SOCA owes its origins to a 2004-2005 effort called the Saginaw/Oakland Revitalization project, a community visioning process led by the NorthWest Initiative (then known as Northwest Lansing Healthy Communities Initiative) and MSU’s Landscape Architecture Program. More than 400 residents participated in project, sharing input on their goals and objectives for the area, and a visual inventory and “image-making” process for Saginaw Street and Oakland Avenue. The information from this effort was used to create the Saginaw/Oakland Revitalization Action Plan.
In 2005, the City of Lansing designated Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Funds to create a half-time manager position to implement the objectives in the Saginaw/Oakland Revitalization Action Plan. In 2005, the effort became known as the Westside Alliance. Between 2005 and 2010, more than half of the objectives in the Action Plan were accomplished, and several remained in progress during 2011 and 2012. In 2008, the name of the effort was again changed to Westside Commercial Association (WCA), in order to encourage increased participation by owners, managers and employees of businesses located along the Saginaw Street Corridor. The move to re-brand the WCA was also aimed at creating a stronger sense of cohesion and identity for the program as a business district revitalization effort.
In 2010, those working on the project decided to leave the NorthWest Initiative and create a standalone non-profit organization, creating Lansing’s Westside Commercial Association (WCA) in early 2011. In 2014, the WCA again secured CDBG funding from the City of Lansing to fund personnel and operating expenses for the organization’s work. In June 2014, our Board of Directors resolved to change our name from Lansing’s Westside Commercial Association to the Saginaw Oakland Commercial Association (SOCA). We did so in order to better reflect the place that we are working to revitalize, which is Saginaw Street and Oakland Avenue in Lansing.