During Breakout Sessions, you will have the opportunity to choose from the list of topics shown below. Each session is designed to enhance your knowledge and provide you with ideas that you can take home and apply in your own community.


Natural Advantages: The Power of Parks, Heritage, and Outdoor Assets in the Place-Based Economy

The session will provide a blueprint for re-thinking and re-envisioning the role that parks and outdoor recreation assets play in community economic development. Panelists will provide context, data, and local examples of communities using their natural assets to rebrand themselves and attract and retain creative professional and talent-based businesses.


Placemaking Execution – Think/Act Like a Developer

Demographics are changing, markets are changing, and communities are changing. This is especially true for “place-based” development. So…should the planning-zoning system change as well? Research and practice show that market-analyzed, stakeholder-engaged, charrette-facilitated, development-oriented processes produce better projects, but can they also produce better master plans and codes? And if so, shouldn’t this be a standardized approach to Michigan communities? This provocative session will present a forum to discuss whether adapting a “developer”-focused approach is the future Michigan planning/regulatory model.


I Am Rural, Hear Me Roar

Oftentimes, smaller communities struggle to be heard in policy conversations and legislative decisions. Hear how a private-public economic development agency in the U.P. leverages the power of the broader region to be heard.


State & Federal Affairs Update

The League’s State and Federal Affairs team will discuss current issues and what’s on the horizon for the Legislature’s fall agenda including hot topics like EVIP, transportation, and federal issues.


Under the Weather: Economic Impacts of Unexpected Climate Changes

Have abnormal weather patterns got you down? The Marquette County Climate Adaptation Task Force is a group of elected officials, community stewards, leaders of the Superior Watershed Partnership, as well as municipal, township and county employees formed last year to discuss climate adaptation and the way recent weather patterns are impacting local units of government through unexpected costs, emergencies, and economic impacts to the region. Hear from members of the task force on how they work together regionally with all local units of government to stay proactive, collaborate, share resources, and jointly apply for grant funding.


Your Charter: Refreshed

Does your charter contain illegal or outdated provisions? Sometimes changes are needed to correct misleading, unreliable or unresponsive charters. Hear from members of the Marquette Charter Commission on how they successfully made changes to their charter. They had a goal of making revisions over the course of several years and ended up completing all of their changes in a year! The group held hearings, involved citizens and civic groups, and had assistance from the local newspaper. Hear what worked for them and how you can use their model to make successful revisions to your charter.


Civic Engagement as a Placemaking Strategy

Civic engagement is the best way to plan and implement placemaking and planning projects, but certainly not the easiest! Hear about effective engagement strategies from HUD Sustainable Communities projects, civic engagement best practices, and tools to help simplify the process.


Council/Manager Relationships

In the council/manager form of government, good working relationships are imperative. Roles and responsibilities of each position will be defined, and tips given on ways to develop positive relationships and dealing with differing personalities. In addition, hear from a former city manager and current/former councilmembers on how they made their relationships work.


Crowdfunding: Tapping into Local Investment Power

Investment crowdfunding is the newest economic development tool that can be used to transform local communities. Come learn about this exciting new opportunity, how your community can make the most of this mechanism, and what’s already been happening in Michigan! In addition, come learn about the MEDC’s new program to promote public spaces and community places through a reward crowdfunding platform. This latest matching grant program is the first of its kind, and local communities can use it to help launch projects to further their placemaking initiatives.