Placemaking project in Fennville wins $25K in pitch competition

What’s happening: Placemaking projects in Fennville, Reed City, and Harbor Beach took home a total of $50,000 in cash prizes at this year’s 2023 Small Town and Rural Development Conference, the Community Economic Development Association of Michigan’s annual conference most recently held on Thursday, June 8, at the Crystal Mountain resort in Thompsonville. The winning projects competed amongst 10 finalists as part of the Consumers Energy Foundation’s 2023 Put Your Town on the Map pitch competition.

What it is: The Consumers Energy Foundation’s Put Your Town on the Map pitch competition launched in 2019 as a placemaking contest for small towns – with a maximum population of up to 10,000 residents – throughout the state’s lower peninsula.

“The Put Your Town on the Map pitch competition is all about rewarding big, bold and innovative ideas that will help Michigan’s small towns grow and thrive,” says Carolyn Bloodworth, secretary/treasurer of the Consumers Energy Foundation. “These three winning projects will transform their communities and make them even better places to live, work, and raise a family. The Consumers Energy Foundation is proud to support their efforts, and we look forward to celebrating with them as the projects are completed.”

Who won: Fennville took home a first place prize of $25,000 for their bilingual wayfinding initiative, which aims to marry the community’s sense of place with its mission to support inclusivity, diversity, and growth. Reed City won second place ($15,000) for their Reed City Crossroads Recreation Connection project, an outdoor recreation initiative that will activate downtown sites with a pocket park, dog park, and more. And Harbor Beach comes in third ($10,000) for their gardening program, expanding gardening opportunities in the community by installing a number of large raised-bed planters in public spaces.

What they’re saying: “The City of Fennville is thrilled to be awarded this prize from the Consumers Energy Foundation,” says Katie Beemer, city administrator for Fennville. “Our bilingual wayfinding project is not just about putting physical signs in place that will help give people directions around town, it is also about reminding people about the amazing places and benefits of living in our community, something that often goes overlooked in small and rural communities.”

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