The League consistently talks about all the great things going on in communities across the state, and this was never more in focus than when six businesses and organizations from across Michigan showcased their efforts as part of the 7th Annual Small Town and Rural Development Conference held last week in Thompsonville.
Presentations included "Cops and Doughnuts" bakery from Clare, "Copper Nail" resale shop from Grass Lake; renovation of the Garden Theatre in Frankfort, development of a small town newspaper, "The Echo", started by a high school teacher and class in Athens, creation of a food market in the small village of Bloomingdale and a Upper Peninsula social entrepreneur organization, "MIUpperHand", that works to expand the sales of local goods and help build local businesses.
Job creation was indeed a major theme through many of the sessions, and much like the League's 21c3 initiative, the focus was on entrepreneurship as a source and strategy for economic growth and community development. A major emphasis was also placed on the ability of rural communities to take advantage of their natural and cultural assets through downtown revitalization and areas such as agriculture, tourism, forestry, and mining. Other topics presented included rural broadband connectivity, shared services and Michigan Main Street program. Governor Snyder also spoke at the conference.
Over 200 attendees from local government, the private and non-profit sector attended the conference. The League helped to support the event, which is hosted by Rural Partners of Michigan.
Arnold Weinfeld is Director of Strategic Initiatives and Federal Affairs for the Michigan Municipal League. He can be reached at 517-908-0304 or by e-mail.