Category: Michigan

Commissioner Conan Smith aims to improve opportunities for all residents in Washtenaw County, MI

Ann-Arbor-MML
Downtown Ann Arbor in Washtenaw County, MI. Photo by the Michigan Municipal League, via Flickr.

Washtenaw County, MI is located immediately west of the Detroit metropolitan area, with a population of just over 350,000 residents. A former manufacturing region, the county currently houses several major institutions that are playing a growing role in shaping the region’s economy and development patterns. The seat of Washtenaw County, Ann Arbor, MI, is home to the University of Michigan, which employs more than 30,000 people and has contributed to the growth of a vibrant, walkable business and entertainment district in Ann Arbor’s downtown. The county also houses Eastern Michigan University, Washtenaw Community College, and a major U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs medical center.

While Washtenaw County has seen significant job growth over the past several years—a recent economic forecasting study estimates that between 2009 and 2016 the region will have gained 31,147 additional jobs—economic inequality is a growing challenge for the community. County Commissioner Conan Smith, a member of Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council, is working to address this issue by promoting economic development strategies that provide all county residents with greater access to opportunities.

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Hear the recap: Repair Priorities 2014 online discussion

Yesterday we unveiled Repair Priorities 2014: Transportation spending strategies to save taxpayer dollars and improve roads. The release featured an online discussion with leaders from Smart Growth America and Taxpayers for Common Sense, as well as state transportation department representatives from Vermont, Michigan and Tennessee. Panelists shared insights and strategies for how states are managing their road repair needs in a time of constrained budgets by using tools like asset management practices; focusing repair investments on the most heavily used roads; setting aggressive targets for pavement conditions; and using cost-benefit analysis to prioritize road investments.

If you were not able to join us for yesterday’s event, an archived recording is now available.

Watch the archived webinar
Download the presentation (PDF)

Joining yesterday’s event were Roger Millar, Vice President, Smart Growth America; Steve Ellis, Vice President, Taxpayers for Common Sense; Rich Tetreault, Director of Program Development, Vermont Agency on Transportation, Polly Kent, Administer, Intermodal Policy Division, Michigan Department of Transportation; and Steve Allen, Strategic Transportation Investments Director, Tennessee Department of Transportation.

Thank you to everyone who participated. The event provided valuable insights for how states can improve road conditions for drivers and the financial outlook of America’s DOTs at the same time.

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EPA recognizes seven communities with National Award for Smart Growth Achievement

Atlanta BeltlineThe Atlanta Beltline, one of this year’s award winners. Photo by Christoper T. Martin, courtesy of Atlanta Beltline.

This morning in Washington, DC, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will recognize some of the best examples of smart growth projects in the country today.

The annual National Award for Smart Growth Achievement, established in 2002, recognizes exceptional approaches to development that respect the environment, foster economic vitality, enhance quality of life, and provide new opportunities for disadvantaged communities.

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Top 10 of 2013: Helping state DOTs innovate and excel

TDOT

This month we’re looking back at some of Smart Growth America’s brightest moments and greatest accomplishments from 2013. Today’s highlight: Our work helping state departments of transportation innovate and excel.

States across the country are facing the same challenges. Revenues are falling and budgets are shrinking. Yet state transportation officials have ambitious goals: improve safety, enhance economic opportunity, improve reliability, preserve system assets, accelerate project delivery, and help to create healthier, more livable neighborhoods, just to name a few.

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Mayor Dayne Walling on Flint, MI’s new comprehensive plan

Flint, MI
Residents of Flint, MI, at one of the many community meetings that informed the city’s new comprehensive plan. Image via Imagine Flint.

The last time Flint, Michigan approved a master plan for the city’s development, Dwight Eisenhower was president and the city’s population was nearly double what it is today. Now, for the first time in over 50 years, Flint has a comprehensive plan to guide future growth that accurately reflects the opportunities and challenges facing the city today.

The city of Flint was a 20th century boomtown, but decades of job losses, disinvestment and population decline took a hard toll on the community. Flint mayor Dayne Walling, a member of Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council, knew the city needed a new comprehensive plan that would update city policies and guide future public investments in a way that acknowledged these changes.

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Smart Growth America, MDOT and MSHDA release findings of year-long projects in five Michigan communities

Downtown Grand Rapids, MI. Photo by Keith Caterino. Downtown Grand Rapids, MI, one of five communities included in Smart Growth America’s work. Photo by Keith Caterino.

Smart Growth America is pleased to unveil a new resource today with the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) and the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA). The report, “Leading Livability: Pilot Transportation Demand Management and Mobility Management Programs of Five Michigan Communities”, is designed to help local leaders in Michigan learn how transportation and mobility improvements can strengthen their local economies and create more livable communities.

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Vice Mayor Hannah KcKinney explains the benefits of comprehensive planning in Kalamazoo, MI

Hannah McKinney, Vice Mayor of Kalamazoo, Michigan, on engaging residents in the development of a Comprehensive Plan for future sustainable development. See more interviews with local leaders here >>

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Vice-mayor Hannah McKinney on saving municipal budgets through smarter growth in Kalamazoo, MI

Hannah McKinney believes that to create strong metropolitan areas in this country we have to focus on creating strong neighborhoods. As Vice Mayor of Kalamazoo, Michigan; she’s working to make that happen in her region.

“That sense of being tied to a physical location is something that, for many people doesn’t exist anymore,” says McKinney, “We need to create neighborhoods that are unique, that are livable.”

An Advisory Board member of Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council, Hannah McKinney has served on the City Commission for 16 years. She has a long history of working to make Kalamazoo a great place to live, work, and visit. In 2003, McKinney co-chaired the Convening our Community project; a community-building initiative focused on creating a smart growth report to guide land use decisions. McKinney worked on the city’s Comprehensive Plan update, Downtown Plan, and the creation of a 2010 Master Plan to guide future growth and development, all while protecting Kalamazoo’s unique character – – and that’s only part of it.

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