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Welcome to the Michigan Municipal League 2013 Convention in Detroit!The first day officially began with the Welcome General Session on Wednesday morning, featuring the ever-popular Parade of Flags and the welcoming words of League President David Lossing and Detroit City Council President Saunteel Jenkins, who described the Convention as “an opportunity to learn from each other, exchange ideas and build resources” that will hopefully continue on long after the Convention as we all work together for a better Michigan. The week is also a great chance to “see Detroit as it is, not as it’s reported to be,” said Jenkins.Today’s food truck lunch at Milliken Park on the riverfront was a perfect example, as municipal officials from around the state got to sample the wares of this exciting new entrepreneurial placemaking trend that is sweeping the nation.And of course, the best part of the Welcome General Session every year is the long-awaited presentations of the Community Excellence Award nominees. You would have to have been here to get the full impact of these incredible showstoppers but here’s what they were about:Region 1Fenton, Holly, & Linden—Shiawassee River Heritage Water TrailThe Shiawassee River Heritage Water has seen increased recreational activity on the Shiawassee River over the last decade through intergovernmental and public partnership efforts including promotional signs in Holly, Fenton, Linden, and Argentine and Holly Townships; mile markers along the river to inform paddlers of their location, promotional brochures, annual cleanups, canoe and kayak races from Holly to Fenton, and moonlight paddle events.Region 2St. Joseph—Silver Beach DevelopmentFor many decades vacant property and antiquated industrial buildings dotted the city's lakefront. In 2006, the Silver Beach Committee was formed to acquire the property. After seven years of planning and over $8,200,000 in fundraising, the community christened Silver Beach in 2010, which includes the Silver Beach Carousel, the Curious Kids' Discovery Zone, and Michigan's largest interactive water fountain. Region 3 Belding—Community GardenThe Community Garden Group, in affiliation with Belding Area Schools and the city of Belding, built the Belding Community Garden in the spring of 2012. The garden is accessible to all residents of Belding and surrounding areas. It provides social, educational, and nutritional opportunities to those who may not otherwise have accessRegion 4DeWitt—Community ShowcaseThe 1st Annual 2012 DeWitt Community Showcase was held in April of 2012 at the DeWitt High School, a collaboration of the city of DeWitt, DeWitt Township, and DeWitt Public Schools. The free event included a “Taste of DeWitt,” student art pieces, student performances, and exhibits by over 100 area businesses and civic groups. The event was attended by well over 2,000 residents.Region 5Imlay City—SEED Economic GardeningIn 2010, Imlay City began developing a strategy to foster economic development. The city came up with the SEED Group to foster economic gardening a plan focused on small businesses, entrepreneurs, and overall economic development. Imlay City supports business growth and entrepreneurship through continuous networking events, entrepreneur meet ups, educational workshops, and more. Region 6Rogers City—Placemaking: Dancin’ DowntownIn 2012, Rogers City upgraded its streetscape with sophisticated new LED lighting, new ADA ramps, new flower baskets, way-finding signage, and other amenities including a new Museum Annex, new recreational trails and pocket parks, several new library programs, and two new public art projects. As many as 100 new jobs in a city of 2,782 people are being created via new cooperative economic development efforts between city and county governments and private businesses. Region 7Ironwood—Depot Park RevitalizationThe city of Ironwood’s placemaking effort is centered on the revitalization of a railroad depot into a park. The plan is to merge city blocks, add a pavilion, playground equipment, landscaping, volleyball courts, and other amenities in an effort to promote health, history, and recreation. The park will also serve as a trail head for non-motorized trails crossing the region.
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