Organizers of Muskegon's image campaign say it's working

Muskegon outside investment

MUSKEGON, MICH. - The organizers of the "Watch Muskegon" image campaign say research shows it's working.

And they believe it's not only attracting more tourists, but also developers choosing to invest money in Muskegon County.

Just look at the home on the corner of Kenneth and Apple for proof.

Grand Rapids property developer Mark Arnoudse spent six months fixing it up and preparing the house for a tenants. 

"The roof was in terrible shape," said Arnoudse, owner of M-C Property Development.

He purchased the house from the Muskegon County Land Bank. It had fallen of the tax rolls and was vacant.

Soon a family will live here. Arnoudse believes Muskegon's real estate has great value. And he's looking for additional properties to purchase.

"We have got ones we are looking at and negotiating right now," said Arnoudse. "If things go good we will stay here for a long time."

The property Arnoudse purchased was one of several the Muskegon County Land Bank owns that possible could have been razed.

Muskegon County Land Bank Director Tim Burgess says the rehab is a great example of the properties the land bank hopes to sell. And in June Burgess is planning a parade of homes to match investors with available properties.  

"We are hoping to show that even though some of these houses were left for dead they still have life left in them and they are viable," said Burgess.

Arnoudse says he began thinking about investing in Muskegon in part because the Watch Muskegon campaign started two years ago.

"Muskegon Watch Us Go is a big deal, and whoever came up with that is great," said Arnoudse. 

Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber President Cindy Larsen says research shows the "Watch Muskegon" campaign is attracting attention beyond the county line.

The campaign was to last three years. Instead of ending it this year, Larsen says it will keep running.

 "We need to make sure that out new image is cemented and it is not just a temporary thing," Larsen said.

Watch Muskegon is credited for an up tick in tourism. Larsen believes it's attracting dozens of investments like the one Arnoudse is making too.

The new phase of "Watch Muskegon" hopes to flood social media with photos using the #ThisIsMuskegon."

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