©2017 Michigan Economic Development Corporation

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Matching grants help to create vibrant public spaces

Public Spaces Community Places has raised $1.3 million in crowdfunding backed by $1.1 million in MEDC matching grants in program’s first year.

It’s a fundraising model that is accelerating public placemaking efforts statewide.  

Launched last June, Public Spaces Community Places  is a ground-breaking crowdfunding and matching grant initiative transforming public space projects throughout Michigan. The initiative is a partnership among Michigan Economic Development Corporation, Michigan Municipal League, and crowdfunding platform, Patronicity. 

“Innovative place-making efforts help create thriving, sustainable and unique places where workers, entrepreneurs, and businesses want to locate, invest and expand,” said Governor Rick Snyder. “The ability to attract talent and grow businesses is greatly increased when we can take advantage of the unique downtown assets in each of our communities.” 

In slightly more than a year, Public Spaces Community Places has raised over $1.3 million from 5,453 donors. Contributions have come from across the state, from Detroit to Grand Rapids and Tecumseh to Ironwood. In turn, donations have been backed by $1.1 million in MEDC matching grants. 

“The ability to attract talent and grow businesses is greatly increased when we can take advantage of the unique downtown assets in each of our communities.” --Gov. Rick Snyder

 One of the first programs of its kind in the country, Public Spaces Community Places encourages local residents to be part of transformational projects in their communities, said MEDC CEO Steve Arwood. “Public Spaces Community Places is a tool communities can use to help create vibrant public spaces with the potential to bring new vitality to the community and serve as a catalyst for additional economic activity,” he said. 


Communities, non-profits and other business entities can submit projects and apply for a crowdfunding campaign through Patronicity with online donations being raised from community members, residents, and general supporters. Projects meeting fundraising goals would then receive a matching grant from MEDC of up to $150,000.    

The program’s success rate is 97 percent with 39 out of 40 campaigns reaching or surpassing their crowdfunding goal. Money has been raised for a range of development projects, including outdoor plaza, park enhancements and local theaters. Projects are reviewed and scored based on overall community impact and local financial commitment. 

Crowdfunding is transforming the approach to arts funding and community projects while empowering citizens, said Patronicity founder/CEO Chris Blauvelt. 

“This is grassroots-driven approach offers a model for how the government can best serve the needs and interests of the community.” 

VIDEO: https://vimeo.com/105657054

“This is a great way to leverage the pride residents and businesses have in their communities.” –-MEDC CEO Steve Arwood

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