With a heavy emphasis on attracting and retaining talented workers, city leaders are increasingly looking to strengthen strategic bonds with colleges and universities. There is no doubt that the successes of institutions of higher education are pivotal to the economic interests of the cities and regions in which they reside. In addition to the obvious (prepping students, direct employment, etc.), these institutions can play vital roles as downtown developers, incubators of entrepreneurial activity, economic stimulants, and more.
The Michigan Municipal League, together with its partners in the higher ed world, recently launched a Town/Gown Blog in an effort to call attention to the important activities taking place in this area. Mayors from big cities and small towns are featured along with college and university presidents. Topics from bloggers range widely, with a central theme on the importance of the relationship and an emphasis on innovative ways they are working together. Current League President Mayor David Lossing is the driving force behind the Town/Gown partnership. Lossing currently works for the University of Michigan-Flint as the director of government relations, and as an adjunct lecturer for the School of Education on UM’s Ann Arbor campus, and as an instructor in the “Town and Gown Certificate” program through the International Town & Gown Association based at Clemson University.