Engaged Communities A Key to Long-Term Economic Success

In Michigan we are in the process of reinventing ourselves.

Mark's Carts in Ann Arbor, the state's top food truck spot

Mark’s Carts in Ann Arbor, the state’s top food truck spot

Once the premiere manufacturing hub of the western hemisphere, Michigan has struggled in recent decades with a weakened economy associated with de-industrialization and the corresponding shrinking of our cities. The Big 3 automakers and Detroit stand as our most obvious examples of change, however the vast majority of industries and communities throughout the state were affected by the industrial apocalypse as well. As a result, the state’s per capita income fell from 18th among the 50 states in 2000 to 35th in 2013 and college attainment fell to 33rd.

If you’re expecting the next paragraph to read like an obituary then you may be surprised. While the state is still realigning itself to compete in the new global economy, Michigan stands as a leader in areas of community based development and placemaking.

Innovative economic models and authentic, grass-roots led engagement efforts literally dot the landscape from one end of the state to the other. At the League we’re working with partners across the state to enact a long-term, more sustainable pattern of growth that can serve the state well long into the 21st Century and I can tell you that the innovative capacity that we witness is truly remarkable. Creative placemaking is chic in our state, in big cities and small towns alike. And…. (sshhh don’t tell anybody) the folks at city hall are actually helping with the efforts and, in many cases, even leading the way. With the recent passage of best-of-its-kind crowdfunding legislation I expect the flywheel to begin turning even faster.

So don’t let the naysayers or the recent weather fool you, it’s an exciting time to be in the Rust Lake Belt! Our best days are ahead.