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The Detroit Free Press featured a great piece that talks about how a few Detroit neighborhoods are seeing the return of investors and young professionals to the city. The article, entitled “Detroit’s profile grows as investors, young professionals return to city,” says there is good news for Midtown, New Center, and Woodbridge. Investment in the community, new businesses, art and culture, and revitalization efforts in these neighborhoods are bringing people back to Detroit.
“Hotels, theaters, art galleries, charter schools, condos and dozens of restaurants have opened, primarily in abandoned buildings, in the past year or are to open this year in Midtown, New Center and Woodbridge neighborhoods,” the article states.
One of the best parts of this article is feedback from two 29 year olds who recently moved to Midtown from New York City and Washington, D.C. They talk about why they love living in Detroit and why they prefer it over places like New York City and D.C. It’s nice to hear; “Instead of finding the dangerous wasteland often depicted on TV and in the national media, the best friends discovered a city with friendly people, eclectic hangouts and great potential,” according to the article’s author Steve Neavling.
Jennifer Eberbach is a professional journalist and writer. Find contact information on her website www.jenthewriter.info.
Each year, e.Republic’s Center for Digital Government and Digital Communities Program honors “Top U.S. Digital Cities,” which “successfully incorporate information technology into operations to better serve constituents and businesses,” according to the award's website. For the third year in a row, Ann Arbor, MI ranked in the top ten. Ann Arbor took sixth place amongst 13 cities with a population between 75,000 and 124,000 people that made the 2010 top ten list (there were a few ties this year). Ann Arbor tied with West Palm Beach, FL.
annarbor.com recently reported; “The City of Ann Arbor was recognized for several online initiatives,” which set the city apart. Some of the ways the local government is using the internet to serve constituents are listed in the article; “1) Launching an open data catalog; 2) Introducing online payment for water bills, which also allows residents to forgo paper bills by delivering electronic statements; 3) Using social networking, including Facebook, Twitter, Animoto and Foursquare; 4) Adding eTRAKiT, an online permitting and development records systems that includes planning and development information, inspection results, the ability to look up permits online and check registration with the city or schedule inspections,” according to the annarbor.com report.
Although municipal budgets are tight across the board, 2010’s recipients “continue to demonstrate the transformative power of information technology,” by budgeting in information technology, according to Director Todd Sander. “Economic conditions are bringing about a fundamental rethinking of local government structures and support strategies. It is clear from the results [of the "Digital Cities Survey"] that digital technology is a critical factor in helping organizations not only maintain, but actually improve service delivery when faced with fewer employees and smaller budgets.”
Read more of Sander’s thoughts about this year’s award recipients on the "Top U.S. Digital Cities" website or in an article released by Government Technology, an e-Republic publication.
A recent Detroit Free Press article explores how “Caring for the elderly falls on Michigan’s communities.” As the baby boom generation begins to reach retirement age, “Michigan’s 2.7 million baby boomers” are the ones “who might one day be seeking public services - things like health care, in-home meals, transportation and help with errands,” senior centers, and other services, according to the article’s author, Robin Erb.
However, federal and state dollars for senior services are “dwindling” and many older Michigan residents are concerned by how the bad economy will impact their ability to support themselves (and sometimes their aging parents) after they stop working, according to the article. “Local communities may need to shoulder more of the responsibility of paying for senior services as Michigan baby boomers hit 65,” the article reports.
Many counties, municipalities, and townships have passed and renewed senior-dedicated millages over the years - with strong support from voters. “In its analysis, the Center for Michigan reviewed 623 ballot proposals on a wide range of issues. Voters passed every single request for senior citizens,” the article reports. 63 of the 83 counties in Michigan have passed countywide senior-dedicated millages. That leaves 20 counties in Michigan where “senior centers and social service agencies rely on dwindling state and federal money, unpredictable funding from the general fund or local governments, private donations, grants and even bake sales,” the article states.
Despite reluctance from some counties to put the issue on the ballet (for a number of reasons the article touches on), the trend across most of Michigan is that voters are supporting senior-dedicated millages.
The maturation of digital technologies, the internet, and social networking has proven to be one of the most pervasive influences that impacts how people communicate and manage information in the 21st century. It is not just the twittering teenagers and web-savvy businesses who are embracing next generation "messaging and technology" - one of the "Eight Assets" the Center for 21st Century Communities (21c3) champions on this site. Digital and internet technologies are also providing government with new ways to streamline operations, share information, and communicate with citizens.
Michigan topped this year's list of “Top Digital States,” according to the 2010 Digital States Survey. The Center for Digital Government’s biannual study “examines best practices, policies and progress made by state governments in their use of digital technologies to better serve their citizens and streamline operations,” covering topics like e-infrastructure and utilizing online applications and Web 2.0., according to their website. Michigan and Utah were the only states to score an “A” grade this year, followed by “A-” recipients Pennsylvania and Virginia.
Michigan ranked high in all of the survey’s eight categories. It is 1st among all other states in the area of “Enterprise ICT (information and communications technology)” and 4th place or higher in all of the other categories - “Adaptive Leadership,” “Public Safety,” “Health and Human Services,” “Commerce, Labor and Tax,” “Finance and Administration,” “Energy and Transportation,” and “Citizen Engagement.”
The Center for Digital Government is a division of e.Republic, a public sector research, publishing, and events company. Registration is free to access numerous reports and resources on best e-practices and using digital technology for state and local governance.
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