Create a Vision.

Start with an open community meeting. Go out of your way to ensure there will be a large and diverse cross section of the community. Go door-to-door and recruit people to come. Use fliers, social media, hit the coffee klatch scene and spread the word. Putting “Light refreshments” on the flier always helps.

Residents, business owners, property owners, and schools all have a stake in having a successful community. Reach out to them. It turns out you can’t just have a meeting and expect people to come out. You have to work at it. If it’s a larger community, have more than one.

Ask “What do we want to be in 10–15 years?” Be as specific as possible. Allowing the community to participate in this visioning process creates valuable buy-in from the very people a community will need in order to be successful at implementing the vision.

The Grand Vision is an ambitious, citizen-led vision for the future of land use, transportation, economic development and environmental stewardship across six counties in northwest lower Michigan.

More than 15,000 citizens got involved and voiced their opinions about this vision. Twelve thousand citizens voted for what they wanted for the future for their communities. Of those voters, nearly 75% asked that growth occur in existing developed areas.

Over three years a series of public workshops, unparalleled collaboration between government, nonprofits and the private sector, shaped The Grand Vision. The “vision” is now being implemented, as six counties, six issue-area networks and a CORE team all work to incorporate The Grand Vision principles into plans, developments, investments, and practices.

The Grand Vision originated when a proposed bridge/bypass around downtown Traverse City was approved and funded. Following a public debate about the proposal, the Hartman-Hammond Bridge concept was tabled, with those funds re-appropriated by U.S. Congress to be used for a long-term planning process. Several public and private organizations stepped forward to fund and lead the process – one that eventually expanded to include the six counties The Grand Vision currently serves: Antrim, Benzie, Grand Traverse, Kalkaska, Leelanau and Wexford.

Today The Grand Vision is being realized across the region. Governmental bodies are collaborating, business leaders are seeing the benefits of a focused vision for the future, community members are reaping the rewards, projects are completed and others under way, and several diverse interests are coming together within issue networks that include Food & Farming, Energy, Growth & Investment, Housing, Natural Resources and Transportation. – Via

Example of Vision Statement

In 2025, Downtown Howell is a leader for Michigan in the traditional, pedestrian-oriented downtown shopping, dining, and entertainment experience. A visit to our historic commercial district will be one that fills the senses, where all storefronts are occupied with vibrant and interesting businesses and with compelling products and services displayed behind transparent, historic facades.

Howell’s community heritage is evident in limestone, brick, and wood of the carefully preserved historic storefronts. The active foot traffic brings life to the well-maintained streetscape, inviting people to be a part of the activity. Public art lends a cultural atmosphere and invites visitors to linger and explore. It’s easy to spend time outside in Downtown Howell as children play, adults relax and all enjoy the hometown feel. Howell is a transportation hub for commuter rail between Lansing and Ann Arbor, is a popular stop for commuters and destination for day-visitors.

Pedestrians feel relaxed in Downtown Howell thanks to traffic calming measures that create a walkable environment. Parking facilities are attractive, functional and adequately serve all downtown uses. Attractive signage brings attention to important venues, institutions, and the National Register Historic District. Alleyways are unique passageways within the district, creating interesting and unique places to discover. Careful attention to the design and quality of all physical improvements has resulted in a beautiful built environment. A team of Main Street volunteers, who are experts in historic preservation, architecture, construction, and design, is available to assist building owners with making good decisions about proposed work to historic buildings.

Downtown Howell is known for quality special events, from large-scale festivals to smaller cultural and family occasions. A diverse cross-section of demographic groups enjoy these activities, and families find something for everyone at Downtown Howell events. There is almost always something happening downtown, from weekly promotions to annual events. These festivals acknowledge Howell’s heritage, as well as seasonal events and celebrations of local and regional crafters. The Howell Melon Festival is the premier community event and major fundraiser for Howell Main Street.

The Downtown Howell storefronts are full of vibrant, thriving and entertaining businesses and institutions with an appropriate balance of independent retail and service businesses and brand-name corporate-owned stores. The majority of second and third floors above stores are occupied by residential and other uses, so Howell is a community in natural balance.

There is a vibrant arts and cultural community downtown centered on the restored Opera House. An increasing proportion of local residents, as well as residents of neighboring communities, visit Howell for unique shopping and fine dining. The success of Downtown Howell is driven by a healthy and energetic Main Street Program. The Nationally accredited Howell Main Street program enjoys broad, enthusiastic community support. The program regularly engages the community and maintains healthy volunteer commitment on the board, committees and events.

Volunteers actively seek Main Street educational opportunities and pass their knowledge on to the community. The culmination of this vision for Howell is the creation of a traditional, pedestrian-oriented mixed-use district that has evolved into the heart of transportation, culture, business, and entertainment for the region. Via