An abandoned lumber yard in downtown Tecumseh, Michigan transformed into a revitalizing farmers market and community event space, thanks to funding from Public Spaces Community Places.
Prior to becoming the permanent home for Tecumseh’s Farmers Market and a vibrant community gathering space, the Market on Evans was a former lumber yard that sat vacant for decades on the edge of downtown Tecumseh.
While the city lacked funding to fully renovate the property, a successful 2016 campaign with the Public Spaces Community Places (PSCP) program led to $20,000 of funding from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC); the MEDC funding assisted in leveraging over $261,000 in private investment for the Market on Evans project.
PSCP is a collaborative effort of the MEDC, the Michigan Municipal League and Patronicity where residents can use crowdfunding to be part of the development of strategic projects in their communities and be backed with a matching grant from MEDC.
The PSCP campaign helped to leverage excitement for the project from community participants who supported the project with their donations. The MEDC match was integral in getting the renovations underway.
The downtown’s Evans Street Corridor runs through the center of Tecumseh’s downtown and is both the northern and southern entrance to the city. Upgrading the corridor and creating a unified, more aesthetically pleasing entrance into the downtown area had long been a community goal.
A committee involving the City of Tecumseh, the Downtown Development Authority (DDA) and several stakeholders was created to brainstorm ways to work together on improving the area.
After the farmers market moved around to several locations over the preceding years, the Market on Evans became its official home, growing to over 35 vendors on Saturdays throughout the spring and summer.
The diversity of offerings has also increased to include various produce vendors, local farmers selling items from locally raised meat to honey and syrup, various craft artisans, food trucks and more.
The success of the Market on Evans has helped revitalize the downtown by increasing sales for each small business, leading to the creation of nearly 60 jobs over the past three years.
With an average of over 700 shoppers visiting the farmers market each week, the Market on Evans has had a positive impact on community residents and increased sales for shop owners and merchants in downtown Tecumseh.
The Market on Evans has also become a business incubator program, with five businesses now having established physical storefronts thanks to positive community response at the farmers market. Those storefronts have been located both in Tecumseh and the neighboring city of Adrian, creating a true regional impact.
Tecumseh Bread & Pastry, one of the businesses that incubated at the Market on Evans farmers market, will receive support from the City of Tecumseh to expand to a larger storefront on M-50 thanks to a recently awarded Match on Main grant as an RRC-certified community.
Beyond hosting the seasonal farmers market, the Market on Evans is a community gathering space, housing many special and community events throughout the year.
During the peak of the COVID crisis, when outdoor settings were the safest way to gather, the Market on Evans held dance and exercise classes. The annual Rotary Club Christmas tree sales are now held at the space, and the site now holds several outdoor markets throughout the year.
The work that was completed and community momentum generated from the MEDC funding also enabled the City of Tecumseh to secure a USDA grant for over $70,000, which has paid for a dedicated Market Manager and increased promotions and tools for the Market and vendors.
“The City of Tecumseh is incredibly thankful for the generous funding from the MEDC; it closed the funding gap and acted as a catalyst to launch the Market on Evans,” said Jessica Sattler, Economic Development Director for the City of Tecumseh.
“This property is a key gathering place within our city and the host location of the Tecumseh Farmers Market, one of the most well-known and effective markets in the region. This funding has been leveraged to create and incubate several companies, create nearly 100 jobs and support dozens of merchants in Downtown Tecumseh,” she added.
MEDC is helping build vibrant communities across Michigan. If you have a passion to help make a great new public space in your community, learn more about the Public Spaces Community Places program at miplace.org/programs/public-spaces-community-places.
Photos courtesy of Michigan Economic Development Corporation.