BOSS Interview: Lena Stevens of Downtown Ferndale
(Crystal A. Proxmire, March 10, 2023)
Ferndale, MI – When people think of Downtown Ferndale, they see the area around 9 Mile and Woodward Avenue that is thriving with restaurants, retail shops, community activities, public art, transportation options like busses and bikes, and more. But behind the physical space is an organization tasked with tying all those things together for the Ferndale experience. Lena Stevens is the Executive Director for the Ferndale Downtown Development Authority, also known as the DDA, or simply Downtown Ferndale.
“We’re essentially here to make sure Downtown Ferndale keeps its vibe and keeps growing, keeps thriving, and keeps changing with the times,” Stevens said in a recent interview with Oakland County Times. Stevens talked about her job, her team, and the work they do as part of our BOSS interview series celebrating local leadership.
Downtown Development Authorities such as Ferndale’s began in the 1980s, when suburban shopping malls and urban sprawl sent many historical downtowns on a downward spiral. The organizations “capture” increased property taxes that would otherwise go to the county and state, to reinvest it in the downtown itself, making it a place people want to visit. Ferndale has grown in recent decades, with Stevens taking on the tradition and helping move the community forward. When asked what’s next she spoke of trends, such as online ordering, upscale dining, specialty foods, and adding more services to the area, including healthcare.
While Stevens is at the helm, the successes happen because of the work of many people, including DDA Board Members, volunteers, support staff, engaged business owners, and other community partners. “The dorky think got say is teamwork makes the dream work,” Stevens said, “and I believe it down to my toenails.”
Learn more about Downtown Ferndale at https://downtownferndale.com/
Stay tuned for more BOSS interviews and panel discussions with Oakland County Times advertisers to help inspire other entrepreneurs.