Blog‎ > ‎

A Kickstarter for Michigan communities? MEDC crowdfunding effort targets public spaces

posted Jun 26, 2014, 1:24 AM by Siamak Ebarhimi
LANSING, MI -- Want to transform a neglected alley into a public path? Turn local land into an "edible" gathering space? Fix up a bike path or add sculpture art to an outdoor plaza?

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation on Wednesday announced what it called a "groundbreaking crowdfunding" initiative that will help communities, non-profits and business entities raise money for local public space projects and provide matching grants to up to $100,000 to those that meet their own goals.crowdfunding marketing

“Innovative placemaking efforts help create thriving, sustainable and unique places where workers, entrepreneurs, and businesses want to locate, invest and expand,” Gov. Rick Snyder said in a statement. “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.”crowdfunding advertising

Public Spaces Community Places is a collaboration between the MEDC, the Michigan Municipal League and Patronicity, a Detroit-based crowdfunding site that seeks to do for local communities what Kickstarter did for the arts -- providing tools to promote ideas and a space to solicit online donations.

"Kickstarter raised more than a billion dollars in its first five years for creative projects," said Patronicity co-founder Chris Blauvelt. "How cool would it be to have that same sort of impact at the community level? Maybe not billions, but a million a year raised for local initiatives in Detroit and throughout Michigan? That idea got me inspired to start Patronicity."indiegogo marketing

The open application process will begin on July 9. MEDC and partners will score each submission based on a number of factors, including community impact and local financial commitment, and winning projects will go up online.

There, anyone in the world can pledge a contribution dependent on the project meeting its full funding goal, which would also result in matching money from the MEDC, which plans to spend up to $720,000 on projects this year.kickstarter marketing

"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,” MEDC President and CEO Michael A. Finney said in a statement. "This is a great way to leverage the pride residents and businesses have in their communities."

Patronicity launched last year and help crowdfund a number of local projects, including an "Edible Hut" in Detroit's Osborn neighborhood. A local group transformed a public park into a community space with a "living" gazebo. The roof is used to grow edible perennials.kickstarter project

For the new crowdfunding partnership, MEDC selected a "Green Alley" pilot project proposed by Midtown Detroit Inc.. The non-profit is seeking to transform an alley near Seldon and Second for a walkable path with rain gardens, historic brick, LED lighting, native landscaping and improved drainage.

Shinola Detroit has already pledged $100,000 for the $200,000 project. Midtown Inc. is seeking to raise $50,000 through online crowdfunding, and if it meets its goal by July 25, MEDC will pitch in another $50,000.CrowdFunding advertizing

Like Kickstarter, contributors get something back for giving to the Green Alley project. A $25 donation is good for a postcard of the completed project, $1,000 or more will get you a sponsor plaque. But the effort will need broad support in order to move forward.

"What's nice about crowdfunding is it's democratic," said Blauvelt. "You can get help, but you're required to raise half your goal. It's not just the project with the best grant writer, it's the one that can show the community is behind them."CrowdFunding marketing

The collaborative crowdfunding effort for local public space projects is believed to be the first of its kind in the country. More information is available, a site launched by the Michigan Municipal League earlier this month.

"The League firmly believes in the crowdfunding movement as a way to not only help our communities, but by driving Michigan's economy forward," said spokesperson Matt Bach. "This will help communities, which are close to our heart, who want to improve a vacant lot, alley or public space but haven't had the funding."Kickstarter Marketing

Posted from:

By David Khorram