; The National House Inn (http://www.nationalhouseinn.com/) in downtown Marshall; The Water Street Inn (http://www.boynewaterstreetinn.com/) in downtown Boyne City; and the Courtland Carriage House Bed & Breakfast in downtown Hart.
Manistee, Clare, Marshall, Boyne City and Hart are recognized Michigan Main Street districts.

“We all know that shopping Michigan’s downtowns during the holidays is a magical tradition that’s been enjoyed by families and friends for generations,” Krizov said. “We want Michigan residents to tell the world this holiday season what makes their experience so memorable, whether it’s outstanding customer service by a merchant, a great bargain they find at a local store or an unforgettable meal they had at a downtown restaurant.”

The “ShopMIDowntown Holiday Challenge” kicks off on Nov. 8 and lasts throughout the holiday season, ending on Dec. 31. The contest was inspired by a campaign in Sparta — a “Christmas in Sparta” campaign, www.christmasinsparta.com, which features a video blog highlighting the various purchases being made downtown and has helped spur sales at downtown businesses. The coalition promoting the “ShopMIDowntown Holiday Challenge” hopes to duplicate Sparta’s successful marketing effort in downtowns across the state.

Individuals interested in more information about the “ShopMIDowntown Holiday Challenge” can contact Laura Krizov, manager of the Michigan Main Street Center at (517) 241-4237 (krizovl@michigan.gov), or Joe Borgstrom, director of the STARS division at MSHDA, at (517) 241-2512 (borgstromj@michigan.gov).

For more information on the Michigan Main Street program and official contest rules, go to http://www.michiganmainstreetcenter.com/ShopMIDowntown.aspx and for a listing of members of the Michigan Downtown Association, go to http://www.michigandowntowns.com.

(c) 2010, WWJ Newsradio 950. All rights reserved.


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