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GRAND RAPIDS, Michigan - Clare's Cops & Doughnuts business won the 2011 Community Excellence Awards Friday (Oct. 7, 2011) during the Michigan Municipal League's 2011 Convention in Grand Rapids during ArtPrize. This is the highest statewide honor bestowed on a Michigan community by the League.
The peer-nominated CEAs (affectionately called "The Race for the Cup" because the winner gets a gold cup as a trophy) starts at the regional level where a finalist from each of the League's seven region is selected by community peers at regional meetings. The seven finalist then presented their entires at Convention on Wednesday (Oct. 5, 2011) and the Convention attendees voted for the winners in a competition monitored and sponsored by Plante & Moran.
All seven nominees were excellent. The other finalists were West Branch for its Fabulous Friday's program; Paw Paw for its Uncork Paw Paw initiative; Ludington for its New Years Eve Ball Drop event; Marquette for its water safety initiative; Southfield for its youth 'field Zone program; and Vassar for its Chill on the Hill event.
League members said picking a winner this year was especially difficult because all the presentations were outstanding, but Clare's program really showed how a small group of people can make a difference in a community. The historic bakery in downtown Clare was going to close and the nine Clare police officers decided iin the 11th hour to purchase it. Not only did they save the bakery, but they turned it into a tourist destination that has benefitted the entire community.
On the Michigan Municipal League's Facebook page, Eastpointe Mayor and MML Board member Suzanne Pixley said this about Cops & Doughnuts and the other finalists:"To all...Clare's Cops and Doughnuts is such a great story for the small city of Clare...Long time donut store gave up with the economy and decided to close...The "Cops" in Clare decided that the donut shop was a tradition and couldn't close...The police (9 of them) went together and bought the store, did some fancy marketing and are now a destination spot for many heading up north...They went from 1.8 employees to 28...Great story for a small community of just over 2,000...They won the award, but the other cities up for the award were just great."
The announcement of the CEA winner concluded the League's 2011 Convention in Grand Rapids. Next year's Convention will take place in October on Mackinaw Island. Other highlights - and there were many - at this year's Convention included a talk by Gov. Rick Snyder, the honoring of numerous award winners, including Speaker of House Jase Bolger, R-Marshall, as the League's 2011 Legislator of the Year, and State Rep. Vicki Barnett, D-Farmington Hills, getting the 2011 Honorary Life Membership Award, and the unveiling of the League's new book, "The Economics of Place: The Value of Building Communities Around People" (now available at economicsofplace.com and on Amazon.com). View press releases sent out and coming soon here.
For details about Convention go here. You can also follow us on Facebook at facebook.com/mmleague and on Twitter at @mmleague and the hashtag #mmltour.
Matt Bach is director of communications for the Michigan Muncipial League. He can be reached at (734) 669-6317 or email@example.com.
Clare officials Bill Horwood, Greg Rynearson, Al White, and Mayor Patrick Humphrey Celebrate Clare Winning the 2011 Community Excellence Award from the Michigan Municipal League. View more photos from the CEA competition here.
Michigan State University's Director of Arts and Cultural Initiatives Kurt Dewhurst, Ph.D, talked about how to identify, promote and protect a sense of place in a community during the League's Region 2 Education Seminar on May 20 at the Hannah Community Center in East Lansing.
Dewhurst discussed how our places connect us to the past and our community and cultural traditions, while keeping the local environment distinctive. During his talk on developing strategies to reach placemaking goals, he proposed key questions to ask.
1. To identify your community's sense of place, ask what is distinctive about your community, inventory your cultural resources and collect the vfoices and stories of creative people and businesses. Interactive web tools can be a tremendous asset in this process.
2. To promote your sense of place, think beyond the standard, conventional forms of artistic expression to consider aspects of creativity like food and event traditions. Authentic character should be promoted to create a more distinctive sense of place, Dewhurst said.
3. Protect your community's sense of place through historic preservation programs integrated with the living, creatve and cultural heritage of your community. Maximize your investment by using your cultural inventories to guide an adaptive use of your places and spaces.
East Lansing itself was a great example of many of the day's key themes. Its Hannah Community Center is the city's historic high school, rehabbed and repurposed into an attractive community facility. It was also the weekend for the city's annual art festival, which draws thousands of residents and visitors to the downtown and campus area for a celebration of arts, crafts, music, food and entertainment.
The seminar also included six great presentations for the Region 2 Community Excellence Award. Click here to read more about the CEA presentations.
The League's Andy Schor presented an update on Lansing, including the recent victory in securing more funding for revenue sharing and brownfield and historic funding. He also moderated a legislative panel featuring Sen. Rick Jones, Rep. Mark Meadows, Rep. Paul Opsommer and Sen. Gretchen Whitmer.
A media-savvy placemaking campaign called "Uncork Paw Paw" earned top honors as the Region 2 Community Excellence Award winner, at the Region 2 League Tour stop in East Lansing on Friday, May 20.
According to Paw Paw Village Manager Larry Nielsen, the community decided to build on its sense of place as a wine country destination, by launching a market and cluster analysis to identify a target audience and devise an effective strategy for promoting the region. At the same time, they created a proactive support system for new entrepreneurship and existing businesses, giving out more than $400,000 in grants in the past three years for everything from education and training to building facade and interior improvements.
The marketing analysis determined there are about 54,000 homes within 20 minutes of Paw Paw, and 114,000 within 30 minutes. They used that data to build an effective marketing strategy that reached 79 percent of 2010 festival attendees in the target region outside the Paw Paw zip code. Paw Paw's annual schedule of lakeside concerts and blockbuster events include an annual Wine & Harvest Festival, Harvest Moon Exgtravaganza, Art Hop and a vintage ball club. It has all added up to create a unique sense of place in Paw Paw as a wine country destination. The result: Paw Paw has added 27 new businesses, with another 43 renovated or expanded.
In receiving the award, Nielsen said he was gratified but more importantly, hoped it would serve as a do-able example for other communities seeking to build a sense of place based on their own unique assets.
"The recognition by your peers is always nice, but what I'm really excited about is that this is the type of program that many communities can easily do to capitalize on their assets, and find the same great success that we have," said Nielsen.
Paw Paw competed against five other impressive projects: the city of Adrian's "Rebirth of a Downtown" detailed the historic rise, fall and rebirth of the city's downtown; Coldwater presented its Connections Art Festival, a month-long series of events and programs that show the rewards of cultural economic development; Delhi Charter Township showed a video detailing how "Greening Delhi" has included a state-of-the-art biomass converter, aggressive and comprehensive recycling programs and other front-line green initiatives; Mason's city staff proudly presented its new city hall, the city's first truly "green" municipal building; and Tecumseh offered "Lean and Mean," an innovative, low-cost program to engage the community's youth by giving them cameras to shoot images of the community's best and worst features, then using that to launch a series of initiatives.
"Each project has its own merits so it's very, very difficult to choose," said League Board President and Alpena Mayor Carol Shafto, in praising the impressive array of presentations.
Paw Paw will now go on to compete against the other six regional winners for the statewide CEA at the League's Annual Convention Oct. 4-7 in Grand Rapids.
Check back later for more Tour news on the Region 2 Education Seminar!
KALKASKA, Michigan - The West Branch community won the Region 6 Community Excellence Award for its “Fabulous Fridays” program and now has a chance to win the statewide CEA in the Michigan Municipal League’s “Race for the Cup” competition. Read more about this peer-selected “Race for the Cup” contest that recognizes outstanding community services, projects and programs.
West Branch was among four communities seeking the regional CEA honor Wednesday, May 4, 2011, at the Region 6 seminar in Kalkaska. The event was the first of seven regional seminars as part of the 2011 “League Tour”: tour.mml.org. The others vying for the award in the upper half of Michigan’s northern peninsula were Hillman for its “Extreme Makeover” bridge and street reconstruction project, presented by Hillman Village Manager David Post; Rogers City for its $7.6 million water and sewer project, presented by Rogers City Manager Mark Slown; and Petoskey for the improvement plan for the Bear River Recreation Area, presented by Petoskey City Manager Dan Ralley.
West Branch’s program was presented by City Manager Tom Youatt and councilmember Rusty Showalter and prepared by Pete Fabbri, of the West Branch retail merchants committee. Youatt said they were honored to be selected by the Region 6 peers for the award.
"It was a great competition and there were some great projects in our region presented today,” Youatt said. “We feel very honored to win our regional competition and look forward to presenting in Grand Rapids.”
The Fabulous Fridays started a few years ago and has cranked up its historic downtown economy with themed Fridays, including a very popular Gong Show and Classic Chassis car show. More than 14,000 people attended over the last three summers and business is up 10-15 percent annually in the small town, Youatt said.
“The Fabulous Fridays increase the exposure to the downtown business district in our city and it’s generated a lot of interest in West Branch and our downtown,” Youatt said.
“Plus it brings back that small town, old town feel when a community would gather together,” added Showalter.
Alpena Mayor Carol Shafto, League board president, said all four nominees did an excellent job and are proof that Michigan communities continue to take on some excellent programs and projects despite the economy
“I honestly thought all 4 of projects were really excellent and I didn’t know who to vote for,” Shafto said. “It shows that for a small region we have a wide variety of projects with each having excellence in its own rights. I thought it was amazing.”
West Branch will now compete for the statewide CEA honor (against the CEA winners of the other 6 regions) during the League’s annual Convention Oct. 4-7, 2011 in Grand Rapids. Register online for the 2011 Convention starting June 1.
This year’s Convention will cap-off a several month long “MML Tour”: http://www.mml.org/events/mmltour/ that began today in Kalkaska with the Region 6 seminar. For more on the MML Tour go here: http://www.mml.org/events/mmltour/; and on Twitter at #mmltour. The Regional Meetings give Michigan Municipal League members a chance to hear from League staff and state officials about the latest municipal-related legislation in Lansing and ways communities are becoming the types of areas where people want to live, work and play. The next Regional meeting is Friday, May 4, in Hamtramck: http://www.mml.org/events/regional/region_1.htm. The League is still accepting registrations from members for upcoming regional meetings Ludington (May 11), Marine City (May 18), East Lansing (May 20), Houghton (May 26-27) and Saginaw (June 1). View the full regional schedule here.
Thanks again to all those who attended! We hope to see you—as well as those who weren’t able to attend the Region Seminar—at Convention Oct. 4-7 in Grand Rapids. Find out more about the MML Tour here: http://www.mml.org/events/regional/index.html.
Matt Bach is director of communications for the Michigan Municipal League. He can be reached at (734) 669-6317 and firstname.lastname@example.org.
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