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Downtown Mason Michigan is Hub for Business, Boutiques and Restaurant
By Marco A. Broggio
What is a destination? A destination is a place that is unique, and has a charm that cannot be duplicated. A destination is where you go for new experiences, and to get away from it all. Sometimes, destinations are halfway across the world. Other times, they are right in your hometown.
Downtown Mason is a destination. It is the hub for business conducted by the county, and is also home to an array of boutique shops and restaurants. By day, downtown is bustling with business people on the way to their next appointment while music entertains patrons enjoying a coffee. By night, the county courthouse stands tall, romantically illuminating sidewalks and open store fronts. Whether you’re in town for business, or simply visiting the antiques district, one thing is certain: this destination—downtown Mason—cannot be duplicated.
On May 14, 2009, the Mason Downtown Development Authority (DDA) adopted a Marketing Analysis, conducted by McKenna Associates, Inc. The focus of the study was to identify the most appropriate business types for downtown. The study also provided strategies for attracting new business and retaining existing business. One of the main things the study discovered was that Mason has a tremendous potential to become a regional destination. Because of these findings, the Mason DDA took a creative approach to becoming a regional destination, and organized a community event.
On August 28, 2010, the DDA hosted the first annual Mason Sun Dried Music Festival. The community event showcased a variety of musical performances ranging from rock, jazz, blues, salsa, and country. The Sun Dried Music Festival attracted nearly 8,000 people from within the region. People from as far as Grand Rapids and Howell came to Mason for the first time. Businesses and members of the community sat together on the courthouse lawn and enjoyed the sights and sounds, while the smell of barbeque guaranteed that they wouldn’t leave on an empty stomach. There wasn’t a frown in the crowd.
The Sun Dried Music Festival supported the DDA’s development plan and attracted thousands of people. It also embodied the recommendation made by McKenna Associates. Most businesses in the district were very busy that day, but the residual effect or “buzz” that the event created was the goal. Locals and first-time visitors realized that this city is “pretty cool,” whether to live in, or just to visit.
Your hometown may not be a regional destination, but by using your Development Plan as a road map, and updating it when necessary, you can guarantee that your captured tax dollars will be well spent. The Sun Dried Music Festival is simply an example of how a dedicated DDA board used statistically validated information to promote the district as a regional destination.
Downtown Mason is unique, and is only minutes from Lansing. It’s the type of place that is rooted in the past and growing towards the future, but most importantly, it is mid-Michigan’s regional destination for boutique shops and restaurants. So, the next time you’re planning a day trip (or a place to live), live in the moment, and consider Mason as your destination.
Marco A. Broggio is the director of the Mason Downtown Development Association. You may reach him at
586-676-9155 x 299 or firstname.lastname@example.org.