The Michigan Municipal League's Race for the Cup is under way! 

Seven Michigan communities have been selected as regional finalists and will now compete for the statewide Community Excellence Award in October.

During regional meetings at the Michigan Municipal League's Capital Conference Tuesday, March 20, more than 20 communities presented nominations of outstanding community projects and seven finalists were selected - Utica's riverwalk project from Region 1; Grandville's clean water plant from Region 3; Port Huron's parks and recreation collaborative system from Region 5; Bessemer's water distribution improvement partnership from Region 7; Baroda's gateway to wine country campaign from Region 2; Durand's streetscape and railroad image preservation project from Region 4 and Alpena's arts and culture partnership effort from Region 6.

Other regional nominees (aside from regions 3 and 7, which had one nominee each) Tuesday were:

Region 1: Eastpointe’s new “app” for smart phones to connect residents with important services, events and information; Brighton’s economic gardening initiative to grow the city’s downtown as a dining destination; Fenton’s place-making and branding campaign, “Fenton Be Closer”; Lathrup Village’s plan to increase walkability and a sense of place with its Complete Streets Master Plan, Non-Motorized Transportation Improvements Program and Complete Streets ordinance; and Grand Blanc’s “Tour de Grand Blanc” bike-able and walk-able downtown renovation projec

Region 2: The village of Jonesville’s “America in Bloom” public and private partnership between the village and C. Raker and Sons, Inc.; the city of Allegan’s Safe Routes to School program in collaboration with the Hillside Development Center to improve walkability in the community; and the city of Battle Creek’s downtown transformation initiative to recreate downtown as a business and entertainment center.

Region 4: Saginaw's annual performance management plan and “CityStat” program to use real-time data to solve problems and align activities and resources; and Ithaca’s county-wide wind energy initiative.

Region 5: Village of Lexington’s community volunteerism project.

Region 6: Rogers City’s Facebook page that was developed to communicate with the public and showcase the city at no cost; and Manistee’s “Ham It Up,” a campaign intended to promote healthy all-season activity through the reuse of a former industrial site for non-motorized recreation.

The winner of the statewide 2012 Community Excellence Award will be selected during the League's 2012 Convention, which is Oct. 3-5 on Mackinac Island. 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. Coming soon: view press releases from each CEA regional winner here. View photos of the CEA winners and other activities from Capital Conference here on the League's flickr page.

You can also read the press releases on the winners in the League Newsroom.

Matt Bach is director of communications for the Michigan Municipal League. He can be reached at mbach@mml.org and 734-669-6317.

The seven 2012 regional CEA finalists.

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