This past week I had two opportunities to learn about how communities are sharing services across our state. First was a conference of those communities that have received seed funding through the "Centers for Regional Excellence" Program. Examples included the promotion and marketing efforts of the "Breezeway" along M-32 in northern Michigan, the Antrim County Forensic team, Eastern UP Maritime collaboration to efforts in Southeast Michigan along the VanDyke/8 mile Gateway, Capital area Community Media Channel, Aerotroplis, Genessee County Health Initiative and Woodward Avenue Virtual map.
Later in the week, I had a great visit in Gaylord as the Northeast Michigan Council of Governments hosted a morning-long forum on service sharing and collaboration. While part of the focus was to discuss the Shared Public Service Initiative being undertaken by the League Foundation and State of Michigan, most of the morning was dedicated to learning about what's going on in NE Michigan. I gained a greater understanding fo such initiatives as the US-23 Heritage Route Collaborative, the Charlevoix/Cheboygan/Emmet county 911 program, Rogers City Area Fire Authority and Alpena's High-Speed Internet Fiber Consortium, which is not just between local units but involves many community stakeholder groups, both public and private.
For me, this past week proved once again that there are good things happening in communities across our state. If policy makers in Lansing would only open their eyes a bit more, they'd see that and better understand that innovation and collaboration is already under way where it usually begins... in our hometowns.
Arnold Weinfeld is Director of Strategic Initiatives for the Michigan Municipal League. He can be reached at 517-908-0304 or by e-mail.