Crowdfunding campaign launched for Soo Locks Plaza

Monday, February 8, 2021

$7,500 goal to win matching grant through MEDC’s Public Spaces Community Places initiative

LANSING, Mich. – Sault St. Marie will be gaining an enhanced outdoor center for learning through a new crowdfunding campaign, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and Soo Locks Visitor Center Association announced today. The campaign is being offered through the Michigan-based crowdfunding platform Patronicity.

If the campaign reaches its crowdfunding goal of $7,500 by March 10, the project will win a matching grant with funds made possible by MEDC’s Public Spaces Community Places program. For project details and to donate, please visit:

“Activating underused spaces and preserving significant historical assets are important ways to create a sense of place, engaging residents and visitors alike,” said MEDC Senior Vice President of Community Development Michele Wildman. “We are pleased to support and provide resources for this effort through our Public Spaces Community Places program.”

For decades the park at the Soo Locks has featured two historic lock models hidden in plain sight. The Soo Lock Visitor Center Association intends to use these models built more than 100 years ago to transform a paved area near the MacArthur Lock into “Soo Locks Plaza,” a center for learning and inspiration. Interpretive exhibits will share the stories of the models themselves and the locks they depict, preserving and illustrating the history and future of the Soo Locks for millions of visitors.

This campaign will complete the new exhibits and transform the plaza into an outdoor museum. These improvements will turn this area into a center of learning for school groups and visitors, allowing them to get a bird’s eye view of the vast facility to better understand how it operates.

“I was as surprised as anyone to find out that two models that have been at the Soo Locks Park forever are historic artifacts. I feel it’s our duty as the Soo Locks Visitor Center Association and as a community as a whole to help preserve these models so they’re here for another 150 years and beyond,” said Linda Hoath, vice president of the Soo Locks Visitor Center Association. “We have raised a lot of funds already, and we have a little further to go to make sure our campaign is successful. Our goal is to restore the models and add more exhibits to help people learn about the history and future of the Soo Locks. Our hope is that visitors and citizens of Sault Ste. Marie will be able to learn and be inspired by the engineering marvel that is the Soo Locks for generations to come.”

Public Spaces Community Places is a collaborative effort of the MEDC, the Michigan Municipal League, and Patronicity, in which local residents can use crowdfunding to be part of the development of strategic projects in their communities and be backed with a matching grant from MEDC. Communities, nonprofits and other business entities can apply at

“The Soo Locks is without a doubt one of Michigan’s gems,” said Dan Gilmartin, CEO and Executive Director of the Michigan Municipal League. “The plan for this enhanced outdoor learning center will greatly benefit this existing asset and with the public’s support will become a source of pride for hopefully another century or more.”

The Public Spaces Community Places initiative started in 2014 with MEDC providing matched funding of up to $50,000 for community improvement projects throughout Michigan. As of Jan. 31, 2021, MEDC has provided more than $8.2 million in matching grants. Since the launch of the program, 261 projects have been successful in reaching their goal, with $9.5 million raised from 46,672 individual donors.

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.