Crowdfunding Campaign Launched for “Community Connect Center” in Big Rapids

MEDC Communications

Monday, June 17, 2024

$5,000 goal to win matching grant through MEDC’s Public Spaces Community Places initiative



LANSING, Mich. – The nonprofit Connect Church of Big Rapids will be transforming a vacant building downtown into a community center that will be used as a year-round farmers market and incubator space through the anticipated success of a crowdfunding campaign. The Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) and the Connect Church of Big Rapids announced the campaign today, which is being offered through the Michigan-based crowdfunding platform Patronicity.  

If the campaign reaches its crowdfunding goal of $5,000 by August 15th, 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:

“The Community Connect Center will create a needed space for gathering and communal events in Big Rapids,” said MEDC Regional Prosperity Managing Director Paula Holtz. “We are pleased to support and provide resources for this project through our Public Spaces Community Places program.” 

The location for the new Community Connect Center was an auto parts store that went out of business several years ago and has sat vacant since. This campaign completes the transformation of the space into a community center that will provide public services, events, and activities. This activation will include a year-round farmers market on Fridays and Saturdays, and pop-up shop space will be available throughout the year to let young entrepreneurs to test their products and maybe open their own storefront. The Community Connect Center will also provide space for free events like nutrition, cooking, and financial workshops all taught by local experts.  

The center has a commitment to providing local activities for individuals of all ages. There will be senior events like bingo and exercise classes, as well as after-school activities for children like woodworking and robotics. There will also be outreach programs for all of Mecosta County. There is a Celebrate Recovery program available for individuals with hurts, habits, and hang-ups. These classes are held under the guidance of trained counselors. The offerings at the space will grow to meet the needs of the community.  

“The Public Spaces Community Places Matching Grant Program has been instrumental in bringing our new community center, Community Connect to life. This funding not only supports the construction of a new wheelchair accessible restroom but also fosters a sense of unity among residents,” said Pastor Mark Robb of Connect Church and Community Connect. “We're excited to see the positive impact this center will have on our community's well-being and growth. The construction of the new restroom will allow us to offer more activities to the community such as Celebrate Recovery, Senior and Kids activities, and spaces for pop-up shops. We are very blessed to be a recipient of the MEDC’s PSCP Grant.” 

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 Community Connect Center will not only breathe new life into a building that was vacant, but also create a lasting, positive impact in the Big Rapids area,” said Dan Gilmartin, CEO and Executive Director of the Michigan Municipal League. “This project will provide support for the community’s current and future needs, from hosting a year-round farmers market to cultivating ideas for entrepreneurs. These are the kinds of projects our communities need to thrive and foster connection.” 

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 June 13, 2024, MEDC has provided more than $12.7 million in matching grants. Since the launch of the program, 379 projects have been successful in reaching their goal, with more than $14.7 million raised from 71,013 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.