1954 Called and it Wants its Economic Development Strategy Back!

*I write this post in the midst of battling state legislation that would curtail local decision making on economic issues in favor of a single statewide standard.

Indulge me, please.

In an age when people, jobs and entire industries are mobile city leaders must make great efforts to distinguish their communities from the crowd. Creating and nurturing authentic experiences for people are vital tools for improving economic opportunities. That’s a fact.

The “one size fits all” argument clings to a flawed premiss that it increases efficiency, which leads to growth. This concept is at least outdated.

If the goal of a city or state is to attract low skilled, low paying production jobs then a single set of rules may eradicate barriers to entry. Many emerging countries favor this strategy. I, however, am under the impression that we’re aiming higher in Michigan.

Think of all the great places you like to visit (or live) and ask yourself, “what if they all looked and felt alike?” Where would Portland be without its emphasis on the environment? How would Austin differ without neighborhood based live music? Is Miami Beach still extraordinary without Art Deco?

Celebrating human diversity is a worthy and generally accepted goal today. We must do the same when it comes to our cities. Unique rules that buoy local culture and honor the distinct attributes of people and places are good things. Wiping them out is shortsighted and ill-advised.

Rant concluded.

*I now return you to your regularly scheduled program.

Posted in Cultural Economic Development, Entrepreneurship, Messaging & Technology | Tagged , | 1 Comment

The League’s Detroit, Flint, Midland and Marquette ‘PlacePlans’ Draw Praise In Different Circles

Flint, Michigan PlacemakingAs an add on to the December 4 post below, check out these new stories on the PlacePlans work around Michigan. These exciting projects are drawing praise from local residents, economic developers, the business community and lawmakers. Exciting stuff!

A plan to make Vernor area pop in Detroit

Abandoned Structure In SW Detroit Could Become Retail Center and Gathering Place

Midland and Flint develop placemaking plans

Michigan Municipal League releases PlacePlan for Marquette’s Baraga Avenue

You can read more about these projects and the League’s work here.

Posted in Cultural Economic Development, Entrepreneurship, Multiculturalism, Physical Design & Walkability | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Check Out These Updates on ‘PlacePlans’ Work in Michigan


The crew at the Michigan Municipal League is at it again with some great new placemaking work in communities throughout the state. We are working on open air food markets, walkability, cultural economic development and several other interesting endeavors.

To read about the innovative concepts rolling out in towns across Michigan click on the links below.

‘Food innovation district’ plan could bring indoor market to downtown Holland

$15 million Southwest Detroit development gets planning help from Michigan Municipal League

Plan shows new arches connecting Flint’s 3-mile Grand Traverse Greenway project

Downtown Jackson alley could get facelift as early as next year


Posted in Cultural Economic Development, Green Initiatives, Multiculturalism, Physical Design & Walkability | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

The Prosperity Agenda: Crowdfunding Efforts Helping To Move Michigan Forward

prosperity-agenda-thumbCould crowdfunding be the wave of the future in Michigan’s communities? We think the answer is yes. Crowdfunding, in essence, takes the tools of Wall Street to the local level in a way in which everyone can use and benefit. We discuss this crowdfunding movement, new state laws and what it means for Michigan’s economic growth during our November Prosperity Agenda radio show on News/Talk 760 WJR. The League has become a leader in this crowdfunding effort and you can view the various crowdfunding opportunities available at crowdfundingmi.com. My co-host for the show is Marjory Raymer, director of news for the Mlive media group. Our guests for the show are Katharine Czarnecki, director of community development at the Michigan Economic Development Corp. (MEDC); Chris Miller, the lead economic and downtown developer for the City of Adrian in southeast Michigan; and Kevin Hitchen, CFA and founder of Localstake. The Michigan Prosperity Agenda is a monthly radio show that challenges listeners to help make Michigan a better place to live, work and play by creating vibrant and prosperous local communities. It has aired on News/Talk 760 WJR since 2010. The show airs 7 p.m. Wednesday, September 24, on News/Talk 760 WJR, but you can listen anytime at the League’s website or by subscribing to the FREE iTunes podcast. Learn more about the placemaking concept here as well as on this blog.

Posted in Prosperity Agenda | 1 Comment