Cheboygan DDA

Our History

The Cheboygan Downtown Development Authority is a twelve member board composed of business owners, managers and Downtown Cheboygan residents.

Formed in 1986, the DDA’s main purpose is to improve the functional quality as well as the aesthetics of Cheboygan’s Downtown while preserving its character.

The DDA is funded through the capture of Cheboygan tax dollars otherwise designated to the County of Cheboygan, the Cheboygan Public Library, and the City of Cheboygan.

The Cheboygan DDA Board of Directors consists of the Mayor and 11 board members.

Board of Directors

  • Emily Eckhart, Chairperson, Nourish
  • Brian Lange, Vice-Chairperson, The Nauti Inn Barstro, MichMash
  • David Bishop, Bishop Automotive Group
  • John Costin, Simply Marcella, The Queens Head
  • Bobie Crongeyer, Judicial Management Systems, Inc.
  • Vincent Hillesheim, Anchor In Marina
  • Dennis Lindeman, Linde Furniture
  • Christy Stempky, Nourish
  • Ex-Officio Members:
  • Mayor Mark C. Bronson
  • Councilman Brett A. Mallory
  • Scott Herceg, Cheboygan Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director

Cheboygan Main Street

The City of Cheboygan was awarded Michigan Main Street Select Level status in 2019!  As part of the Select Level, Cheboygan will receive five years of intensive technical assistance from MEDC with a focus on revitalization strategies designed to attract new residents, business investments, economic growth and job creation to the central business districts.

The Michigan Main Street Program aims to create communities distinguished by a “sense of place.” The rationale is based on a range of studies that show investing in creating a “sense of place” is an integral part of developing vibrant city centers and downtowns, thereby making the state economically stronger and culturally diverse.

There are currently 31 communities participating in the Michigan Main Street at engaged, select and master levels. Each level provides services based on a community’s commitment, from one to five years in the program.

“Developing downtowns is essential in building a tax base, raising property values and putting people to work,” said MEDC CEO Jeff Mason. “Programs like Michigan Main Street provide downtown communities with the tools needed to create jobs, provide desirable places to live and build a sense of place for Michigan residents.”

Over the past year, Michigan Main Street communities generated more than $28 million in private investment, 116 new businesses and 92 façade improvements. Since its inception in 2003, the Michigan Main Street has been a catalyst for job growth, private investment and community engagement. From 2003 through 2018, 1,299 new businesses have been launched, with a total public investment of nearly $90 million and total private investment of $286 million. In addition, more than 56,566 volunteer hours were recorded in the task of revitalizing downtowns across the state.


Past DDA projects include renovation and parking improvements throughout the downtown area and providing property improvement incentives. At times the DDA has purchased properties within the district to insure a viable thriving business community and will consider continuing to do so as the need arises. Project highlights:


Main Street CheboyganA new downtown streetscape was completed which included the burying of electrical cables and the addition of new decorative lamp posts. The planting of trees was also an addition within the streetscape.  In 2009, a Main Street reconstruction project was completed including new curb, gutters and sidewalk, storm sewer and water main system replacements and upgrades, and upgraded traffic signals.

Downtown Enhancement Plan

A grant was received from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA), and the Michigan Municipal League (MML) to participate in the Blueprints for Michigan Downtowns program in 2003. The funding, along with a matching dollar amount of $15,000 from the DDA, permitted HyettPalma, a national downtown consulting firm, to formulate a downtown economic development action plan.

The plan, otherwise known as the Cheboygan Downtown Blueprint, was designed to further strengthen Downtown Cheboygan and guide its future development. Under the plan, a series of high profile, high impact projects were recommended to be implemented as quickly as possible to create community support for Downtown’s further economic and physical enhancement. The plan also indicated specific enhancements directed toward: public and building improvements, business development, housing, and management.

Downtown awarded $667,000!

Pedestrian Bridge over Cheboygan RiverThe Cheboygan DDA was one of seven recipients of the Vibrant Small Cities Initiative, Governor Granholm’s effort to create vibrant communities across the state. “Creating vibrant communities attractive to businesses, residents and visitors is an essential part of our plan to transform Michigan’s economy,” Gov. Granholm said. “This initiative is making downtowns in our small communities great places for individuals and families to live, earn and learn.”

The DDA used $500,250 of the grant money toward the construction of a pedestrian bridge across the Cheboygan River, connecting Major City Park and Washington Park.  The DDA utilized the remaining funds to conduct a marketing study and the purchase of wayfinding signage.

Improvements to Washington Park

Washington Park received a facelift thanks to a grant from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) and matching funds from the Cheboygan DDA to provide a grand entranceway to Washington Park, guiding pedestrians to the footbridge. Other elements of the renovations included an additional path of sidewalks installed at the center of Washington Park by the entrance structure to lead pedestrians to the footbridge, picnic tables, grills, benches, lighting, and a three-sided kiosk informational kiosk.  Inside the entrance structure are two panels of historical pictures that feature Cheboygan from years ago.  Two interchangeable message boards are displayed on the outside of the structure so passersby can be informed of local events.

Festival Square

Festival Square PavilionThe City of Cheboygan received a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) to demolish the former Woolworth building, a building that was vacant for more than 10 years in the heart of downtown, and construct an outdoor events pavilion on the site. “Festival Square” is an attractive, year-round facility in the downtown district to hold outdoor activities, including a farmer’s market, outdoor performances, concerts, festivals and much more. The potential for this newly created event space is limitless. The first phase was completed in September 2012.  The grand opening celebration featured over 2,000 community members in attendance.  This will be the new home of the Downtown Music Festival beginning in 2013.

Ottawa Art Park

Ottawa Art ParkThe DDA has partnered with the Cheboygan Area Arts Council in funding the Ottawa Art Park – a hands on community art park. The park was once home to the Ottawa Hotel, which was deeded to the DDA. Attempts were made to sell the property, but to no avail. A beautification volunteer group “dressed” the lot by the planting of day lilies; however, the vacant lot remained empty.

In 2005, the Cheboygan Area Arts Council received a grant to fund an arts park on the property. This grant, along with the DDA’s commitment of providing the funding for the landscaping, has breathed new life into the vacant space within Downtown Cheboygan.

Downtown Events

Downtown Music FestivalThe Downtown Cheboygan Blueprint revealed that an aggressive marketing campaign for Downtown Cheboygan be implemented. Through the Downtown Enhancement department, it was determined that the best way to educate residents and visitors alike about Downtown Cheboygan was to host a major event. To give Downtown Cheboygan the biggest “bang”, the DDA funds the Downtown Cheboygan Music Festival & Rockin’ Rivertown Ride during Cheboygan’s peak summer season.

The Downtown Music Festival echoes throughout all of Downtown! This two-day event brings diverse bands to Downtown Cheboygan from across the country.  Over 2,000 attend this FREE two-day festival.  The Rockin’ Rivertown Ride is held the Saturday of Music Fest weekend and features a poker run, bike parade and bike show.  The Downtown Music Fest & Rockin’ Rivertown Ride is held the last weekend in July.

Other events promoting Downtown Cheboygan include: Sidewalk Sales in August, Trick-or-Treating in Downtown Cheboygan in October, Girls Night Out in May and November, Hospitality Night and Men’s Night in December,

Building Facade Improvement Grant Program

Downtown EnhancementA grant program is offered by the DDA for reimbursement of costs associated with design of building front and rear facade improvements in the City of Cheboygan’s downtown area as recommended and described in the Blueprint. The DDA allocates $4,000 each budget year (July 1—June 30) toward this grant program and money will be allocated on a first-come, first-serve basis. The DDA will reimburse up to $1,000 toward costs associated with design relative to building front improvement approved in conjunction with guidelines, which have been adopted by the DDA. A building owner may apply to the DDA under the Building Facade Rehabilitation Program.

The Historic Resources Commission will act as a review and recommending body and also offer technical assistance to the applicant. The DDA shall review the plans of the applicant and recommendation of the Historic Resources Commission before considering approval or disapproval of an application under the DDA Building Façade Rehabilitation Program.

CooCool City Neighborhoodl City Blueprint Community

Cheboygan is one of 32 Michigan Cool City communities! The “cool” designation gives Cheboygan access to additional marketing tools to promote revitalization efforts throughout downtown. Cheboygan received signs depicting the Cool City Neighborhood logo to display throughout the city in early 2006.