The Albion Reinvestment Corporation (ARC) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the restoration of downtown Albion. The corporation, formed in 2013, has steadily been gaining money from interested donors, many of whom are closely tied to Albion College and are investing money back into the community.
In it’s seven years of organization, the group has raised $800,000 dollars and is currently purchasing downtown buildings and storefronts with the intent of renovating them and making them more appealing to potential companies.
The group also plans to remodel the apartments located above the storefronts to attract sound tenants who will help balance the rental prices of the buildings and draw in more small businesses.
The ARC’s current project, known as The Big Albion Plan, hopes to see the refurbishment of eighteen main street buildings overall.
David Hogberg, a retired Albion College faculty member, has been a resident of Albion for the past 56 years and has been a firsthand witness to the many changes in the economics and structure of the town. While Hogberg said that he is hopeful that the physical appearance of Albion can be restored to its former glory, he understands that the people of the community is what truly sets Albion apart.
“There’s been a reduction in population by about half,” said Hogberg. “The general level of prosperity has diminished, the public school system closed, but the people are nice, that hasn’t changed a bit.”
In the 1960’s, Albion had several successful manufacturing companies located right on the main street. As industry and technology advanced, these companies began to expand, and the small storefronts of Albion weren’t large enough to encase their new capacity needs. Of the major businesses that packed up and left the city during this time, the Albion Malleable Iron Company was the last to go in 1986.
With a sudden decline in job opportunities and population, the once lively and industrious town suddenly became much less populated. Today, the city and the college are closely intertwined since the college is such a source of economic sustenance in the town.
Both the foundation and the community residents are hoping to see the growth of infrastructure and the return of institutions such as hospitals and schools to the town as a result of the overhaul and reinvestment efforts. The college has a unique relationship with ARC, which is made up of many key players closely associated with the school.
In relation to the college’s position and influence within the community, the college is already planning expansion that furthers the re-development of the town. According to those involved in the decision making process, Downtown Albion is on the cusp of revitalization.