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Community Development

A Healthy Community Begins With a Healthy Downtown

Photo: Courtesy of Mike Petrucci

Whether you call it downtown, the village square or Main Street, there is one place in every city or town where neighbors come to eat, shop and be together. Downtowns are the heartbeat of our communities, and they are also key indicators of larger social and economic trends. A thriving downtown means successful businesses, engaged citizens, cultural events and jobs. In contrast, when city centers are neglected, it often leads to shuttered businesses and lost opportunities. 

OneMain Financial has been an integral part of the communities we serve throughout our history of more than 100 years. We understand that people thrive when communities thrive, and we celebrate the role that downtowns play in the cycle. Bringing life back to neglected downtowns is vital for the overall well-being of cities and towns, as well as for their residents. This is why we are thrilled to have partnered with the national non-profit Main Street America for our “Made on Main Street” initiative.

“Made on Main Street” provides community action grants for innovative community transformation projects across the country. We’ve awarded seven $25,000 grants to cities in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Ohio, Oregon and Washington. Funded projects include public art displays, pocket parks and community gardens.   

Our philosophy is pretty simple: When you find yourself in a downtown that looks inviting and clean — and that has public art — you are more likely to eat, shop, grab a coffee, snap a selfie and come back in the future. People are also more likely to make better decisions (like using trash cans instead of littering) when it’s clear that the community cares. Investing in downtown areas is critical to rejuvenating our communities and stimulating virtuous economic cycles, and we’re proud to be taking on such a positive and impactful project. 

In an effort to celebrate these beautification projects and bring community members together, we sponsor free family-friendly events in each city, featuring complimentary food, music, games, crafts and local artisans selling their goods. Basically, we throw a party to applaud the unique projects each community has undertaken — and the people that brought them to life. It’s a privilege to help people celebrate their downtowns and embrace what makes their hometowns great places to live.

Kim Wijkstrom, Senior Vice President, OneMain Financial, [email protected]

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