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2008 Annual Convention

The Word from the Island!

Wednesday, October 1

Daniel GilmartinLeague Executive Director and CEO, Dan Gilmartin, kicked off MML’s 110th Annual Convention this afternoon with an emphasis on creating communities for the next 50 years, not the past 50 years.  

He presented the brutal facts:

  • Manufacturing as we
    know it is gone.

  • Quality of life is declining. 
    (In 2006, we dropped 10 places
    in 6 years in per capita income.)

  • Talented Millennials (college grads) between the ages of 24 and 35) are highly mobile and don’t want to live here.

  • Statistics show that 46% of our college grads leave MI after school.

  • Two-thirds of them choose where to live first, then look for work.

  • We’re not adapting to the knowledge-based economy.

  • We’re under-investing in our universities and community colleges.

  • States that are prospering in the U.S. have at least one major thriving metropolitan area with a high concentration of young, creative talent.

It’s up to us, Gilmartin stated emphatically.  With Michigan’s economic challenges and a term limited Legislature, it is paramount that we identify new and creative ways to keep our young, educated population from choosing to live in other states.  And with folks today choosing a place to live first, it is imperative that that we are creating vibrant, creative communities in which they wish to live.  It is important that each of our communities create their own “sense of place” that will drive people to live, raise families and retire in Michigan.

What will it take to develop these types of communities?  Gilmartin stated that across the country and the world, these places are characterized by downtowns and neighborhoods that are vibrant places where people live and work in closer proximity, where the development preference is mixed-use commercial/ residential, live-work places and buildings that generally go up instead of out.  There are "third places" and public spaces where people can easily meet.  These might be restaurants, clubs, bars, cafes or even a public square or plaza.  These communities also have available cultural amenities such as museums, theaters, and libraries.  There are also a number of open green spaces like parks, trails, and greenways.  Most importantly, all of these are easily accessible through various modes of transportation—walking, biking, and public transit.  And finally, the community culture is one of being welcoming to all and working to foster the growth of entrepreneurs. 

Gilmartin posed the question “what can we do?”

  • Stop the negative talk about Michigan

  • Be open to a new way of doing things

  • Highlight community uniqueness

  • Expand creative regionalism

  • Market ourselves differently using Web 2.0 tools

  • Be bold visionary local leaders, and

  • Invest in our communities and view “sense of place” as a key economic development tool.

In his closing remarks, Gilmartin assured the audience that the League will continue to push our mission and brand “Better Communities.  Better Michigan.”  Not only will the League continue to be an ambassador of this message, but will provide strategic tools for our members so that they can create communities for the next 50 years, not the past 50 years!  


Thursday, October 2

Friday, October 3

Saturday, October 4




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