BATTLE CREEK, Mich. — City Hall received the news they’d been hoping for for weeks, said communications manager Jessica VanderKolk. The National Civic League called them to say the city of Battle Creek was named a finalist for the All-America City Award.
“When we turned in our application I was really excited and optimistic,” VanderKolk said with a smile. “When we got the finalist call I was just ecstatic.”
The award is given out to communities nationwide that exhibit diversity and inclusive civic engagement, she said. When VanderKolk and others submitted the application last month they made sure to highlight just that.
“We talked about BC Vision, which has been going for a few years,” said VanderKolk during an interview at City Hall. “We talked about the TRUTH Racial Healing and Transformation coalition that’s in Battle Creek through the Kellogg Foundation.”
They also highlighted some of the city projects going on with the Battle Creek Police Department and the Kellogg Foundation, she said. They included anything that would help them to standout among the group of 20 finalist.
“The finalists go from San Antonio down to a town of 22,000,” said VanderKolk. “So we’re right in the mix.”
They’re also competing against Las Vegas, Nevada; Miami Beach, Florida and nearby Ann Arbor she stated in a press release. However city officials believe Battle Creek has what it takes to be named a winner. Last year, 247WallStreet.com named them one of the worst cities to raise a family. That's not who they are, she said.
"Organizations in our community are working together and we’re making progress," VanderKolk said. "We are reaching toward goals. It’s not a short process. It’s a long process."
The next step for them, she said, is to put together and showcase a presentation for the Civic League in Denver in June. That’s when they find out who the 10 winners are and they believe they'll return home with the award. The last time a Michigan city won it was Port Huron in 2005.
“We are going to jump for joy if we win,” said VanderKolk.