Quality of place in the news

All of a sudden a lot of media reports on the importance of creating quality of place – particularly vibrant central cities – in growing the Michigan economy. Hopefully this media attention is a harbinger of policy maker attention. Because it sure isn’t on Lansing’s priority list at the moment. (If it ever has been!)

Here are reports that are worth checking out:

• A terrific piece by Rob South of WKAR radio on the importance of retaining and attracting young professionals to metropolitan Lansing.

• Two columns worth reading from Nathan Bomey for (You can read them here and here.) They are both about how the success of Detroit is essential to the economic success of Ann Arbor. One of the columns is entitled: A vibrant Detroit would make it easier for Ann Arbor companies to attract talented young professionals. Believe me most folks in Ann Arbor – and the rest of metro Detroit – still don’t believe that. But they are wrong. Bomey quotes Bruce McCully, founder of Ann Arbor-based information technology consultancy Dynamic Edge who is one of the few that gets it. He is right on when he says: This isn’t going to be popular, but Ann Arbor is kind of a suburb of Detroit. We may live in our own little world because of the university and a lot of effort that goes into creating jobs and new technology along with the university. However, if Detroit fails, so does Ann Arbor.

• An important article by Jon Zemke on Metromode on Fernadale as the model for creating quality of place. The article is  entitled: Ferndale – Metro Detroit’s Urban Incubator. It is about Ferndale’s growing economy even in the depths of the Michigan downturn. What is Ferndale doing right?  Welcoming to all (particularly gays), development and business friendly and organized around walkable urbanism rather than the car oriented development that is so dominant in Michigan. Lessons Michigan central cities – particularly Detroit – and inner ring suburbs need to learn.

• A surprisingly positive article in the Flint Journal on downtown Flint. Yes Flint. Another of those cities that conventional wisdom has consigned to the graveyard. Try telling that to the folks living in downtown Flint quoted in the article.

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