WUPPDR’s Placemaking Grants Program assists Western Peninsula communities with placemaking efforts through a competitive grant program to create places where people want to live, work, play, shop and visit. The awards are intended to be strategic, high-impact investments in projects that appeal to a wide range of stakeholders and have the potential to enhance, increase access to, or create new amenities, entertainment, recreation, social interaction and diverse experiences.

The projects that have been chosen to receive the 2017 Placemaking Grants are:

  • The Copper Country Community Arts Center
    • The CCCAC will be installing a new mural on the side of their building, “block quilts” in two unoccupied storefronts on Quincy Street, and more murals on the Quincy Green space during the summer.
  • The village of Ontonagon’s Downtown Development Authority
    • Ontonagon’s DDA is using the funding to install signage for a downtown beach access point.

Projects funded in 2016:

  • Bergland Township; Welcome Signage
  • City of Ironwood; Downtown Art Park
  • Village of Ontonagon; Downtown Pocket Park
  • City of Hancock; Driving Park Memorial Signage
  • Village of L’Anse; Downtown Pocket Park
  • City of Houghton; Farmer’s Market
  • Hancock Finnish Theme Committee; Live Music at the Tori Market


What is Placemaking?

Placemaking is a community-based approach to the planning, design and management of spaces that have local and regional importance. It involves the discovery and implementation of practices that make our communities distinctive, economically viable, accessible, and visually pleasing. Place making capitalizes on a local community’s assets, inspiration and potential, creating good public spaces that promote people’s health, happiness, and economic well-being.

Program Details

Eligible Applicants

Any city, village, township, or county government within Baraga, Gogebic, Houghton, Iron, Keweenaw, and Ontonagon Counties are eligible. Additionally, Main Street Programs, Tourism Bureaus, Parks and Recreation Boards, Nonprofit Community Based Development Organizations such as Chambers of Commerce within the regional boundary of these counties may apply.

Eligible Activities

Applicants should consider this grant as an opportunity to assist in creating high quality places that promote sustainable, resilient, human-scale, pedestrian-oriented, bicycle-friendly transportation options, mixed-use, green and public spaces, recreation, arts and culture, historic preservation, and broad civic engagement. Preference will be given to strategic investment in placemaking projects or strategies that have been previously prioritized and/or identified in a plan document such as a Master, Recreation, Capital, or DDA Plan.

Example Projects
Bridgeview Park

Bridgeview Park in Houghton, MI. Credit: Mark Goebel / CC BY

  • Community gardens
  • Farmer markets
  • Pedestrian plazas/walkways
  • Trails & paths
  • Playgrounds
  • Murals and public art
  • Wayfinding signage
  • Public space signage
  • Street furniture
  • Fountains
  • Lighting
  • Landscaping
  • Historic preservation or tribute
Farmers market

A downtown farmers market provides locally produced food options for residents and businesses. Credit: Joe Futrelle / CC BY


Examples of Ineligible Activities

Projects that generally don’t impact the public sphere such as the following examples:

  • Core functions of local government such as infrastructure or public works project, street repair, lighting, sidewalks, parking lots, bus stop, etc.
  • Ongoing operational expenses of existing entities
  • Indoor facilities such as YMCAs, libraries, community centers, etc.
  • Recreational areas without multi-functions such as baseball and soccer fields, tennis courts
  • Media or PR campaigns
  • Places with limited access
  • Places for a select group of users (i.e. students, athletes, elderly)
Careful consideration will be given to projects that:
  • Are part of a community placemaking or revitalization project and addresses a community challenge
  • Clearly follow master plan or recreation plan goals and objectives
  • Enable documentation of both a before and after renderings
  • Are accessible to the whole community and all residents
  • Are in a highly visited locations
  • Have community partners and other funding
  • Include a budget and plans for gap funding
  • Include a design concept/plan, if applicable
  • Exhibit an imaginative and experimental approach
  • Demonstrate extensive local volunteer involvement and support for the project
  • Fulfill widely perceived community needs
  • Are visible from a distance
  • Demonstrate need for financial support
  • Provide documentation of how project will meet local, state, and federal laws, if applicable, including local Zoning, Site Plan Review, Department of Health, Building Rehabilitation Code, etc.

Click Here for Even More Info!

For more information, contact Dylan Jones at the Western Upper Peninsula Planning & Development Region (WUPPDR) at or (906) 482-7205 (ext. 320).


Placemaking Resources