April 17, 2013IMLAY CITY — Imlay City's SEED Group is the recipient of the Michigan Municipal's League's Community Excellence Award for Michigan's Thumb region, Region 5.
As the regional winner at the MML's 2013 Capital Conference in Lansing on Tuesday, April 9, Imlay City is one of seven Michigan communities eligible for the statewide CEA award to be presented in September at the League's annual Convention in Detroit.
Matt Bach, MML Media Relations Director, said the the Community Excellence Award is the highest honor awarded by the League.
"The CEA program," said Bach, "is affectionately called 'The Race to the Cup,' which was started in 2007 to recognize innovative solutions taking place in Michigan's cities, villages and townships."
Bach noted other Region 5 entries included Lexington's "tradition of volunteerism" and Harbor Beach's "interpretive sign project.'
Imlay City's SEED Group, an acronym for Small business, Entrepreneurs and Economic Development, was formed in October of 2010, with the goal of planting seeds for economic growth and development.
The SEED Group has been working to accomplish that growth through the coordination of networking events, educational workshops and regularly scheduled "entrepreneur meet-ups."
Current Imlay City SEED Group members include: City Manager Wayne O'Neal, Chamber of Commerce Director Dana Walker; DDA Director Kim Marrone; and business leaders, Paul LaFontaine, Imlay City Ford; Walt Bargen, Lapeer County Bank & Trust; and Randy Jorgensen, Tri-City Times and Woods-N-Waters News.
City officials acknowledged the community's business leaders for their involvement and ongoing input in the program.
"The goal (of SEED) is to position Imlay City so that the creation of jobs will be sustainable," said O'Neal. "We want Imlay City to continue to be a desirable place for the citizens of our community."
O'Neal added that the award represents a feather-in-the-cap for the city, which additionally benefits from an enhanced public perception.
"I think our peers recognize that although we are a small community, we are well positioned for growth," said O'Neal. "We're on the cutting edge of economic development and re-development.
"We're ready right now to accommodate new industry, whether it be large or small," he continued. "We're ready for it and we welcome it."
Imlay City Mayor Margaret Guerrero-Deluca agreed with O'Neal's assessment.
"This is a great opportunity to expand our economic development and to increase the entrepreneurs in the Thumb area," she said.
Imlay City's SEED Group was previously honored in October 2012, as a "Top Performing Community" by researchers at iLabs, University of Michigan-Dearborn's Center for Innovative Research.
The Group was acknowledged last year for "fostering the entrepreneurial spirit while bolstering existing businesses by providing helpful tools and resources."
Tom Wearing started at the Tri-City Times in 1989, covering the Village of Capac as a beat reporter. He later served stints as assistant editor and editor. Today, he covers Imlay City and Almont as a staff writer. He enjoys music and plays drums and sings with various musical groups in the Detroit Metropolitan area.