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Watch the Community Excellence Award Finalist Video of "Uncork Paw Paw" Campaign

clock October 28, 2011 08:45 by author Elizabeth Shaw

Community Excellence Award Finalist Video "Uncork Paw Paw"

A media-savvy placemaking campaign called "Uncork Paw Paw" earned top honors as the Region 2 Community Excellence Award winner back in May 2011, and was one of the seven outstanding presentations at the League Convention in October. It's an outstanding example of placemaking, and of how a community can partner with business and foster entrepreneurship in a mutually beneficial relationship. (To learn more about fostering entrepreneurship, click here to watch Dr. Ernesto Sirolli's presentation.)

According to Paw Paw Village Manager Larry Nielsen, the community built its sense of place as a wine country destination. They first launched 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.

"Uncork Paw Paw" is a do-able example for other communities seeking to build a sense of place based on their own unique assets.

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Watch the Community Excellence Award-Winning Video of Clare's Cops & Doughnuts Bakery

clock October 28, 2011 07:22 by author Elizabeth Shaw

Clare Cops & Doughnuts Wins Michigan Municipal League 2011 Community Excellence Award

The Cops & Doughnuts Bakery owned and operated by nine Clare police officers won the Michigan Municipal League’s Community Excellence Award on October 7, 2011 at the League’s Annual Convention in Grand Rapids, where finalists from the state’s seven regions competed for the coveted title. The CEA program, also called "The Race for the Cup," was started by the League in 2007 to recognize innovative solutions taking place in Michigan’s cities, villages and urban townships.


Clare's entry was a great example of the vital role that entrepreneurship can play not only in a city's economic development, but in helping to create a community image and a true sense of place.

The historic Clare City Bakery in downtown Clare was going to close and virtually in the 11th hour, the nine Clare police officers decided to pool their own funds to purchase it. Not only did they save the bakery, but they turned it into a tourist destination that has benefitted the entire community.

Clare Police Officer Al White said the Cops & Doughnuts bakery has received nationwide media coverage and accolades since the group of police officers took ownership nearly two years ago. The business helps promotes the entire city and its business district, and also supports the community as a whole through charitable donations and sponsorship of many local events. White also praised city officials for allowing the bakery owners' to make the most of their dual identity as city police officers as an integral part of their marketing campaign. What could have been seen by some as a risky move has turned out to be a benefit to both the bakery and the city as a whole.

It's a whole new way for a city to partner with the business community, showing how sometimes the best way to help new entrepreneurs is to just let it happen. The whole concept of fostering entrepreneurship needs to be reimagined, according to Dr. Ernesto Sirolli, a world-renowned expert in nurturing the creative spark of entreneurship. Click here to watch the video of Sirolli's presentation at the League Convention.

  Congratulations again, Clare!

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