The Traverse Bay Great Start Collaborative was among four finalists and more than 20 nominees considered for the ACCE Regional Innovation Award. Other finalists included a program to expand the skilled workforce for aviation and advanced manufacturing companies around Greensboro, N.C., a business corridor project around Fort Collins, Colo., and a summer teen employment program in Flint.
“To be nominated as a finalist for the ACCE Regional Innovation award from among 21 candidates was an honor. For the Great Start Collaborative to win the award representing our Chamber and Venture North, the Traverse Bay Area Intermediate School District and all our Great Start partners is extraordinary,” Great Start Coordinator Mary Manner said. “It was a proud moment for me to accept the award on behalf of all our early childhood partners, and to know that our work in promoting investment in child development is being recognized by our peers in the business community.”
Doug Luciani, CEO of TraverseCONNECT and co-chair of the Children’s Leadership Council of Michigan, praised the work and accomplishments of the Great Start team. Luciani spearheaded the effort to bring the Great Start Collaborative under the Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce several years ago in partnership with the TBAISD. Great Start is now under Venture North, the economic development arm of TraverseCONNECT and a sister organization of the Chamber.
“The Chamber made early childhood development a priority more than a decade ago. Through the tireless work of dozens of volunteers and world-class staff, the state’s finest Intermediate School District, and major financial commitments from such companies as Consumers Energy and DTE, our five-county region’s Great Start Collaborative has distinguished itself as a national leader,” Luciani said. “This recognition by our peers at the Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives confirms and reinforces that our efforts are indeed best of class. It is also a great ‘boots on the ground’ complement to the Chamber’s advocacy efforts for increased resources for early childhood programs, and the Governor’s emphasis on “P-20″ programs, beginning at the pre-natal stage of development.”
TBAISD Supt. Michael Hill also lauded the efforts of the Traverse Bay Great Start Collaborative team and its partners.
“To be recognized by the Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives in Montreal is a tribute to the dedicated and passionate advocates of early childhood education throughout our five counties,” Hill said. “Hundreds of providers, practitioners, parents and community members have joined together to support an early childhood system aimed at preparing all students for success in school. This is a prestigious award we are honored to receive.”