The Michigan Municipal League's 2011 Convention in Grand Rapids featured a full slate of educational sessions including the Economic Vitality Incentive Program, the latest on the personal property tax issue, risk management issues, medical marijuana, civic engagement, and entrepreneurship. Also taking place was the Michigan Municipal League Board annual meeting, selection of new board members and the 2012 president and vice president, and a book giveaway. The Convention ran Oct. 4-7 in Grand Rapids during the final days of ArtPrize. A parade of flags started things off and was followed by welcoming presentations by Grand Rapids Mayor George Heartwell, Susan Heartwell of the Student Advancement Foundation, and Rick DeVos, founder of ArtPrize. In addition, the League's new book, "The Economics of Place: The Value of Building Communities Around People" was unveiled and the nearly 500 League members attending the opening session at the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel got free copies of the book, which is for sale on Amazon.com. And Governor Rick Snyder also gave a speech to League members and participated in a press conference where the book was officially presented to the public. As part of an annual tradition, the annual Community Excellence Award and numerous other honors were also bestowed on League members and supporters. New to this year's Convention was vendor-sponsored education sessions including Confront the Foreclosure Crisis led by Michael Halpern and Brandon Kirkham of Safeguard Properties; Show Me the Money: Project Funding Success Stories by Jim Hegarty and Jason Washler of Prein & Newhoff officials; When Good Construction Projects Go Bad: How to Manage and Win Lawsuits led by Gary August of Zausmer, Kaufman, August, Caldwell and Taylor; Concepts Behind Universally Accessible Playgrounds by John McConkey of Landscape Structures Inc. and Eric Sheffer of Superior Play; Top 10 Open Meetings Act Mistakes and How to Avoid them by Michael Homier, Ronald Richards and Anne Seurynck of Foster Swift; and Weathering the Health Care Reform Storm by Brian Mauck and Troy Young of American Fidelity. During his presentation, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder told members of the Michigan Municipal League that "we're all in this together and we'll win together". Read a blog post about the governor's talk here: www.mml.org/events/blog/post/Governor-Snyder-at-League-Co.... The theme of this year's Convention is platemaking the and League's Center for 21st Century Communities initiative: www.mml.org/resources/21c3/about.html. Key presenters Thursday prior to the governor's talk were Peter Allen, president of Peter Allen & Associates, who discussed the importance of economic development in platemaking; Sadicka White, president of Sadicka & Associates, who talked about how physical design and walkability impacts platemaking; Dr. Ernesto Sirolli, founder and CEO of the Sirolli Institute; and Helen Davis Johnson, co-president of CreateHere. Also speaking Thursday were Paul Hillegonds, senior vice president at DTE Energy and former speaker of the House; Capt. Mark Adamshick, US Navy and chair for the study of officership; Mark Nickita, urban designer; Paul Galdes of Fleis & VandenBriink; Jack Wheatley, of Rowe Professional Services; Peter Auger, city manager of Auburn Hills; Ron Mark, city manager of Reed City; William Costick of Orchard, Hiltz & McCliment Inc.; James Houk of Bird Houk; Steve Brock, city manager of Farmington Hills and president of MLGMA; Joe Borgstrom of MSHDA; League President Carol Shafto; and League staff members Sean Mann, Samantha Harkins, Jason Mancini, Summer Minnick, Andy Schor and Arnold Weinfeld. For more about the League and what we do go to mml.org. For details about Convention go to www.tour.mml.org. You can also follow us on Facebook at facebook.com/mmleague and on Twitter at @mmleague and the hashtag #mmltour.