“Uncork Paw Paw” — Inspiration for Small Town Placemakers

Highlighting small town placemaking is always a pleasure for me. It proves that you don’t need to have a huge population base to use great techniques and strategies that make a community a great place to live, work and visit.

One such place is Paw Paw, Michigan, home to an historic downtown and a growing wine economy. By utilizing community assets in a way that leverages small business the village government and local economic developers provide a mix of grants, research, marketing and business development as part of a comprehensive strategic plan to lift the local economy. New events in the downtown and on the lake have all contributed to a branding strategy that contributes to the town’s unique sense of place and defines it as a Midwest Wine Country destination.

The results are nothing short of fantastic — 27 new businesses have opened, 43 businesses have been renovated or expanded, over $400,000 in grants have been distributed for everything from education and training to building facades and interior improvements — all in a village with a population just above 3,300.  And it is still going.

Here is a short video of Village Manager Larry Nielsen presenting the “Uncork Paw Paw” campaign at last fall’s Michigan Municipal League annual meeting. Enjoy.




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