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PONTIAC — PROUD (Pontiac Redeveloping Our United Downtown) is announcing two new promotional events — with the first one happening this weekend.

March-Mellow Daze will kick off Friday and Saturday with businesses in downtown Pontiac.  This unique event will offer “s’more savings” to customers who take a “peep” through all the local shops. People are encouraged to visit the four museums and register to win PROUD bucks.

On April 12, all divas are invited to attend the Downtown Diva Night, a fun evening filled with shopping, dining and pampering.  

The event will be held the second Thursday of every month (April 12, May 10, June 14, July 12, Aug. 9 and Sept. 13).  Registration will be from 5 to 6:45 p.m. when participants can pick up a Diva Passport and gear.   

By visiting 10 businesses during the event, divas will become eligible for prizes during an 8 p.m. drawing.  Cost is $5.

PROUD, the city’s Main Street organization of 24 years, has poured its focus into economic development this year with tourism expected to climb this year after having a     very successful 2011 when tourism was up by 40 percent.  

It has become even more important to offer weekend shopping opportunities for visitors and locals using the “place holder” concept adopted by the Pontiac City Council in the fall of 2011.  This concept provides for the city to pay rent/lease on a viable retail space, holding it until a suitable retail establishment becomes interested.

While the space is vacant, PROUD and the city of Pontiac will be partnering on a joint retail venture —a store that will be called the PROUD of Illinois Marketplace.  The store will be operated by volunteers at first, although some paid positions may be created if revenue meets expectations.

The store will feature items made in Illinois, along with souvenir merchandise from Pontiac and Illinois. The store is expected to open in May, just in time for the start of tourism season.

Fairfield just celebrated her 10th year as the executive director of PROUD.

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