The Center for Community and Economic Development creates, disseminates, and applies knowledge to improve the quality of life for people in distressed Michigan communities. These goals can only be accomplished properly and effectively when local communities are involved in identifying barriers to economic innovation, and included in the process of discovering and implementing strategies that eliminate those barriers. Thus, working within the community and forging robust alliances with local organizations and institutions has been, and will continue to be, a central aspect of the Center for Community and Economic Development.
Urban Core Mayors
The Urban Core Mayors is a coalition of Michigan’s thirteen central city mayors who strive to address areas of mutual concern as well as to develop and implement an agenda for local and state policy for cities. With CCED’s provision of professional support, the opportunity to combine resources, and a common venue to share information, central city mayors engage in collaborative policy learning and leadership that strengthens and revitalizes Michigan’s economy. The Urban Core Mayors have produced several successful projects:
Brownfield Redevelopment Legislation:
The presence of industrial and manufacturing centers can have destructive effects on land, contaminating it with hazardous waste or pollution. Michigan’s industrial economy has contributed to the existence of many such contaminated areas, or “brownfields”. Understanding the burden such areas create for the health of both local citizens and local economies, the Urban Core Mayors helped craft the state’s highly regarded brownfield redevelopment legislation in 1995, which assists development projects that face economic challenges due to environmental constraints. Information on the current brownfield redevelopment board can be found here.
Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard Challenge
In 2007, the Urban Core Mayors adopted a “Resolution Setting a Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard Challenge for the State of Michigan”. This challenge acknowledged not only the environmental benefits of clean energy, but also the stabilizing effects on Michigan’s energy budget and potential for increased job opportunity and investment. The Urban Core Mayors established goals of meeting 15% of Michigan’s energy demand from renewable energy by 2015, encouraging local districts to explore available technologies for energy efficiency and renewable energy use in municipal operations, and urging the State of Michigan to adopt a Renewable Portfolio Standard based on a “15 by 15” renewable energy pledge.
Recent Policy Initiatives
In 2009, the Urban Core Mayors discussed, analyzed, and formulated strategies for enacting policies such as: prisoner reentry programs, securing financing for city projects, post-employment benefits, transportation equity networks, and environmental initiatives such as a Michigan Climate Council, U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement, and Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative.
In 2017, the Urban Core Mayors focused heavily on the Michigan economy and its need for improved infrastructure, outlining a plan to work with Governor Snyder to improve it. Additionally, Mayor Lisa Howze of Detroit led discussion on the need to enact legislation that would require suburban employers to withhold income taxes from employees who live in cities that already impose income taxes. This initiative would increase income tax collection rates, whose subsequent funding would be used to fund state endeavors.
Sidewalks to Skylines
Sidewalks to Skylines is a community partnership program that unites local and regional planners with students to foster a better understanding of the importance of planning and engage with students about planning as a profession. Moreover, this partnership identifies planning issues that may otherwise go unnoticed, giving a voice to the community while strengthening the bond between citizens and their local leaders. By utilizing social media and the valuable insight of young adults, a more thorough understanding of planning and economic development can be achieved. Sidewalks to Skylines is a multistep process that includes planners:
- Connecting with a local high school or middle school
- Visiting those schools with a lesson plan that explains planning and its value
- Giving students an assignment to take pictures of the built environment in their neighborhood and uploading those pictures to social media so the planner can see
- Gathering those photos and then going back to the school to discuss them with the students, particularly: what do these photos say about their neighborhood? What do these photos say about wider society? Does this image represent good or poor planning? What’s the message?
- Discussing their path to becoming a planner with students, and why it is a field that students should consider for the future
- Finally, and most importantly, contemplating the insights given by the next generation, and using those insights to plan community improvement projects.
Thinkers and Doers
Thinkers and Doers is an ongoing collaboration between creative and innovative thinkers of Lansing, and industrious and accomplished doers of Lansing. These collaborators meet in topic specific events to combine their skills to put community vision to action, contributing to the community’s vitality, uniqueness, and betterment. By meeting together, thinkers and doers forge lasting, worthwhile, and substantial bonds that foster social capital within the Lansing area. Recent events:
Fund This Town
In 2013, community members and leaders met to discuss how online crowd-funding and social media have the power to strengthen Lansing’s economy by connecting citizens with local businesses and start-ups. Thinkers and Doers for this event included Jeff Smith, New Economy Director of the Lansing Economic Area Partners (LEAP), and Scott Westerman, President of the MSU Alumni Association.
Lansing for Hire
In 2014, employers, employment strategists, and locals met to discuss the future of employment in Michigan. Organizations across the state explored employment gaps in the economy, and the resources available to career seekers and employers to fill those gaps. Thinkers and Doers for this event included Lou Glazer of Michigan Future, Inc., Colby Spencer-Cesaro of Workforce Intelligence Network, and Amanda Dumond of Prima Civitas.
Creativity, Action, & Service at Eastern High School
In 2015, students of Lansing’s Eastern High School and members of the Center for Community Economic Development met to discuss community service actions and public service experiences. Community leaders were also present and shared ideas for how Lansing can support its young talent to prepare them for success beyond the classroom.
Traversing The Thin Blue Line: A Discussion on Police Community Relations
As part of the Thinkers and Doers initiative, CCED held an open dialog between community members, the Lansing Police Department (LPD), the East Lansing Police Department (ELPD) and the MSU School of Criminal Justice (SCJ) on April 12, 2016. The discussion between the police and the communities covered topics involving implicit bias training, community mental health, the handling of sexual assault cases and police community outreach.