Groundbreaking crowdfunding/matching grant initiative to help Michigan communities create vibrant public spaces

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) today announced a groundbreaking crowdfunding and matching grant initiative to help drive public space projects in Michigan communities.

LANSING, Mich. – The Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) today announced a groundbreaking crowdfunding and matching grant initiative to help drive public space projects in Michigan communities. 

“Innovative placemaking 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.”

Public Spaces Community Places, a collaborative effort of MEDC, the Michigan Municipal League, and Michigan-based crowdfunding platform Patronicity, is the first program of its kind in the country where local residents can be part of the development of transformational projects in their communities and be backed with a matching grant from MEDC. 

The open application process begins July 9 at 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 $100,000. 

“Public Spaces Community Places is a new 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,” said MEDC President and CEO Michael A. Finney. “This is a great way to leverage the pride residents and businesses have in their communities.” 

The League designed as a one-stop website for all the crowdfunding needs of Michigan businesses, investors and communities. It provides resources, how-to information and links to crowdfunding resources. 

“We are extremely excited to partner with MEDC and Patronicity to accelerate crowdfunding opportunities for Michigan communities,” said Daniel Gilmartin, CEO and executive director of the Michigan Municipal League. “No other state agency in the nation is doing what MEDC is doing. Its commitment to Michigan communities is unprecedented. We firmly believe this program will inspire and assist communities of all shapes and sizes to take on and complete projects they previously could only dream about.”

The program is available for projects that focus on activation of public spaces such as an outdoor plaza or park enhancements and that have established public awareness and momentum. MEDC, the League, and Patronicity will review and score potential projects based on a number of factors including overall community impact and local financial commitment. 

“Crowdfunding has had an incredible impact on the arts in America over the last five years, and with Patronicity we hope to replicate that impact in local communities and public spaces,” said Patronicity Founder & CEO Chris Blauvelt. “This partnership with MEDC is exciting on many levels, but none more so that through crowdfunding MEDC is empowering everyday citizens to have a dramatic impact on their communities. It’s grassroots and government all at once, and we hope a model for how the government can best serve the needs and interests of the community.” 

MEDC selected Midtown Detroit Inc.’s Green Alley Project on Selden & Second as the Public Spaces Community Places pilot project. Midtown Detroit is working with Patronicity to raise $50,000 through crowdfunding to transform the 415-foot-long alley bound by Second Ave., Selden, the Third Ave. Alley, and Alexandrine. Alley enhancements will include a new design to promote walkability and community connectivity and green infrastructure upgrades to reduce the storm water burden on the city’s combined sewer system.

The total cost of the project is $200,000. Detroit-based Shinola has contributed a $100,000 grant. If the project meets its crowdfunding goal, MEDC will provide a matching grant of $50,000. 

Details of the Green Alley Project on Selden & Second and a video can be viewed at

“The idea of creating something sustainable and impactful for the community, like the Selden & Second Green Alley, out of something so blighted, has really resonated in the Midtown community. The partnership with the MEDC on their new Public Spaces Community Places initiative through Patronicity's crowdfunding platform allows us to utilize a new tool to further engage our local community and leverage dollars already granted by Shinola,” said Susan T. Mosey, president, Midtown Detroit Inc. “We are excited to be the pilot for this new initiative not only for our project but for the others that will follow.”

About Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC)

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation is the state’s marketing arm and lead advocate for business development, job awareness and community development with the focus on growing Michigan’s economy. For more information on the MEDC and our initiatives, visit For Pure Michigan® tourism information, your trip begins at Join the conversation on: Facebook Instagram LinkedIn, and Twitter.