View photos from the 2011 MML Convention here

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 mbach@mml.org.

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.

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