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Lakes to Land Regional Initiative Receives Award for Excellence

18-Aug-2014

LAKES TO LAND REGIONAL INITIATIVE RECEIVES AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE

MANISTEE AND FRANKFORT, MICHIGAN – The Michigan Association of Planning (MAP) has awarded the Lakes to Land Regional Initiative with the 2014 Planning Excellence Award for Innovation in Regional Planning, one of the most prestigious awards for collaborative planning among communities. 

The award will be formally bestowed at MAP’s Planning Excellence Awards on October 8, 2014 at the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island.

The community-driven, volunteer-led Lakes to Land Regional Initiative encompassed 18 governmental units in Manistee and Benzie Counties, including the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians.  The purpose of the Initiative was for participating local governments to work in unison to update their master plans and identify shared priorities.     The firm Beckett & Raeder, with offices in Ann Arbor, Traverse City and Petoskey, was unanimously selected by a leadership team from participating communities to support completion of what is thought to be the largest collaborative planning effort ever undertaken in the State.  The Alliance for Economic Success, an economic development organization servicing Manistee County and surrounding areas, provided fiduciary support and facilitation.

“Just as the award is a high honor so has it been a privilege to be part of what may be the largest and most successful collaborative effort of its kind in Michigan,” said John Iacoangeli, Partner with Beckett & Raeder.  “The bottom up approach for identifying community needs and priorities was the vital ingredient that made the process and the plans relevant, inspiring strong community participation and leadership.   There will be no dust collecting on these plans as communities are chomping at the bit to get moving.”

“From the outset, the Lakes to Land effort was focused on unifying communities around these plans in place to serve as blueprints for their future so that we can proceed collectively with implementation steps,” said Brad Hopwood, Co-Chair of the Initiative and Chair of the Arcadia Township Planning Commission.   “Even as we celebrate the award and express gratitude to MAP’S Board of Directors, we are moving forward with implementation and action.”

Hopwood said that implementation efforts to date include the development of model ordinances to serve multiple communities, the development of a food innovation district, pursuit of Heritage Trail designation for M-22 in Benzie and Manistee Counties and collaboration with a college in coordinating delivery of leadership and capacity building training and education for the region.  He said that State and Federal departments, private foundations, educational institutions and others will be invited to join in a strategy for collective action to help all communities achieve their goals and priorities.

“This is a fitting, wonderful tribute to so many people and organizations,” said Monica Schultz, also a Co-Chair of the Initiative.   “Hundreds of community members, local officials, planning commission members and people on the Initiative’s leadership team should be proud to know that this award is about them and their perseverance to provide direction and vision for our communities and region to move forward.”