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Paddle Antrim Receives Community Growth Grant


Networks Northwest, in partnership with the Northern Lakes Economic Alliance, announced the award of a 2014 Regional Prosperity Initiative: Community Growth Grant for the Village of Ellsworth. The $7,500 grant award will be used to organize and hold a new signature event, called “Paddle Antrim” to take place in 2015 along the Chain of Lakes region of Antrim County.

The project involves the organization, promoting, and launching an annual outdoor recreational paddling event (Paddle Antrim) connecting the four communities of Ellsworth, Central Lake, Bellaire, and Elk Rapids. The purpose of the project is to feature each of the four communities highlighting their unique community assets. The event will include special activities, business promotions, and educational offerings on the canoe and kayak sport.

“This event will serve as a huge economic boost to this region in the ‘shoulder’ time of the year,” said Mary Faculak, Executive Director of the East Jordan Area Chamber of Commerce, one of the founding members of the Paddle Antrim committee.

Antrim County is blessed with many high quality lakes and streams. The Chain of Lakes is unique in that it consists of the continual connection of 14 lakes and rivers. The Chain of Lakes is very popular with boaters and fishermen alike. The four Antrim County Chambers of Commerce have united with other partners, including the Village of Ellsworth, Short’s Brewing Company, the Grass River Natural Area, and the Three Lakes Association on organizing this event and other educational initiatives along the Chain of Lakes. 

Paddle Antrim Check Presentation (9/25/14)

L to R: Misty Youngson, Executive Director – Elk Rapids Chamber of Commerce; Jan Kellogg, Economic Dev. Specialist – Northern Lakes Economic Alliance and Networks Northwest; James Dake, Education Director – Grass River Natural Area; Hugh Campbell, President – Village of Ellsworth; Matt Drake, Operations Manager – Short’s Brewing Company and President – Paddle Antrim; Leslie Meyers – Three Lakes Association; Mary Faculak , President – East Jordan Area Chamber of Commerce; Suzi McGuire, Director – Central Lake Chamber of Commerce; Patti Savant, Director – Bellaire Chamber of Commerce; Mark Irwin, Fischer Insurance Agency and Vice President – Paddle Antrim.


“Short’s Brewing Company is excited about Paddle Antrim as it will be a catalyst in promoting awareness of the pristine waterway throughout the year. Receiving this grant is critical in the success of this effort,” said Matt Drake, Operations Manager of Short’s.

The $7,500 grant, along with matching funds, will be used to hire a part-time director to help organize and hold the first “Paddle Antrim” event in 2015. This grant program is one component of northwest lower Michigan’s response to the Governor’s state-wide Regional Prosperity Initiative that was signed into law as a part of the FY 2014 budget (59 PA 2013). The Regional Prosperity Initiative’s goal is to encourage local private, public and non-profit partners to create vibrant regional economies through collaboration and local decision making.

The Regional Prosperity Initiative Community Growth Grants Program is intended to strengthen the region by removing barriers and creating incentives for greater public and private sector investment in the region. Successful projects will create the conditions for sustainable and efficient growth and development by implementing strategies that are consistent with local values, community goals, and the Regional Prosperity Initiative. Grants of up to $7,500 and/or technical assistance were awarded on a competitive basis to governments within northwest Lower Michigan.

Funding for the program is provided by a State of Michigan Regional Prosperity Initiative Grant (Michigan Department of Technology, Management, & Budget) received by Networks Northwest with support from the Northern Lakes Economic Alliance.


For more information, please contact a staff member at Networks Northwest Regional Planning.



Our Township greatly benefits from Network Northwest's experience, depth of knowledge and understanding. Because they work with so many diverse communities in our ten-county region they understand the local land-use issues and are already working on solutions by the time we realize we need some help.
- Susan Odom, Chair, Suttons Bay Township Planning Commission