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Region 4 Education Seminar Highlights
The Region 4 Education Seminar, held May 1 in Saint Johns, welcomed local officials from throughout mid-Michigan to Saint Johns for a day of learning and networking. Officials at the meeting received the latest information on the transportation reauthorization, nominated the city of Mount Pleasant to represent the region in the Community Excellence Award Race for the Cup, found out what's new at mml.org, and asked a panel of lawmakers what they thought of today's political landscape.
Samantha Jones Harkins, League Legislative Associate, gave an update on the latest news regarding transportation funding in Michigan and also from the federal level. She discussed the current funding crisis and ways to resolve it, the League's goals for transportation, and she encouraged members to help with the situation by joining two coalitions: www.getmichiganmoving.com and www.drivemi.org.
Dene Westbrook, League Systems Architect, walked the attendees through the new League website, emphasizing the new 21c3 section and the ability to now register online.
Alma, Bay City, and Mount Pleasant gave instructive presentations in their bid for the Community Excellence Award with Mount Pleasant taking the win for Region 4. Alma presented the Gratiot Regional Excellence & Transformation (GREAT) Plan, their 26 government partnership on a master plan (yes, 26!), while Bay City and Mount Pleasant both presented masterful building rehabilitations. Bay City restored an old train depot—a historic treasure built in 1904—into a city information and welcome center. Mount Pleasant used the concepts of new urbanism to rehabilitate a local Borden’s Creamery, after seventeen unsuccessful attempts (17th time’s the charm!). Citizens voted to tax themselves to pay for it, and certain state and federal laws had to be rewritten to get it done. It was the biggest recycling project the city has ever seen. The message is to reuse what you have, to create a sense a place, and to put the tenets of New Urbanism to use.
Speaker Mark Clevey, of the Saginaw Valley State University Center for Business and Economic Development, explained the “Entrepreneur Scorecard.” Innovation drives entrepreneurship—doing new things in new ways and old things in new ways. There are three types of entrepreneurs, with small businesses being the most productive. Mark gave Michigan’s ranking against other states on 127 matrixes.
Topping off the day, Rep. Paul Opsommer (93rd District) and Senator Alan Cropsey (33rd District) shared current items of concern in the Legislature, including the ongoing and ever-present budget issues, prison reform, and the likelihood of changes to PA 312 being seriously considered by the Legislature for the first time. It was a lively Q&A, with our local officials voicing their concerns over the poor state of our roads, the regulations that impede fixing them, and the overall burden of unfunded mandates.