PLACE An Agenda for a Competitive 21st Century Michigan
O n October 10, 2013, Republican and Democratic
state lawmakers joined with local government
leaders to propose bold new policies to fix
Michigan’s archaic and broken municipal finance
system and end decades of disinvestment in the state’s most
important economic areas.
At a Lansing news conference, they proposed a set of policy
changes in a plan called the “Partnership for Place: An Agenda
for a Competitive 21st Century Michigan.” The plan advances
new ways to end a decade of funding cuts to Michigan cities,
to protect future funding for local services from raids by the
Legislature, and to create the types of places across the state
where economies can prosper in today’s global economy.
Thriving communities are a key to Michigan’s long-term
success and sustainability. If we are going to compete globally
in the 21st century, then it is critical to create communities
that can attract and retain talent and enterprise. This policy
agenda proposes a commitment of action in partnership
between the state and its municipalities that will facilitate
Michigan’s economic growth and allow for the development
of places to provide key services and amenities that contribute
to a high quality of life. It focuses on a more regional approach
to service delivery, which would change the way services are
provided, how resources are dedicated, and how systems
This policy agenda proposes actions that will re-establish a
partnership for prosperity in four key areas:
Funding for the Future – Provide appropriate funds
and tools for municipalities to operate efficiently and work
regionally in order to succeed globally.
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Michigan in Motion – Shift from vehicle-based
investment to alternative modes of transportation that
accommodate all users.
Place for Talent – Attract and retain talented workers
through strategic placemaking policies.
Strength in Structure – Invest in smart, sustainable
infrastructure and development that optimizes resources
and maximizes outcomes.
It should be noted that all of the policy solutions are not
created equal. The League recognizes that in order for some of
these policy actions to realize the most benefit, basic service
needs must be met first. It brings to mind Maslow’s Triangle,
which was introduced by Abraham Maslow in 1943 in his
paper “A Theory of Human Motivation.” Maslow depicts human
motivation through a hierarchical chart of human needs, which
proceed from the basic to the more complex.
According to Maslow, basic physiological needs such as
food and water come first, followed by safety and so on, and
he suggests that you cannot move to the next level without
satisfying the previous set of needs. Unmet basic needs means
we cannot proceed to those things that bring true meaning and
satisfaction in life such as friendship, love, and the creative
expression of “self.”
We can depict our policy proposals in the same manner,
giving a visual depiction of how critical and essential it is to
obtain the basic policy changes in order for communities to be
able to move to the higher “levels” to reach the point of being
fully sustainable places. The policy recommendations can be
placed into a triangle of their own—a Hierarchy of Proposals
for Sustainable Places.