By CRAIG FREILICH
CANTON – Even if they don’t have a winning entry, Canton is hoping the All America Cities competition will create some buzz for the community.
“We all know Canton is a wonderful place to live and raise a family, and we hope to encourage others to think about it,” said Town Supervisor David Button, who is leading the team preparing to enter the contest, which is sponsored by the National Civic League.
The contest can “create a buzz about your business, grant opportunities and other benefits,” especially if a community is picked as one of the 20 finalists, and even more, of course, if a community wins one of the annual awards.
The All-America City Awards is the nation’s oldest and most prestigious community recognition award honoring exemplary problem solving and collaboration.
Canton entered last year but didn’t find a place on the finalists list, but Button said they have been encouraged to try again.
“When the dust settled, Gloria Rubio-Cortez (of the National Civic League) said the competition was the stiffest she had ever seen,” Button said.
“You came so close. Please apply again. I think you have a story to tell,” Button quotes her as saying.
“Her encouragement and the enthusiasm of the team made it easy to decide to give it another shot. We looked and saw that most of the eventual winners didn’t win the first timer they entered,” Button said.
The team Button speaks of includes retired SUNY Canton president Joe Kennedy, Canton Director of Economic Development Linda McQuinn, St. Lawrence University’s Regional Development and Sustainability Coordinator Ben Dixon, SUNY Canton Athletic Director Randy Sieminski, and Canton CPA John Gray.
They are preparing the application, due March 18, focusing on this year’s special interest, Healthy Communities.
“We think our application will be competitive. And the National Civic League likes grass-roots efforts.”
Button says that’s a natural for Canton.
“They expect some government involvement in the applications, but Canton has a grass-roots health and sustainability lifestyle. We have the Summer Sunset and Frozen Foote races, the pee wee programs, not created by the municipality but by people in the community who identify with those themes.
“And the Canton Canoe Weekend, a huge event, not generated by the municipality or with tax money but by people who believe in the events and believe they add value – and fun – to the community.
“We’re not going to tell the municipal story, but the citizens’ stories.”
The team has been working for months and interest has been growing, Button said.
“We hope to be among the 20 finalists,” he said. Those will be announced in April.