During the convention 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.



Legislative 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 trans­portation, municipal finance and federal issues.

Chris Hackbarth, Director, State Affiars, Michigan Municipal League
John LaMacchia, Legislative Associate, Michigan Municipal League
Nikole Brown, Legislative Associate, Michigan Municipal League
Summer Minnick, Director, External Relations & Federal Affairs, Michigan Municipal League

Artistic Expression in Communities

Art in its many and varied forms is an essential component of the sense of place in every community. In this session, you will learn about the benefits of public art as well as some statewide initiatives to promote further artistic expression. You’ll also hear from two local communities with a serious commitment to investing in the arts, and the creative ways they have found to fund such projects. 

Michael Brown, Community Development Director, City of Ironwood
Sarah Triplett, Director of Public Policy, Creative Many
Nathan Triplett, East Lansing Mayor & V.P., Michigan Municipal League Board of Trustees

Crowdfunding Comes of Age

Crowdfunding as a means of investing in both public spaces and entrepreneurial ventures has been gaining ground in Michigan. In this session, we’ll examine the League’s efforts to promote crowdfunding, and introduce you to two entrepreneurs whose focus is helping other entrepreneurs and small business owners realize their dreams through investment crowdfunding. You’ll also get an up-to-date review of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation’s successful Public Spaces Community Places crowdfunding initiative.

Jeff Aranoff, Founder, Sidewalk Ventures
Angela Barbash, Founder, ReConsider
Katharine Czarnecki, Director, Community Development, Michigan Economic Development Corporation
Summer Minnick, Director, External Relations & Federal Affairs, Michigan Municipal League



Municipal Use of Technology

Learn how technology can help streamline operations, engage the public, boost employee morale, reduce costs and waste, and propel communities forward.

Public Safety Special Assessments

A legacy of the great recession is that many communities are struggling to provide necessary funding for core services. One little known option for cities under 15,000 people is a public safety special assessment. This session will explore the legal requirements and considerations surrounding this revenue option.

Hot Topics

Details coming soon



Mobile Workshops

The League wants you to see all the amazing things happening in Traverse City. So this year, included with the cost of your registration, we are offering a number of mobile workshops.


Downtown Traverse CityDiscover Downtown Traverse City

Downtown Traverse City has grown from a sleepy tourist town to a vibrant regional center and national destination. Learn how simply focusing on the needs and wants of residents and businesses provided the basis for a progressive downtown vision. On this walking tour, you will experience downtown’s three districts, its evolving waterfront, and end up in the heart of fantastic shopping and dining!



Revitalizing a Downtown District

Traverse City, like most cities, has a section of the downtown that has been somewhat forgotten. On this walking tour of the city, you’ll get a first-hand look at the active steps the city is taking to revitalize this district and make it relevant to residents and visitors alike. You’ll also get the details on the League’s exciting Traverse City PlacePlans project, a joint effort of the League and MSU, funded through the MIPlace Initiative. Stops include Space, Traverse City’s cool coworking spot, the Traverse City Bumpout project, and new commercial and residential developments. The last stop is Workshop Brewing Co., where you can enjoy a fresh craft beer for just a few bucks.

sleeping-bear-dunes-200x160Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park

On a guided tour, you’ll experience the natural wonders along the 7-mile Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive, with spectacular overlooks of Lake Michigan, Glen Lake, and the Sleeping Bear Dunes. There will be several stops along the way so you can get out and take pictures of the breathtaking scenery. A fabulous boxed lunch will be provided for the ride to the park.



Grand-Traverse-Commons-200x160Grand Traverse Commons Preservation & Reuse

The Village at Grand Traverse Commons is one of the largest historic preservation and adaptive reuse redevelopments in the country currently underway. The Village is the unique renovation of dozens of historic buildings formerly known as the Traverse City State Hospital. Presenters will fill you in on the history and redevelopment of the buildings, followed by a tour. You’ll even have time to visit some of the village’s new shops.


State-Theatre-200x160Theaters at the Heart of the Community

On this walking tour, you’ll get a behind-the-curtains look at the historic State Theater, beautifully restored in 2007 and now home to the Traverse City Film Festival. If the renovation schedule permits, you’ll also get an up-close look at Old Town Playhouse, which offers quality community theatre experiences. Along the way, you’ll hear how civic engagement and volunteerism have helped keep these theaters a vital part of Traverse City’s cultural scene. Lunch will be at InsideOut Gallery.



Bike the Traverse City Trails

A recent study found that bicycling contributes $668 million to Michigan’s economy each year. If you have a trail system in your community – or would like to develop one – you’ll learn how communities all across Michigan are using the “Trail Town” approach to support new opportunities for community and economic development. You’ll also learn about recently passed legislation aimed at helping communities become more trail friendly. Along the ride, you’ll see first-hand how Traverse City has become a premier trail-friendly community with impressive economic results.  Attendees are encouraged to bring their own bikes, but bikes will be provided.  Lunch will be at North Peak Restaurant.


Works in Progress: How to Size up Your Placemaking Opportunities

Take a walk with Richard Murphy, a League staffer and accomplished planner, to view Traverse City’s 8th Street corridor at the edge of downtown. Murph will help you view this area–a work in progress–though a planner’s eyes. Participants will learn how small details can have a big impact on how space is perceived, used, and ultimately valued. This will be a fun, unstructured conversation aimed at helping you think critically (in the most constructive way!) about how physical design can improve the human experience, including practical solutions to common design challenges. After this walk with Murph, you won’t ever view a sidewalk the same!



The City Shaped

Joe Minicozzi, Principal, Urban3, will follow up from his keynote presentation.

The Future of Local Governement

James Freed, City Manager, Port Huron, will follow up from his keynote presentation.

The Urban Consulate

Claire Nelson, Knight Foundation, will follow up from her keynote presentation.