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Group aims to raise awareness to district

August 23, 2012
Steve Schulwitz - News Staff Writer , The Alpena News

ALPENA - After seeing the success of the wayfinding signs in downtown Alpena, a group of representatives from the Besser Museum for Northeast Michigan, Alpena Community College and the APlex forged a plan that could help people locate and take advantage of the offerings the entities provide.

On Monday Alpena Municipal Council granted a request by Steve Lappan, who was representing a group of others, to designate the area surrounding the museum, the convention center and the school the North River District. It is the hope the new title will attract attention from those visiting from out of town, and become a valuable marketing tool.

Lappan, second vice president on the board of trustees at the museum, said six different signs promoting the district and providing direction will be placed strategically throughout Alpena. He said they will help people who aren't familiar with the town a chance to see the attractions, which may not be downtown.

"To tell you the truth in terms of the museum I'm being a little bit selfish, because I want to be able to capture 10 to 15 percent of the traffic going to NOAA. That would be great," Lappan said. "We want the signs and the name to help people who may be from out of town to come to the events or stop and walk through the museum. We hope the name is used in advertising. One of the dealerships could use it in a commercial with something like 'located in Alpena's North River District.' It just sort of rolls of the tongue."

Darlene Wilmot said the goal for all of those involved was to have something that fit all of the entities located in the district and help bring them together as one.

"We wanted to develop an identity for our corner of the city and we wanted to come up with a name that would be descriptive to were it is. That way when we start doing events that are similar or bunching them together, we can direct people to the North River District. It was basically giving our neighborhood a name."

Lappan, Wilmot and ACC's Jay Welterreit worked closely throughout the development of the district. Lappan said the name of the district needed to lend itself well in terms of branding and so did the logo, which is still being designed. He said once the logo is finished it will be featured on the signs and available for those in the district to use for promotion or advertising.

"We have already seen three or four different logos, but for one reason or another they just haven't fit," Lappan said. "We want people when they see it to be able to identify it and think of the district as new and exciting. I also want it to have long legs and will pass the test of time. We don't want something that is cool today and then a few years from now doesn't fit. we hope the different entities in the district use it and take advantage of it."

Wilmot said in the future the museum, the college and the APlex could host events in the North River District, such as the Friday night downtown parties. She said it is not to compete with the downtown events, but to add things to do to the local calendar.

"Downtown is so vibrant and going so well we don't want anyone to think we are in competition with it, but we are able to do some things because we're indoors," Wilmot said. "We an do some things when the weather isn't as good. The downtown thrives because they can take advantage of the great weather, so we were thinking maybe we could do some things in the cooler winter months. we're still kicking around ideas and nothing is in stone, but the potential is there."

Steve Schulwitz can be reached via e-mail at or by phone at 358-5689.



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