Excitement filled the air as a crowd of about 70 Baroda-area residents packed the patio of the village’s downtown Round Barn Public House. The occasion was a celebration of Baroda’s revitalization efforts, which are featured in the League’s new book, “The Economics of Place: The Art of Building Great Communities.”
League executive director and CEO Dan Gilmartin commended Baroda for its 12-year initiative to rebrand the area as “The Heart of Wine Country.” Working collaboratively, the communities of Baroda, Baroda Township, Bridgman, Lake Township, Oronoko Township and Berrien Springs were successful in creating an agritourism destination focused on their wineries. The results can be seen in the thousands of tourists and visitors that are now drawn to the region every year to enjoy not only the tasting rooms, but the antique shops, art galleries, and unique stores that now fill once-vacant storefronts.
Gilmartin shared with the audience that they have accomplished one of the primary tenets of placemaking – acting locally to make your place a great place to be. He reminded them that in today’s mobile society where people can live and work anywhere they want, it’s a community’s sense of place that attracts new residents and businesses. More than anything, it’s the human experience that matters. Places like Baroda that build communities for people rather than cars and celebrate their uniqueness are the ones that will be successful in growing over the long term.
Being transitional is also an important part of the process, said Gilmartin. In our fast-changing world, local governments need to be flexible, open to new ideas, and collaborative with local businesses, civic groups and neighboring communities. And when entrepreneurs come knocking on their door, municipalities should look for ways to be supportive and help the entrepreneur’s vision spring to life.
State Rep. Dave Pagel, R-Berrien Springs (left), and State Sen. John Proos, R-St. Joseph (right), were also on hand for the festivities. They presented Bob Getz, Baroda Village Council president, and Hannah Anderson, Bridgman mayor, with signed tributes applauding the communities for their efforts to transform and establish themselves as valuable assets in the county and region.
Check out our photos of the event. You just might spot a picture of yourself!
For details and ordering information for “The Economics of Place: The Art of Building Great Communities,” visit economicsofplace.com.