Birmingham joins Main Street Oakland County

The City of Birmingham is the first downtown to join Main Street Oakland County (MSOC) as an associate level member. Deputy County Executive Matthew Gibb, on behalf of Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson, and Birmingham Mayor George Dilgard made the announcement during a news conference at the Palladium 12 on Tuesday.

"Birmingham is among Oakland County's premiere 32 downtowns," Patterson said in a statement. "It is a great destination with excellent restaurants, shopping and entertainment."

MSOC is Oakland County's unique economic development program with a historic preservation philosophy and an emphasis on "sense of place." It helps local governments develop their downtowns as vibrant, successful districts that serve as the heart of their communities.

"Downtown Birmingham has a fantastic mix of high quality restaurants, unique retail establishments, and a variety of urban living choices," Dilgard said. "By joining Main Street Oakland County, we intend to take the Birmingham experience to the next level."

The Associate Level Program, formerly known as the Mentoring Program, allows downtown communities and their management organizations such as the Birmingham Principal Shopping District to work with the MSOC program to develop a complete understanding of what is required as a member and what services are provided. When Birmingham applies for full status as a "Selected" MSOC Downtown, it will be eligible for additional services.

MSOC services include helping to develop strategic plans; marketing and promotion; grant application assistance; small business retention, expansion and recruitment; and historic preservation and architectural expertise; among many others.

"Downtown Birmingham's growth during challenging times is quite a success story," said John Heiney, executive director of the Birmingham Principal Shopping District. "Main Street Oakland County will provide services that help sustain our success."

In 2000, Patterson took steps toward preserving and enhancing the county's 32 downtown areas by launching MSOC. The county entered into a contract with the National Main Street Center of Washington, D.C. to provide training and counseling for downtown revitalization projects. Oakland County has the only countywide program in the nation.

Coordinated through Oakland County's Planning & Economic Development Services, MSOC balances historic preservation with economic growth and state-of-the-art urban planning design. Since the program's inception, more than $600 million has been invested in Oakland County downtowns creating 7,000 jobs and more than 700 businesses. MSOC has 12 "selected" full-service communities which include Clawson, Farmington, Ferndale, Franklin, Highland, Holly, Lake Orion, Ortonville, Oxford, Pontiac, Rochester, and Walled Lake. The three communities that were in the former mentoring program but are now in the newly-designated associate level program with Birmingham include Clarkston, Leonard and Waterford.

For additional information about Main Street Oakland County, go to and click on the Main Street Oakland County button. To learn more about downtown Birmingham, go to

Published: Thu, Jan 24, 2013