Midwest Energy partners with McClure to continue Imagine Cass momentum

Published 12:11 pm Thursday, June 6, 2019

CASSOPOLIS — Imagine spending the day in Cassopolis – shopping at downtown retail stores, the farmer’s market, relaxing at a public access beach on Stone Lake and having dinner at a brewery. These are all things that were on the minds of folks attending the first of two visioning meetings at Midwest Energy and Communications on Thursday, May 31.

The meeting, hosted by David Allen, vice president, regulatory and gas operations at MEC was not an attempt to undo any of the progress made through Imagine Cass, or the master plan, but rather to advance it even further.

“We are not trying to usurp anything done through Imagine Cass — that’s been a great effort to date. We are looking to augment it, to add to it, so we contacted McClure,” Allen said.

McClure, formerly known as McClure Engineering Company, does place-making. They are currently working in 18 states and have a few additional contracts in Canada.

“It’s sort of like economic development, just in a different way,” said Libby Crimmings of McClure.

“We dropped our engineering part of our name and just changed it to McClure. The reason we did that was that our leadership, who is very visionary, decided that [because] we have a strong reputation in civil engineering, we love building strong communities, and making things better, we really wanted to help our clients do more for their communities,” she said.

Traditionally, placemaking happens in bigger cities, urban centers or neighborhoods. McClure specializes in helping rural communities, with 20,000 people or less, come up with a vision of where they want their community to grow, and then helps them organize and secure funding.

“We focus on catalyst projects, and create that ripple effect,” Crimmings said.

The main goal of the meetings was to receive feedback to help McClure better understand the goals of Cassopolis, and then help create those things.

“What can we do with all the information you have from Imagine Cass and The Masterplan, and all these other things, that we can help make come to life?” Crimmings said.

More than 40 people filled the meeting room at MEC in Cassopolis to give their feedback on what they loved most about Cassopolis — the lakes, architecture, Cass County Council on Aging, historic library, diversity, and what they feel is missing — public access to Stone Lake, restaurants and breweries and retail options. There were hundreds of responses that Crimmings and Emily Hurt, also of McClure, recorded for their planning, strategizing purposes.

The end goal of their work is economic and social development, increasing the population and improving the quality of life for those living in Cassopolis.

The next step for McClure, working with local groups and organizations, will be to push out a survey to the community so everyone has a chance to be heard.

Once all the surveys have been received and tallied, the team at McClure will put together a custom website just for Cassopolis.

“We don’t believe in 250-page reports because nobody wants to write them and nobody wants to read them,” Crimmings said. “We will create a website for you. Whatever the plan is it will be publicly available so you can go online. You can see everything that we’re working on.”

The website will work as an action plan to share what the projects are, who is working on them, the action steps to complete, where the money will come from and the business plan for the entire creation.