Wayland to use state grant to ‘Hype’ downtown

WAYLAND, Mich. (WOOD) — Nine Michigan communities, including the city of Wayland, are splitting $200,000 in state grants to help revitalize their downtown districts.

Wayland’s share, $25,000, will be put toward three areas, according to city downtown development authority executive director, Holli McPherson.

The first is a concept not new to social media but is for local governments and their downtown development authorities:

“It’s creating influencers in our city using their social media and promoting them to go out and do ‘date night,’ ‘cocktail night,’ ‘daddy-daughter days,’ things like that,” McPherson explained.

Called the ‘Hype’ program, the concept originally from Georgia can be considered modern marketing. Wayland is the second Michigan city to utilize it, following Owosso in Shiawassee County.

“It creates loyalty with our residents,” McPherson said. “It takes a burden of us not doing social media off and allows the creativity of other people to step in and help.”

With or without the grant, McPherson says the city was moving forward with its hype program, which already has seven influencers volunteering.

“We’re now creating the need rather than waiting for people,” she explained. “The biggest thing that I’m exciting about is we’re taking taxpayer money and putting it back into the community, rather than sitting around and not really doing much with it. So we’re going to give it back to the taxpayers in the form of sales.”

Meanwhile, the second use for the state grant money is a 10-year-old welcome sign just east of US-131 that, McPherson said, has seen better days.

“This is a large price because it’s going to be electronic, larger and we just got (new) branding redone last year,” she said. “We’re trying to replace (all the old branding), so this will help that.”

The third is a speaker system installed on power poles throughout the downtown corridor.

“We’ll be able to do holiday music, announcements. We can sell commercials for local businesses during festivals and just have nice music during certain times,” McPherson explained.

While the Hype program is already under way, the speaker system and new welcome sign are expected to be installed by the end of July, according to McPherson.

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