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Michiganians should be more familiar with crowdfunding than their peers — after all, theirs is one of only several states in the Union to pass equity crowdfunding legislation.
Now, Michigan’s officials are hoping that residents of their state will channel their crowdfunding know-how to another cause: helping the state fund public space projects.
Last week, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) announced that it has partnered up with the Michigan Municipal League and the crowdfunding platform Patronicity to finance parks, alley reconstructions, trails, plazas, and the like. The initiative, named Public Spaces Community Places, can help in not only funding the projects, but also identifying community interest in specific renovation projects.
For its part, the MEDC will provide matching grants for the rewards-based campaigns that are able to reach their goal.
“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 Finney in a statement. “This is a great way to leverage the pride residents and businesses have in their communities.”
There’s a pilot campaign — the Green Alley Project — on Patronicity currently raising funds to renovate an alleyway in Detroit. Midtown Detroit Inc., the nonprofit behind the campaign, hopes that the renewed space will lead to increased foot traffic, and encourage businesses to open up. The $50,000 campaign has received over $9000 thus far, with over three weeks left to go in the campaign.
The MEDC also hopes that initiative can promote citizen participation in local projects, something that can build stronger ties among neighbors.
“We want communities to be engaged on a local level so that their residents have the ability to personally invest in the projects they want to see accomplished,” said Katharine Czarnecki, director of community development for MEDC.
Public Spaces Community Places will not begin accepting applications from those interested in participating until a week from today. The projects will all be screened for things like potential impact and any other funding commitments.
This isn’t the first initiative that combines crowdfunding with local development. In the past, we’ve written about Citizinvestor pairing up with the city of Philadelphia, and Neighbor.ly has done work in this space, too; it's also happening abroad.
Public Spaces Community Places is a lucrative program that can have a meaningful impact across the state of Michigan. Let’s hope Michiganians are comfortable enough with crowdfunding to help the projects succeed.