Category Archives: economic development

APA sets principles for federal infrastructure investments

road06-800pxEverybody’s talking about infrastructure. The Michigan Association of Planning has made it a focus of their policy planning for the past two years. Governor Rick Snyder’s 21st Century Infrastructure Commission said the state needs to spend $4 billion a year more than it currently does just to reach the national average of infrastructure spending.

The American Planning Association has reacted to President Trump’s desire to improve the country’s infrastructure by establishing nine principles to guide the efforts of Congress and the administration. A new federal infrastructure program should:

  • Serve multiple modes and types of infrastructure
  • Be driven by local visions and strong regional planning
  • Address long-term funding sustainability
  • Harness private sector investment and creativity to advance and protect the public interest
  • Consider key factors of location and leverage
  • Promote access
  • Advance opportunity for all
  • Embrace and support innovation
  • Make communities safer and more resilient

Leaders’ shared vision inspires Center Line development plan

Center Line DDA

Photo by David Lewinski

The city of Center Line has revived its downtown development authority and refocused its tax increment financing (TIF) in a placemaking initiative to attract businesses that serve nearby workers and young people to its tidy blocks of affordable houses.

“The first challenge is getting the willpower and getting a champion,” said CWA’s Dave Scurto in this January 21 Metromode article. “Center Line has overcome this fantastically. Everybody’s working together with the same vision and message. The mayor and the council understand the business community.”

The article features the Center Line city manager/DDA director and the mayor and their plans for a façade improvement program, gateway signage, enhanced wayfinding, streetscape maintenance and online marketing.

Dave compared the initiative to the city of Riverview’s successful plan to acquire a faded shopping center and redevelop it into a medical complex.

Changes in recreation demand align with placemaking in Michigan

two cyclist mountainbiker during a race in the woods“People choose to settle in places that offer the amenities, social and professional networks, resources and opportunities to support thriving lifestyles. Michigan can attract and retain talent – especially young, knowledge-based talent – by focusing on how best to take advantage of the unique placemaking assets of our regional communities,” says the State of Michigan’s website.

For the past six years the state’s planning and economic development teams have focused their resources on creating attractive, healthy places to live and work. At the same time, the forms of recreation that are expanding are those favored by the very millennials placemaking targets. “Think REI instead of Cabela’s,” says this Bridge Magazine article.

Bridge reports that since 2009, the number of resident hunters in Michigan dropped 10 percent and the number of fishing licenses fell by a third.

“It is a different mentality,” said Brad Garmon of the Michigan Environmental Council. “The hunting and fishing generation was a lot about family, going away to deer camp together. The millennial generation is much more about weaving activities into their daily life.” Those activities include hiking, climbing, mountain biking, paddleboarding, geocaching and kayaking.

The city of Marquette targets mountain bikers and, yes, surfers. Alpena promotes shipwreck diving, Tawas provides ideal winds for kiteboarders. If Grand Rapids can gain the necessary federal approvals, changes to the downtown portion of the Grand River could result in $16 to $19 million in annual economic impact from water tourism.

Metromode interviews CWA’s Dick Carlisle about sprawl

dick-sprawl-courtesy-doug-coombe-webDevelopers continue to build new subdivisions in the far reaches of metro Detroit, but changing tastes and demographic demand are pulling people, especially the young and old, back into close-in, urban centers said CWA President Dick Carlisle in this Metromode article.

While studies have ranked Detroit the 12th most sprawling metro area in the country, and one of the fastest sprawling, Dick said baby boomers who want smaller homes in a walkable community will join with millennials, 16-35, who don’t want to drive and prefer smaller, lower-cost housing, to drive demand in urban places.

“The biggest city in the state still hasn’t yet fully responded to the trend for more walkable urban placemaking,” Dick said. “The pressure is now on, and the timing couldn’t be better.” He said a comprehensive transit system is essential to the trend.

“At some point in time we have to begin to understand that there’s going to be a whole generation of people that either don’t want to or will not be able to own a car,” he said. “Frankly, that’s going to cross generations.”

New sports, like “Ultimate,” could help your community score economic goals


By Charlotte Wilson

As the number and variety of competitive athletic events expands, communities may repurpose their recreation facilities or build new ones to attract events that grow the local economy. Consider, for example, Ultimate Frisbee* or “Ultimate,” as it’s known, since “Frisbee” is trademarked by Wham-O.

When you hear that, what immediately pops into your head? College kids tossing a disc on the quad between classes? Dog agility competitions?  Throwing discs into metal cages on a disc golf course? I had no idea what Ultimate was until 2010. However, after almost six years of playing and one year of coaching, when I hear the word Ultimate I think about grueling late night practices, playing tournaments in blizzards, hail, and six-inch-deep mud and creating life-long friendships in the most accepting, fun, and hardworking community I know. Continue reading

Get your free placemaking guide from MSU Land Policy Institute

Front cover of the Placemaking Guidebook. Photo by Leisa Thompson, courtesy of the City of Ann Arbor, DDA

Front cover of the Placemaking Guidebook. Photo by Leisa Thompson, courtesy of the City of Ann Arbor, DDA

Communities of all shapes and sizes will benefit from the information in a free, 600-page placemaking guidebook from the Michigan State University Land Policy Institute. The digital publication focuses on the economic benefits of placemaking.

“This tool is particularly valuable in states, regions and localities that are attempting to reshape their communities to again be competitive in the global New Economy,” LPI said. “Appropriate for municipalities of all shapes and sizes, including those facing different sets of challenges, this guidebook includes case examples of placemaking in action, and highlights various organizations, tools

and resources that can be employed, engaged and adapted to meet a community’s unique situations.”

Visit the LPI website to order a free download.

Active transportation features add value to developments

By Charlotte Wilson

A new publication by the Urban Land Institute explores the interconnections among walking, bicycling, and real estate. Developers, owners, property managers, designers, investors, public officials, and others involved in real estate decision making can learn from the case studies described in this report to create places that both support and leverage investments in active transportation infrastructure, such as bike lanes and trails. In the process, they can create real estate value and promote economic, environmental, and public health goals.