On Wednesday, April 13, Downtown Pontiac sent out a welcoming invitation to Oakland University students and faculty for the inaugural GrizzNight in Downtown Pontiac as part of the programming around the OU/Pontiac Initiative.
The community of business owners and art partnerships came together to build over 20 activities for the students while maintaining extended shop hours and open doors on a day with historically low foot traffic in Downtown Pontiac - Wednesday nights. Saginaw Street was alive with activity from several of our retail shops, service businesses, and local non-profits and organizations coming together to welcome Oakland University and create awareness about the activities, employment opportunities, resources, and fun that could be had in their neighboring Downtown Pontiac.
Downtown Pontiac has been promoting and unifying the thirty-three retail shops who's businesses have products available to purchase with registers and regular hours with the "Shop Pontiac" initiative which creates both networking opportunities for our local businesses to be aware of each other's services, as well as promotional opportunities such as GrizzNight that drives targeted foot traffic to promote Downtown's businesses with a common theme of Shop Local - Support Local.
The inaugural GrizzNight event created awareness to approximately 100 Oakland University faculty and staff as well as created interest from the neighborhoods surrounding downtown to come out and join in the celebration to bring community, students, and businesses together. The Gold and Yellow balloons and GrizzNight signs in the windows indicated participating locations with activities for everyone to enjoy. Students began their Saginaw journey at DASI Solutions to learn about the future of 3D printing and explore both their learning lab and 3D printing lab. From there the Saginaw Street journey would take them into Max Out Fitness to learn about fitness training and mentorship opportunities. Saginaw Street Consignments welcomed the students and staff with open arms to explore the retail shop. Mad Cow Custom Leather shared how integral the concept of Shop Local and Made in Michigan meant with their leather goods creations made and sold here in Pontiac. Jay Burgher, the owner of Mad Cow Custom Leather, shared the comments of local students who were "impressed by the resources available" and "how accessible Downtown Pontiac and it's businesses were to students".
The hub of activity for the community ended up being around the arts and cultural exhibits put together at the P.L.A.T. (Pontiac's Little Art Theatre) where ten different art organizations from the community assembled to share the opportunities for arts and culture here within the City of Pontiac. For a city with a strong past of arts and culture, the assemblage of art organizations was impressive even drawing several City officials to enjoy the celebrations put together. Robert Karazim, owner of the P.L.A.T. and chair of the extremely well known Canvas Pontiac art program gathered the exhibition space. Mr. Karazim was impressed with the students excitement about Pontiac's art and cultural opportunities. Karen Jorgensen, co-owner of the P.L.A.T. shared commentary from the students who understood and were excited to see how "grassroots efforts around the arts was driving a community like Pontiac forward".
Glen Konopaskie, Executive Director for Downtown Pontiac, was proud to introduce Downtown Pontiac to the students of Oakland University. Thanks to Board involvement for the Main Street Pontiac organization, and President Phil Wojtowicz, the OU and Pontiac initiative was coordinated two months out with an incredible participation of Branden Dyer and Gabriela Sullen, this seasons AmeriCorp VISTA partners with Oakland Univeristy.
The FUN of the evening's event was well summarized on social media as part of the scavenger hunt involved the hunt for Pontiac's "Big Yellow Chair" which was located in Saginaw Green Park. Social media hunters can search #GrizzNight or #DowntownPontiac and #BigYellowChair and see all the antics from students, staff, and community members on Facebook and Twitter. Even Oakland University's Grizzly got in on the antics with the Big Yellow Chair.
The inaugural GrizzNight was the precursor to the Fall's event during Oakland University's Welcome Week festivities. The partnerships will continue to grow throughout the summer season to build a bigger event coming this Fall. In the meantime if you'd like to meet the neighbors be sure to check out Main Street Pontiac's "Shop Pontiac - Network with the Neighbors" on Tuesday mornings, or simply stop in and support your local businesses. Shop Local - Support Local; Pontiac.
To keep in touch with local Main Street Pontiac events, visit www.PontiacDBA.com or follow DowntownPontiac on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. Subscribe to the email list to receive regular news and events updates directly from the website when you search Downtown Pontiac in Google.