Its is pretty universally accepted that our economic development resources need to shift toward the development of new economy jobs, and that entrepreneurs are the foundation for that. We need to grow jobs by ones and twos, and focus on the "right" kind of businesses, those that show the greatest probability of growth or "second stage
" businesses. The Edward Lowe Foundation has a FREE tool
for communities to use to gather information and data about the business activity in their area which is a critical first step in economic gardening
, or the practice of growing existing businesses within your community. Where does your community and region stand? How can you cultivate your economic garden?
This is the time of year that people eat, drink, and are merry, then join a yoga class, buy a treadmill and swear they will lose those twenty pounds! I met with Dan Burden yesterday and he turned me on to a new kind of diet, a "road diet." I just love that terminology and I told Dan that we've got some communities in Michigan that would benefit from the gastric bypass equivalent of a road diet! Dan is the Director of Walkable Communities
, a non-profit he founded in 1996 to promote walkabilty as a cornerstone for building vibrant communities. He is passionate about shrinking our streets and putting our focus on people first, with walkability at the center of creating livable, connected communities. He believes the types of streets that we built long ago, before automobiles ruled the world, are what we need to ensure future vitality in a community. His mission aligns perfectly with the League's 21c3 initiative and we hope to bring Mr. Burden to many Michigan communities. I'm not sure which will be more difficult, losing 20 pounds or shrinking our roads, but I think we could all benefit from the kind of diet Dan Burden prescribes!
It used to be a high school diploma could get you a great job and solid middle-class lifestyle in Michigan. Hard work meant a nice house, two cars in the attached garage and, with enough overtime, maybe even a cottage up North. Hard work still counts, but the kind of work that brings prosperity has changed and communities all over Michigan are responding. From Michigan's top of the world in Houghton-Hancock to Spartan County in East Lansing to Ypsilanti and Ann Arbor to downtown Detroit, efforts are underway to promote self-starters in high-tech and creative industries as they pursue the new American dream. TechArb
, an incubator for student-led companies, will be located right between Google and Ann Arbor SPARK
, talk about an opportunity to network with the best! What a great way to keep talent in Ann Arbor area, and to grow jobs right at home.
For too long, people have viewed "diversity" as a soft and fluffy, touchy feely, nice-thing-to-do concept. It isn't, it is an economic necessity. The Diversity and Inclusion in Government Group (DIGG) held a mini-summit in Kent County to discuss the impact of diversity on a community's ability to recruit knowledge workers. We heard some impressive statistics and information that really drove home the business case for inclusion, but the story of two young scientists deciding whether to move to Grand Rapids resonated most with me. They wanted "gourmet ghettos" that included cuisine from around the world, they wanted to know that others who speak with an accent are welcome, they wanted to see the beauty of the beaches on lake Michigan and the urban feel of walking to work and grabbing a cup of authentic cuban coffee on the way. And guess what? Michigan has it, Grand Rapids has it! Let's be sure to let the world know, one molecular biologist at a time, that we have world class, 21st century communities waiting to welcome them.