Media Contact:
Rob Cleveland
Phone: (269) 757-0201
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February 11, 2019

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. - Cornerstone Alliance, Berrien County’s lead economic development agency, is seeking grants that will add new public infrastructure in the harbor, as well as aid in establishing the first State of Michigan Water Trail designation in Southwest Michigan. The St. Joseph City Commission saw a presentation from Cornerstone Alliance, in partnership with Berrien County Community Development, Abonmarche and the Southwest Michigan Planning Commission, on the impact of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Waterways Program grant. St. Joseph City Commissioners supported the request to apply for the grant in a unanimous vote. The project will now be presented for consideration to the Berrien County Commissioners.

The Waterways Program grant provides funding for design and construction of infrastructure that creates new public recreational access at four locations in the St. Joseph River. If the project is approved by the Berrien County Board of Commissioners, Berrien County Community Development will apply for the DNR Waterways grant for infrastructure upgrades along the St. Joseph River. Cornerstone Alliance will provide matching funds required for grant application, up to $150,000.

The DNR Waterways Program grant and Cornerstone Alliance efforts will establish a foundation that will jump start further development to other communities upriver. Rob Cleveland, Cornerstone Alliance President states, “Without question, our greatest asset is the water. Lake Michigan, our rivers, beaches and harbors are unique assets that should be maximized to increase mobility and connectivity opportunities. Many of our leaders have put great effort into projects like the Twin Cities Harbor study and the Harbor Charrette that have delivered a vision for the future of water recreation. This infrastructure will create new businesses and new jobs. We’re hopeful the State of Michigan will see that this project supports a lifestyle that draws families to our community.”

If awarded, the infrastructure upgrades will be made to areas that align with the findings and recommendations of the 2015 Twin Cities Harbor Study and overlap those areas identified as important by the public on Sept. 19, 2018 for the Sustainable Harbors Initiative. In addition to the DNR Waterways Program grant, Cornerstone Alliance, in partnership with Southwest Michigan Planning Commission, submitted a Coastal Zone Management (CZM) Grant. The CZM Grant will assist in providing funding to achieve State of Michigan Water Trail Designation for St. Joseph and Paw Paw Rivers.

The Berrien County Commission will hear a presentation seeking approval to apply for the DNR Waterway Program grant from Berrien County Community Development and Cornerstone Alliance on February 21, 2019 at 8:30 a.m. Grant applications are due April 1, 2019.