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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