Operations Director Jackie Koney presented at Brownfields 2019 national training conference in Los Angeles on Thursday, Dec. 12. Koney was invited to present as part of the conference’s “Community Engagement and Environmental Justice” section.
Koney’s presentation titled “All Roads Lead to Vicksburg” focused on The Mill’s dedication to creating public and private partnerships using strategic community engagement efforts to save the former 400,000 SF paper mill in Southwest Michigan from the wrecking ball. Koney talked about her project team’s commitment to transparency and cooperation when working with various private and municipal bodies. She highlighted their effort to authentically engage the small town of 3,200 by hosting tours of the property that included Q&A sessions, creating web and social media sites to keep audiences updated and engaging in community projects with volunteer and sponsorship support.
She also shared how their efforts have resulted in many positive results including a robust “Mill Hugger” supporter email list, productive conversations and engagement opportunities with local schools, arts and civic communities, and government approvals, including receiving a significant Transformational Brownfield Plan credit from the State of Michigan. When completed, the Mill at Vicksburg hopes to be a beacon of success by turning a blighted property into a music, event and manufacturing destination that will drive the revitalization of the Village of Vicksburg and become a hub and gathering place for the community.
Cosponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the International City/County Management Association (ICMA), the National Brownfields Training Conference is the largest gathering of stakeholders focused on cleaning up and reusing formerly utilized commercial and industrial properties. The event was held Dec. 10-13 at the Los Angeles Convention Center.