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Press Release


Matt Bach
Director of Communications
Michigan Municipal League
(734) 669-6317; C: (810) 874-1073;


New Michigan Municipal League Report Highlights Priorities in Annual State of the City Addresses

ANN ARBOR, Michigan – Each year dozens of mayors, city managers, and other local leaders give a “State of the City/Village” address in their communities in which they highlight key priorities, challenges and accomplishments. The speeches help improve transparency and connect local leaders with their constituents.

The Michigan Municipal League has just published our first report – Michigan: State of the Cities 2017 - summarizing key themes and priorities presented in these speeches. Modeled after the National League of Cities State of the Cities effort, the League’s report highlights key findings in ten top line categories such as economic development and public safety, and breaks down how the speeches addressed specific subtopics or issues within each of those broader categories. 

The League reviewed 27 State of the City speeches delivered by local leaders from across the state between January and April, 2017. The communities ranged in size from about 1,600 to almost 700,000 people. Some of the key findings in the League’s State of the Cities report include:

  • One hundred percent of local leaders spent significant time in their speech discussing issues related to economic development, with over 35 percent of total content across all speeches focused on the topic. 

  • The other most significant top-line issues included in speeches were infrastructure, public safety, housing, and budget/management issues.

  • Cultural economic development, a key element of placemaking and community prosperity, was the most frequently mentioned economic development subtopic, with over 90 percent of local leaders discussing it in their speeches.

  • Consistent with many other studies and surveys, roads, bridges, and water infrastructure were among the highest priority infrastructure subtopics identified in the speeches. Ninety-two percent of leaders spent significant time talking about roads and bridges, for example.

  • Fifty-eight percent of local leaders spent significant time discussing issues of community policing and police relations, compared to only 20 percent of other cities across the U.S. included in the National League of Cities report.

  • Almost 60 percent of leaders devoted significant time in their speeches to addressing the financial health and financial status of their communities. This is a substantially higher percent than other U.S. cities, and is likely indicative of the growing municipal finance system crisis in Michigan.

  • About 30 percent of leaders spent significant time discussing their community’s efforts to be welcoming and diverse, and several of the speeches specifically noted the importance of immigrants in their community. Many of the State of the City speeches were delivered in February or March, during a time of substantial national dialogue around Sanctuary Cities and immigration, so this finding is not surprising.

The full report can be accessed here. The Michigan Municipal League will be hosting a Breakout Session at its upcoming annual Convention in Holland (September 13 -15, 2017) entitled “2017 State of the Cities Addresses: Highlights and How-Tos.” The panel session will include a brief overview of the report highlights, and some tips and tricks from two current mayors on how to deliver an effective State of the City address. 

For more information, contact Matt Bach, director of communications, at or 810-874-1073.

Michigan Municipal League is dedicated to making Michigan’s communities better by thoughtfully innovating programs, energetically connecting ideas and people, actively serving members with resources and services, and passionately inspiring positive change for Michigan’s greatest centers of potential: its communities. The League advocates on behalf of its member communities in Lansing, Washington, D.C., and the courts; provides educational opportunities for elected and appointed municipal officials; and assists municipal leaders in administering services to their communities through League programs and services. Learn more at




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