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Michigan Municipal League

Press Release


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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 17, 2018

New Report Shows Economic Development Still Key Issue for Michigan Community Leaders

Study Highlights Priorities in Annual State of the City Addresses


ANN ARBOR, Michigan – The Michigan Municipal League just released its second annual State of the Cities report. 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.

“Local state of the city speeches are an excellent way for mayors and city managers to connect with their residents, celebrate successes from the previous year, and highlight some of the challenges and opportunities their cities are facing,” said Shanna Draheim, the League’s director of policy development, who researched the report. 

The League’s 2018 State of the Cities report summarizes key themes and priorities presented in 28 local state of the city speeches. Modeled after the National League of Cities State of the Cities effort, the League’s report highlights key findings in 11 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. 

Key findings in this year’s report include:

  • Economic development was the top issue in state of the city speeches again this year, with 100 percent of the mayors spending significant time on this topic.

  • Infrastructure and budget/management rounded out the top three issues, and both had an increased number of mayors devoting significant time to the topics this year.

  • Public safety and housing, both of which were in the top five issues in 2017 and 2016, got much less attention this year.

  • The number of mayors who spent significant time discussing issues of welcoming communities/inclusion and environment also substantially declined in 2018.

  • Almost half of the mayors spent significant time discussing accomplishments and plans related to parks and recreation in their communities. This is the first year the League has tracked this topic independently.

  • The breakdown of aggregated 2018 state of the city speech content (percentage of total words) remained similar to 2017 (see Exhibit 2), with notable decreases in total time spent on economic development and welcoming communities, and an increase in content related to management and budgets.

The full report can be accessed here. The Michigan Municipal League will be hosting a Breakout Session at its upcoming annual Convention in Grand Rapids (September 20-22) entitled “What Matters in Michigan.” The League will summarize key themes and issues from this year’s report, and participants will learn some tips and tricks for presenting a successful State of the City/Village speech. 

For more information, contact Matt Bach, communications director, at or (734) 669-6317.

About the League: 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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