By Jessica Mathews /

2020 was a difficult year for downtowns but despite that after meeting rigorous performance standards, Howell Main Street Inc. has again been designated as an accredited Main Street™ program.

Howell’s performance is annually evaluated by Michigan Main Street, which works in partnership with Main Street America to identify the local programs that meet 10 national performance standards.

Main Street America President & CEO Patrice Frey said during an incredibly challenging year, these programs demonstrated the power of the Main Street movement to drive impressive local recovery efforts, champion small businesses, and foster vibrant downtown districts. Frey said she’s inspired by their hard work and confident the accredited communities will continue to help their downtowns flourish in the next stages of recovery.

Howell Main Street Chief Operating Officer Kate Litwin said as a Master Level Main Street Community, their organization is at the heart of a movement to develop downtown Howell as an entrepreneurial, innovative, and environmentally sustainable community that exists for everyone.

Litwin also serves as DDA Director and the Downtown Development Authority Board met virtually Wednesday evening. She commented that the accreditation means they’re certified for another year for accomplishing all of the goals set forth by the program. Litwin said it’s a great accomplishment and it’s been a rough year but being able to get the accreditation put another star in their cap and they’re starting their 16th year as a Main Street community. She said unfortunately, they celebrated 15 years during the pandemic and managed to have one little party before everything changed in 2020 but now they’re onto year 16 and that’s exciting.

Litwin added that while everything hasn’t always been very visual, they’ve done a lot over the past year. Howell Main Street was able to award Mortgage and Rental Assistance grants of more than $20,000 to help entrepreneurs weather the pandemic, provided technical assistance to business owners, helped procure PPE, awarded more than $10,000 in façade incentive grants, and continued modified events and programming to bring residents and guests downtown in a safe and socially distanced manner.

More information is included in the attached press release.