In August 2018, the third Call-for-Projects was announced by the WMPA. As a result, 13 projects from throughout the 13-county region were submitted with a total funding request of more than $448,000.
On October 10th, the WMPA hosted its third Public Engagement and Grant Award Meeting. Approximately 85 people attended the meeting which was held at Fifth Third Ballpark. The purpose of the meeting was to listen to presentations on the top six projects and vote to prioritize those six projects. Once the six project presentations were complete, attendees were able to use electronic voting equipment to prioritize the top
Below are the final rankings:
1. West Michigan Express Pilot Project: The West Michigan Express initiative is a collaborative effort to link the seven communities along the Chicago Drive corridor with express public transportation options beginning with bus service and leading to commuter rail for the purpose of enhancing economic growth and quality of life in the region.
2. Sustainable Watershed Funding: The purpose of this project is to generate sustainable financial resources to protect the water quality of Lake Michigan so it remains a major economic asset; to increase funding for watershed partners to implement watershed improvement projects; and to implement existing, federally improved watershed management plans.
3. West Michigan Research Network – 2020 Census: The WMRN will assist to educate and inform municipal leaders as well as historically undercounted and vulnerable populations on the importance of the upcoming 2020 Census through marketing and promotional materials.
4. Green Infrastructure Training for West Michigan: The purpose of this project is the implementation of a Green Infrastructure Certification program at Grand Rapids Community College that will focus on construction, inspection and maintenance of green infrastructure.
5. LEAD Trails Soft Implementation: The vision of this project is a trail for every season from the majestic sand dunes and light houses on Little and Big Sable Points to the immersive north woods of the Manistee National Forest. The project will assist in implementing and enhancing trail networks in Lake, Mason, Newaygo, and Oceana counties.
6. Pitch North: This project will provide an opportunity for entrepreneurs from Lake, Newaygo, and Oceana counties to participate in a pitch competition to support rural entrepreneurship and provide feedback, peer review, and validation of business ideas.