A Young Professional’s Positive Take on Millennials in Michigan

Millennial Generation

Samantha Audia

Samantha Audia is young. She is smart. She is ambitious. And… wait for it… she wants to stay in Michigan for the long haul.

For a state that has lost thousands of young people to places like Chicago and Portland over the last decade, Samantha’s positive outlook on the state feels like a shot in the arm. Check out Samantha’s blog at the League’s placemaking website for insights and impressions on civic issues that matter to her and her peers.

From Samantha’s blog, Those Who Stay Will Be Champions:

“In recent years, staying in Michigan after graduation seemed the less-glamorous, ‘only if I have no other options’ choice for graduates. However, remaining in-state to contribute to Michigan’s ever-developing and increasingly entrepreneurial landscape is becoming a bold, even renegade option for students hoping to make a difference in their own corners of the world.”

“Michigan’s reinvention is key because, on the whole, millennials have been found to value the difference that they can make in their respective localities. Staying in Michigan allows millennials to pursue not only individual success, but to directly affect their changing and growing communities, something essential to their own personal fulfillment.”

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The Prosperity Agenda: Making the Most of Michigan Winters

prosperity-agenda-thumbIt seemed that winter weather took forever to get to Michigan this year, but now that January is here, we’re back to the usual snow and cold temperatures. For some people that’s bad news, but many hearty Michigan residents are happy to be out skiing, sledding, ice fishing, snowmobiling, ice skating and otherwise enjoying the season that turns Michigan into a winter wonderland. My co-host for this month’s show is John “Gonzo” Gonzalez, statewide entertainment, travel, beer & food writer for MLive.com. Our guests are Michelle Grinnell from Travel Michigan at the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, Jamie Furbush from the Frankenmuth Chamber of Commerce and Convention and Visitors Bureau and Nancy Krupiarz, executive director for Michigan Trails and Greenways Alliance. 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 hour-long radio program is hosted by me, Dan Gilmartin, CEO of the League. The show is sponsored by the League and the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA). The League’s next show airs at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2016, 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 League’s placemaking work here on this blog.

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Taking care of the basics

in·fra·struc·ture
ˈinfrəˌstrək(t)SHər/
noun
noun: infrastructure; plural noun: infrastructures
  1. the basic physical and organizational structures and facilities (e.g., buildings, roads, and power supplies) needed for the operation of a society or enterprise.
pub·lic pol·i·cy
noun
noun: public policy
  1. the principles, often unwritten, on which social laws are based.
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Spain_Elementary_Middle_School_condition_0_29748079_ver1.0_640_480

The conditions at Spain school in Detroit

Last week Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan visited a group of public school buildings in his city. At the conclusion of his tour the mayor told the Detroit Free Press, “There were some schools that were very well-maintained. There were some other schools that would just break your heart, where students wore their coats in class until it was warm enough to take them off or where children couldn’t use the gym because of the water damage. ”

Just to the north of Detroit, the sparkling new Bloomfield Hills High School is open for business, complete with a fireplace, grand staircase and a sculpture laden courtyard.

It is ten miles, 10.8 to be exact, from BHHS to the border of the city of Detroit.

Infrastructure

The BHHS courtyard

I am pleased that the students attending classes at BHHS will do so in an environment that celebrates architecture, open spaces and learning. Is it too opulent? Maybe, maybe not. But, I cheer its aspiration, especially when compared to the hideous, low-bid public structures that have become the norm in the last half century.

The Detroit case, however, is much less complicated for me. It is a clear and obvious failure of public policy. How can we expect children to apply themselves when their schools have leaky roofs, buckling floors and mold? Yet state policy allows for (promotes?) these outcomes through funding mechanisms that under-fund just about everything and increase disparities between rich areas and poor ones.

public schools

Gymnasium at Spain Elementary

In Michigan it is not just the schools. Our roads are among the nation’s worst and public transportation is non existent for most citizens. Like with schools, the problems are everywhere, but they are most pronounced in urban areas. Yet, despite calls from every corner of the state, the legislature failed to pass a meaningful transportation package at the end of 2015, signaling that the hurdles will remain for decades to come.

And then there is the case of Flint and the elevated levels of lead in the water. It is hard to fathom that the collective public policy strategy in 2015 doesn’t guarantee clean drinking water for all of the state’s citizens.  We aren’t a fledgling banana republic, after all. This is the United States of America, and Michigan is the Great Lakes State. Epic public policy failures like this draw the world’s attention- not exactly the kind of image that state leaders want when proclaiming the state’s comeback after decades of economic decline.

pot hole

A road maintenance crew gets stuck in a pot hole

Poor school conditions, lousy roads, awful public transportation and dirty water. For a state looking to rebuild itself as a viable 21st Century destination, the dreadful lack of basic infrastructure is a challenge that must be overcome. Cities cannot do it without the state’s commitment which, to date, remains elusive.

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The Prosperity Agenda: Connecting Michigan Through Higher Education

prosperity-agenda-thumbMichigan is fortunate to have a network of strong public and private universities. This month, we’re talking about the role that colleges and universities play in improving residents’ health care, food choices, and access to information, education and job training. It’s a responsibility that colleges and universities are taking on willingly, both as a way to help our cities and as a way to improve town-gown relationships. My co-host for this month’s show is Detroit Free Press higher education reporter David Jesse. Our guests are Jeff Mason from Michigan’s University Research Corridor, Scott MacInnes from the Michigan Municipal League, and Ned Staebler, vice president of economic development for Wayne State University.

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 hour-long radio program is hosted by me, Dan Gilmartin, CEO of the League. The show is sponsored by the League and the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA). The League’s next show airs at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 23, 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 League’s placemaking work here on this blog.

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