These 10 Michigan small towns to compete for $50K in grants for innovative placemaking projects

What’s happening: Ten of the most innovative placemaking projects happening in Michigan small towns will take the stage at this year’s Small Town and Rural Development Conference to compete in a pitch competition. The top three winners will share in $50,000 worth of grant funding as part of the annual Put Your Town on the Map Competition from the Consumers Energy Foundation.

What it is: Communities with fewer than 10,000 residents were able to apply for the competition, which rewards placemaking projects designed to help Michigan’s smaller communities grow and thrive. The finalists, selected by the Consumers Energy Foundation and the Community Economic Development Association of Michigan (CEDAM), will then compete in the pitch competition which will award the top three winners with $25,000, $15,000, and $10,000 grants, respectively.

Who made it: Those communities competing in this year’s contest include Au Gres for their Kinder Platz Park “old fashion” transformation; Bellaire for a community year-round garden project; Coopersville for a community outdoor fitness park; Dimondale for a village history art mural; Imlay City for a public interactive art and audio display; Napoleon for a heritage trail project; Rogers City for a public art sculpture; Saranac for a covered community concert pavilion; St. Johns for community artistic benches; and White Cloud for downtown planter boxes and benches.

What they’re saying: “The Consumers Energy Foundation has been proud to sponsor this competition since its inception, as every year we’re able to provide funding for placemaking projects that enhance Michigan's small towns as great places to live,” says Brandon Hofmeister, president of the Consumers Energy Foundation. “With dozens of project entries, selecting only 10 finalists was difficult, but we’re excited to learn more about these projects from the community members most passionate about them.”

About that conference: The 2024 Small Town & Rural Development Conference is scheduled for April 29 through May 1 at the Crystal Mountain Resort in Thompsonville. The annual conference is touted as the premier statewide conference for those working and interested in economic development in rural Michigan. Planned events include the pitch competition, guest speakers and forums, networking activities, and more.

Up-to-date information for the conference, including a link to registration, is available online.

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.
Enjoy this story? Sign up for free solutions-based reporting in your inbox each week.