2019 Pitch Competition Grants     

New this year for the 2019 CEDAM Small Town & Rural Development conference, Consumers Energy is hosting a session for communities to pitch ideas that will help put their community on the map. We are seeking innovative ideas that will help energize your town and create momentum that builds a stronger sense of community. If your submitted idea is selected, you will be invited to present to a panel of judges Wednesday morning. The top three presentations will be awarded one of three grants:

  • First Place: $7,500
  • Second Place: $5,000
  • Third Place: $2,500

2019 Finalists

Port Austin – Placemaking project to develop a vacant lot in the center of town into an interactive and dynamic space where tourists and community members will gather, interact, and be entertained

Village of Pentwater – Provide an Automated Bike Share Release Station for a bike share program

Village of Quincy – Help construct a popup retail marketing venue (Market 1858)

Village of Shelby – Renovate an alleyway to connect the downtown with the William Field Memorial Hart-Montague Trail that runs directly behind the downtown storefronts

West Branch – Host a rodeo in downtown West Branch

Village of Spring Lake – Commission local artists paint murals on the back of downtown businesses which face the Lakeside Trail

Sparta – Create small incubator space locations that will allow them to bring small, start-up businesses to life in downtown Sparta

Groveland Township – To bring back branding for their section of the Dixie Highway, and promote it as Oakland County’s Recreational Byway

Greenville – An interactive art contest that local artists, the community, and local manufacturers can participate in, with the proceeds going to a local nonprofit

City of Stanton – Connect City of Stanton downtown with the Fred Meijer Heartland Trailhead by putting biking amenities at the trailhead and downtown, creating a picnic area, and placing way-finding signs

Qualifications for Submissions

  • Representatives of rural municipalities with a population of up to approximately 10,000
  • Representatives of the municipality could be local government, non-profit (501c3), chamber of commerce or a type of similar group
  • This competition is community-focused; no individuals, businesses, corporations or LLCs
  • You must be able to present your idea at the 2019 Small Town and Rural Development Conference at Crystal Mountain in Thompsonville, Mich. on the morning of April 17, 2019 (registration required)
  • Idea presented must be conceptual or in the startup phase; previously attempted projects not permitted
  • Community must be in the Consumers Energy gas or electric service territory (view map at https://www.consumersenergy.com/company/what-we-do/service-territories)
  • One submission per community/municipality

2019 Pitch Competition Schedule

  • March 1: Submissions due to CEDAM by 11:59 p.m.
  • March 8: Finalists selected and notified
  • March 29: PowerPoint presentations due to CEDAM—If your idea is selected to pitch, your digital presentation in PowerPoint format must be sent to acmoody@cedamichigan.org by 11:59 pm on Friday, March 29. At this point, all presentations are final and no changes can be made.
  • April 17: Pitch presentations held during the morning conference session

How to Submit Your Idea

Complete the online form and click submit to complete

Sample Topics to Put Your Community on the Map

  • Downtowns – store vacancies, attracting visitors, housing, etc.
  • Social – housing, education, employment, etc.
  • Youth community engagement
  • Tourism
  • Community pride
  • Unifying the community; strengthening the community
  • Placemaking
  • Business acceleration, retention, attraction, etc.

Presentation Guidelines

If your community is selected to make a pitch, the following guidelines must be followed at the Wednesday morning session:

  • You will have 5 minutes to pitch your idea
  • You will need to register for the conference at: rural.cedamichigan.org/conference/
  • A/V equipment is not required, but if it is used it must be in PowerPoint format — no audio, video or web-based formats allowed
  • Presentations can be made by a group of community representatives, or a single person
  • Presentation should include answers to the following questions:
  • What gives your community rural character?
  • How does your idea put your community on the map?
  • How is your project unique to your community?
  • Who are you collaborating with in your community?
  • How will you use the funding?
  • There will be no Q & A after the presentation
  • Judges will deliberate after all presentations and pick the winners; CEDAM and Consumers Energy reserve the right to remove any presenters from the competition at any time for any reason
  • If you drop out after being selected to present, CEDAM and Consumers Energy reserve the right to select an alternate community to take your place

Judging Criteria

Projects presented will be judged based on the following criteria:

  • Probability project will be launched and sustained over time
  • Degree of innovation and potential to disrupt the status quo
  • Community collaboration with a strong public/private component
  • Demonstrated energy to build momentum and engage the community
  • Likelihood project will be replicated in other rural communities
  • Community served by Consumers Energy

Winners of the grants will be selected and announced by the judges following the pitch competition. Grant funds will be presented to winning communities at a scheduled time following the 2019 Small Town and Rural Development Conference.

For more information, contact acmoody@cedamichigan.org.

View the contest rules