Advocacy Blue Arrows


Michigan Prosperity Agenda: Festivals Helping Create Sense of Place in Our Communities

Program Explores How to Make a Better Michigan

We are right in the middle of another great Michigan summer – one that gives you a chance to get out, see the state – and maybe visit your favorite festival to see your town or a town nearby in a little different way. Some Michigan cities are really well known for their festivals. It’s hard to think of Traverse City without the National Cherry Festival, or Battle Creek without its world famous Balloon Festival. Around the state, almost every city and village has a festival of its own – a chance to carve out its own little sense of place, provide an economic shot in the arm, make its people feel welcome and to attract visitors from around the county, around the state or even around the nation and world. Just as important, a festival can help a community create an identity that has long-lasting benefits not only year-round but for decades. So I hope you kick back, enjoy the lighter side of our show, and listen as we talk to experts about the festivals just over, those to come, and some worth visiting in your region. My co-host for this month’s show is mlive entertainment reporter John “Gonzo” Gonzalez, who covers the state’s festivals, food and beverage scene. Our guests are Sue Bila, executive director of the Michigan Festivals and Events Association; David Lorenz, acting vice president of Travel Michigan at the Michigan Economic Development Corporation; and Jon Witz, president of Jonathan Witz and Associates and a founder of the Arts Beats and East festival in Royal Oak.

THIS MONTH’S SHOW airs at 7 p.m. Wednesday, July 22 on News/Talk 760 WJR, and you can listen by clicking the links below. Listen as we talk about the upcoming conference and how to build better Michigan communities.

View past radio shows here.

Listen to the full show: (37:50)


Dan Gilmartin

Dan Gilmartin, executive director and CEO of the Michigan Municipal League, explains that the Prosperity Agenda radio show is about challenging listeners to help make Michigan a better place to live, work and play. Gilmartin said having vibrant and prosperous local communities is a key factor.

- Dan Gilmartin explains this month’s show. (1 minute)

John Gallagher

John Gonzalez

John Gonzalez is co-host for this month’s show. He’s the statewide entertainment, travel, beer & food writer for, leading a statewide multi-media approach for mlive Media Group to help his readers experience all things Michigan. A longtime writer for the Grand Rapids Press, John today is multimedia journalist who also has his own radio show that airs outstate called “Behind the Mitten,” which looks at Michigan’s fairs, festivals, restaurants, brewers and more. Since 2012, his Michigan’s Best searches have taken him from Houghton in the Upper Peninsula to Detroit in Southeastern Michigan to seek out great places to eat – and great festivals to enjoy.

- Gonzo discusses some unique Michigan festivals he’s covered. Listen to find out how bologna. (6:40)

Chuck Marohn

Sue Bila

Sue Bila is Executive Director of The Michigan Festivals and Events Association, a statewide organization serving communities and volunteers throughout Michigan, promoting local events, festivals and destinations throughout the Midwest and providing technical assistance, training, and education to its 800 members. She helped found the group in 1992, and today it is the nation’s largest state association in the nation for festivals and events. She currently hosts the show Party @ MI Place on Michigan Business Network.

- Sue gives some tips on what makes a successful festival and talks about the importance of volunteers in creating communities and festivals people love. (9:54)

Marcus Peccia

David Lorenz

David Lorenz is Acting Vice President of Travel Michigan. Prior to that, he was Manager, Industry Relations & International Marketing-TravelMichigan at Michigan Economic Development Corporation. He has been responsible for Travel Michigan's efforts in the areas of international marketing, packaged travel, conventions and meetings, industry relations and sports-event promotion. His responsibilities now also include heading up the state’s tourism branding and marketing efforts through the award-winning Pure Michigan tourism campaign as well as coordinating overall efforts of the Travel Michigan organization.

- David talks about the economic importance of festivals to Michigan and for communities of all shapes and sizes. (10:01)

Joe Borgstrom

Jon Witz

Jon Witz is president of Jonathan Witz and Associates, and a founder of the Arts Beats and Eats festival held this year in Royal Oak. Jon has been in the entertainment and promotion business most of his life, coming to Michigan to help open a club and staying on to help create some of the region’s signature events. He was involved in the 2006 Super Bowl festivities, and helped start the Winter Blast in Campus Martius Park downtown in Detroit – a reminder that festivals aren’t always held in the summer.

- Jon gives advice on starting up a festival and lessons he’s learned over the years. (10:14)


June 24, 2015: Michigan is Redeveloping its Way to Economic Vibrancy

May 27, 2015: Farmers Markets Helping Michigan’s Communities, Economys

April 22, 2015: Building Better Communities

March 25, 2015: A Conversation with Governor Snyder about Proposal 1 Program Explores How to Make a Better Michigan

Feb 25, 2015: What Made You Fall in Love with Your Michigan Community?

Jan 28, 2015: Attracting and Retaining Talent Vital to Michigan’s Future

Dec 29, 2014: Strong Town Strength Test

Nov 26, 2014: Crowdfunding Efforts Helping to Move Michigan Forward

Oct 22, 2014: Placemaking Stories Detailed in New League Book

Sept 24, 2014: The Economic Development Role that Arts and Culture Play in a Community

Aug 27, 2014: The Economic Development Role that Arts and Culture Play in a Community

July 23, 2014: What We Can Do to Make Michigan More Immigrant-Friendly

June 25, 2014: Placemaking and Michigan's Aging Population

May 28, 2014: A Conversation from the National Main Streets Conference in Detroit!

April 23, 2014: Revenue Sharing and the Importance of Investing in Communities

Mar 26, 2014: Crowdfunding Movement; Making a Better Michigan

Feb 26, 2014:Placemaking is a vital part of making our state prosperous again

Jan. 22, 2014:Jobs, jobs and more jobs

Dec. 20, 2013:“PlacePlans” effort taking hold and improving communities across the state

Nov. 27, 2013:The National Media’s Perspective on What is Happening in Detroit

Oct. 23, 2013:The League’s efforts toward an urban policy agenda that moves Michigan toward prosperity

Sept. 25, 2013:Strategic lessons on placemaking from the League’s annual conference in Detroit

Aug. 21, 2013:Michigan’s Port Communities – a Vital Element in the State’s Economic Prosperity

July. 24, 2013:Michigan cities and downtown centers experiencing population growth despite challenges

June. 26, 2013:Complete Streets – Designing roadways to accommodate all users, not just motorists

May. 22, 2013:Engaging citizens is vital to creating prosperous communities

Apr. 24, 2013: Repurposing Property Through Private and Public Partnerships to Revitalize Communities

Mar. 27, 2013: Town-Gown Partnerships Between Cities and Universities Helping to Move State Forward

Feb. 27, 2013: Retiring Baby Boomers Provide Opportunity to Communities

Jan. 23, 2013: Aging in Place

Dec. 26, 2012: Placemaking in Michigan – A Year in Review

Nov. 26, 2012: What is Placemaking and What is MSHDA’s Role in It?

Oct. 24, 2012: Embracing Green Technology in Neighborhood Revitalization

Sept. 26, 2012: Entrepreneurs are Key to Economic Turnaround

August 22, 2012: The MIplace Partnership Initiative Improving Cities and Neighborhoods

July 25, 2012: Arts and Culture Important to Placemaking

June 27, 2012: Entrepreneurs Key to Thriving Michigan Communities

May 23, 2012: Attracting Talent Key to Michigan's Future

April 25, 2012: How Do We Bring it Back to Michigan?

March 28, 2012: Vibrant Michigan Downtowns Good for Business

Feb. 18, 2012: Making Our State More Sustainable

Jan. 25, 2012: The Benefits of Federal Funding for Neighborhood Stabilization

Dec. 29, 2011: The Year in Review

Nov. 27, 2011: Transportation in the State and the Role it Plays in Michigan's Future Economic Prosperity

Oct. 26, 2011: League’s Recently Released Book Emphasizes Quality of Place to Michigan’s Economic Prosperity

Sept. 26, 2011: How will Michigan’s foreclosure crisis impact the state’s future prosperity

August 24, 2011: League Releasing Book Emphasizing Quality of Place

July 27, 2011: What's Happening in Detroit and Other Communities to Make Michigan Better

June 22, 2011: What's Happening in Detroit and Other Communities to Make Michigan Better

May 25, 2011: Why Transit Matter's to Michigan's Future Prosperity

April 27, 2011: Why Place Matters to Michigan's Future Prosperity

Mar. 23, 2011: Gov. Rick Snyder’s Proposed Budget and What it Means for Michigan

Feb. 23, 2011: Gov. Rick Snyder’s Proposed Budget and the Potential Impact on Michigan Cities

Jan 26, 2011: Civic Engagement and Getting People Involved in the Community

Dec 23, 2010: Why Higher Education is Among Main Pillars for Building Michigan's Future

Nov 24, 2010: New Leadership and the Impact on Jobs, Education and Quality of Life

Oct 20, 2010: Michigan Governor Candidates Talk Cities

Sept 23, 2010: Economic Development and Entrepreneurship

Aug 25, 2010: Green Initiatives

July 28, 2010: Economic Gardening

June 23, 2010: Rightsizing Cities

May 26, 2010: Attracting and Retaining Talented Young People

Apr 28, 2010: The New Urban Neighborhood

Mar 24, 2010: Arts, Entertainment and Culture

Feb 24, 2010: Talking Transit

Jan 27, 2010: Making a Better Michigan





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