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News Release

Consumers Energy Foundation Announces $50,000 for Winners of the Put Your Town on the Map Competition

Jackson, Mich. Friday, May 20, 2022

Awards for Big Rapids, Gaylord, and Hart will help complete community projects

Michigan communities in Mecosta, Otsego, and Oceana counties are receiving a total of $50,000 through the Consumers Energy Foundation’s 2022 Put Your Town on the Map pitch competition. The city of Big Rapids received $25,000 for first place, Gaylord received $15,000 as runner-up, and Hart received $10,000 after submitting ideas for projects that will help strengthen and grow their communities.

“Consumers Energy recognizes that Michigan’s small and rural towns may not have the same access as larger cities to resources to support projects in their communities.  That is why we are so proud to celebrate the big ideas from our small towns and champion the Put Your Town on the Map contest,” said Brandon Hofmeister, president of the Consumers Energy Foundation. “These winning projects will help transform and grow their communities, and we look forward to celebrating with them once the projects are complete.”

The winning projects are:

  • The city of Big Rapids  First place, $25,000: The Big Rapids Skatepark Project will provide the city with the most colorful, welcoming, modernized skatepark in northern Michigan. Along with the skatepark’s development, staff are exploring expanding public art with skateable art, a graffiti wall, and unique sculptures.
  • The city of Gaylord – Second place, $15,000: The funding will be used to address a three-block blighted alleyway and develop Art in the Alley Way to connect the Gaylord Gateway Trailhead to Claude Shannon Park. Art in the Alley Way will be a year-round social gathering place that supports street art exhibitions complete with murals, a place to highlight local artists’ work, waste receptacles, lighting, and benches.
  • The city of Hart – Third place, $10,000: With the goal of bringing more visitors to their downtown, Hart recently started an initiative called The Hart Project. Its mission is to “put the art in Hart.” They are working to host a large art event, install 25 murals by 2025, and build a 20-foot tin man sculpture holding a huge heart in downtown Hart.

"We are so grateful to be receiving this funding from the Consumers Energy Foundation Pitch Competition because it allows us to move ahead with phase one developments for the skatepark,” said Jessie Black, Big Rapids Community Economic Development Specialist. “As a newly designated Pure Michigan Trail Town, adding a cutting edge skatepark along the city’s Riverwalk trail is great for the local skaters/BMXers and other outdoor enthusiasts coming to visit."

A panel of judges chose the three winning projects on Wednesday, May 18 after officials from the 10 finalist communities made presentations at the 2022 Small Town and Rural Development Conference led by the Community Economic Development Association of Michigan (CEDAM).

The Put Your Town on the Map competition started in 2019 to reward ideas and provide critical dollars for projects that are being developed in small towns throughout Michigan’s lower peninsula. Communities with a population of up to 10,000 were eligible to apply.

The Consumers Energy Foundation is the charitable arm of Consumers Energy, Michigan’s largest energy provider. The Foundation enables communities to thrive and grow by investing in what’s most important to Michigan — its people, our planet, and Michigan’s prosperity. In 2021, the Consumers Energy Foundation, Consumers Energy, its employees, and retirees contributed over $17.5 million to Michigan nonprofits. For more information about the Consumers Energy Foundation, visit our Consumers Energy Foundation page.

Consumers Energy, Michigan’s largest energy provider, is the principal subsidiary of CMS Energy (NYSE: CMS), providing natural gas and/or electricity to 6.8 million of the state’s 10 million residents in all 68 Lower Peninsula counties.

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Media Contacts: Josh Paciorek, 517-243-9036, or Brian Wheeler, 517-740-1545