By Christine LaRouere
Old Town Lansing Times staff writer
OLD TOWN LANSING– When it comes to running a community, Lousie Gradwohl knows how to do her job well and gain the respect of those around her.
Gradwohl, executive director of Old Town Commercial Association, or OTCA, said she acts as the liaison between East Lansing and other parts of the city.
However, she said she mainly works for the dedicated citizens in Old Town.
“I love my job,” Gradwohl said. “There is a continual flow of people who remain invested in the community.”
Looking for something new
After graduating from Michigan State University in 2011, a panel that included people from the OTCA Board of Directors chose Gradwohl to take over the executive director position.
Karen Stefl, president of the OTCA Board of Directors, said when she was on the team to hire someone for the position, Gradwohl was a perfect candidate due to her internship with OTCA.
“Through a vigorous call for people who were interested, we interviewed people from all around the state,” Stefl said. “We were impressed that she stepped up.”
Now working with Gradwohl for about three years, Stefl said she is happy they chose Gradwohl because she is committed to Old Town.
“She is a very poised, young professional and works hard to remain organized,” Stefl said. “We haven’t been disappointed in any area… Louise works more hours than anyone around Old Town realizes.”
Focusing on the community
Gradwohl said some of her duties include creating programming that directly improves businesses, running the five committees that work on projects throughout the community and managing the many volunteers who help with those projects.
Her main goal is to change the mindset of people who have money to choose and support local businesses, she said.
“As soon as you stop supporting local, you lose creativity and uniqueness,” Gradwohl said.
Troy Arient, store manager for Bradly’s Home and Garden, said almost every business in Old Town could tell you how Gradwohl keeps them relevant because of the festivals she puts on, thus bringing in business and the meetings she holds between Old Town merchants.
“We have a community feeling here because Louise works so hard to keep us all connected,” Arient said. “The festivals draw the people in, and it’s the shops that make people stay.”
Grace Guerra, intern for OTCA and communication senior at MSU, said Gradwohl is a person who truly cares for Old Town.
“She is in close contact with all the business and is a hub base for them,” Guerra said. “She is working for the community, that’s for sure.”
Guerra said Gradwohl brings a lot of energy to the office, is hands on and is able to utilize technology into her work.
“Since everything is switching to online, it’s nice to have a younger person who knows how to do all that stuff,” Guerra said. “She is someone who is up to date, knows what is going on and what is changing.”
Contact Reporter: Christine LaRouere, (734) 536- 5237, firstname.lastname@example.org