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Region 6 Education Seminar Highlights
The Region 6 Education Seminar, held May 29 in Mackinaw City, welcomed a full house of local officials from across northern-lower Michigan for a day of learning and networking. Officials at the meeting received the latest information on the transportation reauthorization, found out what’s new at mml.org, learned about the Michigan Green Community Challenge, and participated in a lively Q&A session on legislative issues with League State Affairs Director Summer Minnick.
League Public Policy/Federal Affairs Director Arnold Weinfeld gave an update on the latest news regarding transportation funding in Michigan and on the federal level. The League encourages members to join two coalitions to help assist with the transportation crisis and statewide goals. They are www.getmichiganmoving.com and www.drivemi.org.
League Associate Executive Director Tony Minghine walked attendees through the new League website emphasizing the new 21c3 section and the ability to register online.
Cadillac, Charlevoix, Rogers City, and Roscommon gave inspiring presentations for the Community Excellence Awards competition. Cadillac was declared the winner for its entry of the Clam River Greenway; 1.6 miles of connecting paths along the river that were previously overgrown and unutilized. It has enhanced outdoor activity for the entire community and was an approximate ten-year citizen-city collaborative process, including working out easements with property owners and providing boardwalks through DEQ designated floodplains/wetlands. One unique feature is the path’s center line—composed of contrasting red sponsor bricks.
Charlevoix showcased their city marina and park project benefiting business owners, boaters and citizens, completed with no general funds (grants and DDA bonds). A couple unique features: Charlevoix celebrated a renowned local architect by incorporating design reminiscent of his work, and their marina building roof doubles as an observation deck. Rogers City presented an impressive array of multiple downtown and housing projects, leaving no doubt that some of Michigan’s smaller communities really know how to get things done! And in that same vein, Roscommon presented its 5-5-5-5 façade grant program ($5,000 DDA grant + $5,000 loan for 5 years at 5% interest)—boasting 22 participating businesses. Yes, count them, 22!
Jeff Spencer, Green Communities Coordinator for the Department of Energy, Labor and Economic Growth gave a comprehensive review of opportunities available to communities to apply for grants and implement energy efficiencies. Happily, this is one area on which communities may focus efforts over the next few years with a predictable rate of return.