What makes a place great?



A s the Flint & Genesee Chamber of Commerce builds upon its talent strategies in 2020, it’s imperative that we support initiatives that keep that talent here. And one way we can do that is by asking, “What makes a place great?”

According to the nonprofit organization Project for Public Spaces, it helps for a destination to have at least 10 things to do there. Dubbed the Power of 10+, this concept “comes down to offering a variety of things to do in one spot—making a place more than the sum of its parts.”

Let’s look at Physician’s Park in Grand Blanc, for example. You might take the kids to the jungle gym or host a birthday party in the gazebo. Take your dog for a walk or sit on a bench while reading a book. In the winter, go ice-skating. In the summer, check out the Grand Blanc Art Fair or the “Music in the Park” series. If you practice yoga, bring your mat for some outdoor stretching. Feeling hungry? Eateries like Ziggy’s and the Hot Dog Stand are within walking distance. And, starting in June, there’s the farmers market.

This is just one location in one city in our county. But for those who use its amenities, it’s likely they return time and time again to experience different elements of the park.

The same can be said for other destinations in Genesee County; there are all kinds of placemaking efforts that build community pride and encourage people to gather. The 100+ murals recently installed through the Flint Public Art Project have been the setting of many Instagram photos. And visitors and residents alike are learning about local trails through interactive maps created by the Genesee County Metropolitan Planning Commission, Terrain360 and I-69 Thumb Region. (To check it out, visit gcmpc.org/nonmotorized and select “360-Degree Trail Imagery.”)

For more about what’s happening locally, I encourage you to follow @exploreflint on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

To support placemaking initiatives in Genesee County and the greater region, the I-69 Thumb Region is inviting municipalities/government organizations and nonprofits to apply for grant funding to implement small, impactful projects that encourage and contribute to a stronger sense of place.

Projects can range from physical upgrades to internal municipal systems and process improvements. They might include installing wayfinding signs or updating a website so it’s easier to secure permits to host an event.

The Placemaking Mini-Grant program—which will award at least 15 grants of up to $2,000 each— is funded with financial support from the Michigan Economic Development Corp. to the I-69 Thumb Region. This includes the Flint & Genesee Chamber, Economic Development Alliance of St. Clair County, Genesee County Metropolitan Planning Commission, Lapeer Development Corp., Sanilac & Huron County Economic Development Corp., Shiawassee Economic Development Corp. and Tuscola County Economic Development Corp.

For an application, contact Tracy Joseph at 810-600-1406 or tjoseph@flintandgenesee.org.

Kristina Johnston is the COO of the Flint & Genesee Chamber of Commerce.