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2008 Annual Convention

The Word from the Island!

Friday Evening & Saturday Morning, October 3 & 4

The Race for the Cup Reaches the Finish Line with the Armory Arts Village
The League's 110th Annual Convention closed with great fanfare—the presenting of the Community Excellence Award Cup.  Seven municipalities vied for the honor.  By winning their respective Regional meetings, our seven finalists were Oak Park, Jackson, Zeeland, AuGres, Marysville, Elk Rapids, and a joint project by Houghton and Hancock.  Each Regional finalist made an inspiring seven-minute presentation to the Convention delegation on Thursday morning, then each delegate voted for the project they felt was the most worthy.  The votes were tallied by our official accounting firm, Plante & Moran.

The Cup was awarded in three dramatic phases, each with music and lighting.  When our official accountants handed the envelope to the League's president, the winner was heralded:  the city of Jackson!  Amid balloons, music, and tears, Jackson was awarded the Cup for the transformation of their old prison site into an artist colony.  Excellence in municipal governance, innovation, and hard work was duly rewarded, and Jackson is making a better Michigan.  Please visit the site of their wonderful project.  They would love to have you.

Entrepreneurship—It Begins with Community
The importance of entrepreneurship to the 21st century economy cannot be overstated.  We compete with the world for talent and we must create places that promote and nurture this critical segment.  Mark Clevey  of the LaBelle Entrepreneur Center, Central Michigan University, and Barb Fails  o f Michigan State University    provided fascinating perspectives on the role of “economic gardening” in community and economic development.  Clevey described the various types of entrepreneurs and highlighted those that focus on profit, growth and innovation as the best to cultivate.  All are important, but these entrepreneurs are responsible for the most economic impact.  Both speakers stressed that a sense of place, and the community’s infrastructure (i.e. social & business networks, etc.) are the MOST important factors to these high-potential entrepreneurs in deciding where to locate and grow their business.  Sound familiar?  Sense of place is also central to attracting millennials and baby boomers, which are the key demographics in winning the global competition for talent.  The “to-do list” for communities provided through this session is to:  provide resources for high-impact entrepreneurs, encourage/promote thriving social networks within the community, and create a culture that values and celebrates entrepreneurs.  For more in-depth information on this topic visit which also has details on the Creating Entrepreneurial Communities conference on November 19 in Lansing.

Annual Awards Banquet
It is always a highlight of Convention to have the Annual Awards Banquet in the main dining room of the Grand Hotel—it is a special treat for members and for the award recipients and their guests.

The evening began by recognizing four individuals who received the League’s Special Award of Merit which recognizes local officials and other individuals for exceptional leadership and service to the League and municipal government:  Shea Charles, city manager of Howell; Richard Lewis, former city manager of Traverse City; Bill Stewart, city manager of Coldwater, and Coco Siewert, former mayor of Birmingham and registered parliamentarian.

Then the outstanding legislators were recognized with a Legislator of the Year Award, which was established to recognize those individuals who have been instrumental in the passage of legislation that will benefit local governments or who have fought consistently to support local government.  President Deborah Doyle recognized Senator Jason Allen and Representative Marie Donigan as the 2008 recipients of this award.

John Barr, city attorney for Ypsilanti, and Phil Balkema, former city attorney for Grand Rapids, were recognized earlier in the week as recipients of the William Steude Ethics and Civility Award by the Michigan Association of Municipal Attorneys.  Dan Matson, city attorney for DeWitt, received a Distinguished Municipal Attorney Award for 2008.

Two new and very special awards were created this year.  Ron Gillham, mayor of Huntington Woods, received the first annual Michael A Guido Leadership and Public Service Award and Bob Slattery, Jr., mayor of Mount Morris, received the first annual Jim Sinclair Exceptional Service Award.

Congratulations to our award winners!


Wednesday, October 1

Thursday, October 2

Friday, October 3




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