July 25, 2016

Partly cloudy

Nonprofit looks to promote downtown Brunswick

BRUNSWICK — A nonprofit group is hoping to achieve in Brunswick what Main Street Medina has done in its city: Create an exciting downtown that attracts people — and their money.

Brunswick Town Center was founded by Melissa Malone, who hopes to offer more community events to support local businesses.

Another goal is “to give the citizens of Brunswick an identity,” she said.

Brunswick Town Center — similar to Main Street Medina — is kicking off its first major event Sept. 14. BBQ Bands & Brew will include barbecue from local restaurants and residents who want to participate and will be held on Town Center Boulevard. (GRAPHIC PROVIDED)

“We want to be business friendly,” Malone said. “It’s been a struggle to bring in business and keep those businesses.

“Part of that is the missing identity.”

Malone hopes her organization can offer local businesses support and fun activities in Brunswick in a manner similar to Main Street Medina, a nonprofit that promotes numerous events and activities in downtown Medina, such as the Ice Festival, International Festival and Candlelight Walk.

Malone acknowledged that Medina has several advantages that her city lacks: Brunswick doesn’t have a town square that’s designated a historic district.

That means Main Street Medina can get grants for which Brunswick Town Center isn’t eligible.

“They’re preserving a historic district,” Malone said.

Malone said her first priority is to find a location residents will come to see as a community gathering place.

She thinks Brunswick Town Center Plaza can do that.

The plaza, on Town Center Boulevard off Center Road just west of Interstate 71, is laid out like a traditional town square, featuring rows of shops and open spaces. There’s even a lamppost clock.

Unlike Medina’s Public Square, Brunswick Town Center is privately owned. It was designed to be part of the residential and retail mixed-use area surrounding Brunswick Lake. The city is working to secure a developer for the remaining five acres at Brunswick Lake that sits just south of the Brunswick Town Center.

Malone is hopeful that the owners will be willing to work with her and other businesses to host events.

Brunswick Town Center is kicking off its first major event — BBQ Bands & Brew — Sept. 14.

“We thought it would be a good fall event, and it’s something different than what other local communities are doing,” she said.

Businesses from in and around Brunswick are invited to participate, and craft beer brewers from throughout the region will be on hand to showcase their products.

The event will include barbecue from local restaurants and residents who want to participate. Everything will be lined up along the median of Town Center Boulevard. Malone also is booking local bands to perform along the grassy area at the south end of the shopping plaza.

“This is our first event, so we’re hoping to book bands who would donate their time to perform,” she said.

Malone said she’s hoping to add more events as her organization grows.

“Our main purpose is to fill the gap between what the city can handle and what the chamber is able to do,” Malone said. “We’re looking to establish a fund so if a business in Brunswick needs some help to improve their storefront or get some working capital or workforce training, they can apply for a grant.”

Brunswick Economic Development Director Tim Smith said he supported Malone’s efforts.

Smith said Brunswick Town Center was intended to be a focal point of the city.

“Everyone originally had pictured the idea that events would be going on there,” said Smith.

Smith said events like the one Malone has planned would encourage more business owners to buy up the remaining vacant storefronts.

“These events bring customers,” he said. “As these things develop, it makes Brunswick more attractive.”

For more information about Brunswick Town Center and BBQ, Bands & Brews, visit www.BrunswickTownCenter.org.

Contact reporter Loren Genson at (330) 721-4063 or lgenson@medina-gazette.com.

Loren Genson About Loren Genson

Loren Genson was The Gazette's senior reporter. From August 2012 through September 2015, she covered Brunswick city and state and national government. To contact The Gazette, call the managing editor at (330) 721-4065.