Crowdfunding campaign launched for the ‘Dennis S. Smith Park-National Fitness Court’ project in Grand Blanc

Friday, February 3, 2023

$50,000 goal to win matching grant through MEDC’s Public Spaces Community Places initiative

LANSING, Mich. – The city of Grand Blanc plans to create a new public park behind City Hall on High Street to honor the city’s first fire chief, Dennis S. Smith, who passed away in June 2022. This effort will be completed through the anticipated success of a crowdfunding campaign, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) and city of Grand Blanc announced today. The campaign is being offered through the Michigan-based crowdfunding platform Patronicity.

If the campaign reaches its crowdfunding goal of $50,000 by April 4, 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:

“This new park will offer a free public fitness program to community members of all ages, while honoring a local hero in Grand Blanc,” said MEDC Executive Vice President of Economic Development Incentives Michele Wildman. “We are pleased to support and provide resources for this project through our Public Spaces Community Places program.”


The city chose a special place to honor Dennis Smith and the city's police officers, firefighters, and department of public works employees. The park space is behind City Hall between the Police Station and the Fire Station at 200 High Street in the heart of the downtown among mature trees and sidewalks. Currently, the space for the Dennis S. Smith Park is an underused grass-filled area.

This campaign will allow the city to activate the space with a fitness-oriented park which when completed will include public art and seating as well. Dennis S. Smith was the city’s first fire chief and decided to come out of retirement and create the City of Grand Blanc's first fire department. Chief Smith administratively built the fire department from the inside out and from the bottom up. The National Fitness Court® addition was the first amenity selected for the Dennis S. Smith Park, which will be a vibrant public space for the residents and visitors of Grand Blanc.

“The MEDC’s Public Spaces Community Places matching grant program will bring a National Fitness Court ® to the new Dennis S. Smith Park in the city of Grand Blanc,” said Wendy L. Jean-Buhrer, City Manager to the City of Grand Blanc. “The National Fitness ® will be the first court in Genesee County and will be a beacon for fitness enthusiasts in the City of Grand Blanc. The city looks forward to building the National Fitness Court ® and helping our residents and visitors get healthier.”

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 Michigan Municipal League is a firm believer in the importance of building community wealth,” said Dan Gilmartin, CEO and Executive Director of the League. “This new park and fitness court will improve the human experience for generations to come in the Grand Blanc community. This is what community wealth building is all about.”

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, 2023, MEDC has provided more than $11.2 million in matching grants. Since the launch of the program, 337 projects have been successful in reaching their goal, with $12.8 million raised from 62,072 individual donors. Communities have a 97 percent success rate in achieving their goals and earning matching funds.

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.