MML #6 – State Helps Communities Become Redevelopment Ready

Andy Meisner Treasurer TOPLocal Hop Ad TOPMML #6 – State Helps level_one_ad01Communities Become Redevelopment Ready

(Crystal A. Proxmire, Sept. 29, 2016)

Mackinac Island, MI – Change in communities happens in one of two ways, either with thoughtful planning or by chaos.  Across the state there are communities on the cusp of recovering from the recession of the past decade, and those that are investing in smart growth and planning are the ones thriving.

As part of the Michigan Municipal League’s 2016 Convention, Vice President of Community Development at the Michigan Economic Development Corporation Katherine Czarnecki ChamberAd_02shared how the MEDC has been working with local communities to understand and implement the changes that most help them achieve success, and invited communities to reach out to the MEDC to be part of the program.

“It takes 9 months to 2 years to become certified,” Czarnecki said.  “We’ve been working with the Michigan Municipal League to bring people into this program.” Communities that want to participate can begin in October and November with training on best practices and a plan to launch websites for their development ideas by the summer of 2017, and implementation by this time next year for those that are diligent about the process and able to get positive engagement from community members.

The basic point for communities to understand is the cyclical way that businesses, people and places tie together.  “Business needs talent.  Talent needs place.  Place needs business,” she Pledge_side_bluesaid.

Companies large and small cannot survive in areas where there is not a workforce that meets their needs.  From basic workers to creative leaders, businesses know that thriving communities are the place to invest.  Likewise people, particularly those who have grown up in an era where there have not been long-term manufacturing jobs or stability in public service jobs, are more flexible in their ideas about work and settling.  Distance is also less of a factor as many jobs are technology based. So more and more people pick a place they want to live and a community they want to be part of.

This is why Redevelopment Ready communities invest not only in business attraction, but in creating a sense of place.

“People don’t go to Grand Rapids and say wow, Grand Rapids has the best Target [store],” blumz01Czarnecki said.

What they are looking for, she said, are places where they can feel welcomed and engaged with the community around them.  Czarnecki gave five factors that can increase a community’s attractiveness for residents and for businesses – both of which are needed for prosperity to occur, or at least to maintain tax levels so schools and cities can provide services to residents.

COMPACT ACTIVITIES – Many people want to live in a place where daily living and experiences occur

INTERCONNECTED NETWORKS – Many people want to live in places where there are routes that encourage walking and bicycling, either for practical reasons or for pleasure

WIDE RANGE OF HOUSING – Communities thrive that have many styles of housing at various price points.m1_two tone

APPROPRIATE NEIGHBORHOOD DENSITY – Communities that are planned can be welcoming, communities that are hodgepodges of chance can be off-putting.

DISTINCT OR UNIQUE CHARACTERISTICS – People relate to what is unique, what they can tell their friends and co-workers about.  Amenities like unique parks, public art, public wifi, and community gathering spaces as well as natural features and history all make communities more attractive.

Yet planning can be expensive and often local officials lack the experience or knowledge to do planning well.  Municipalities that need redevelopment the most are often the most challenged when it comes to funding it.

garden16_andy_lecreauxThat is why the MEDC is working with communities as a public service.  “It’s not like the state coming in and telling you what to do.  Every community is different based on their strengths,” Czarnecki said.

The MEDC helps communities with community plans and outreach, zoning regulations, development review processes, recruitment and education, redevelopment ready sites and overall community prosperity, and they can connect municipalities with funding opportunities.

In Oakland County, Redevelopment Ready Communities include Farmington, Ferndale, Lathrup Village, Novi, Pontiac and Southfield.

For a basic overview of Redevelopment Ready Program go to SaharaAd_04

For a more detailed look at redevelopment best practices, check out

The Michigan Municipal League is dedicated to making Michigan’s communities better by thoughtfully innovating programs, energetically connecting ideas and people, actively serving members with resources and services, and passionately inspiring positive change for Michigan’s greatest centers of potential: its communities. The MML has supported the oc115 with a scholarship to the conference.  Learn more about MML

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