Advocacy Blue Arrows

Michigan Prosperity Agenda: Honoring Michigan’s Community Builders

We often talk about the importance of having great communities in our state. Communities can and should be the economic drivers of Michigan. A strong community encourages innovation and attracts residents, visitors, businesses and jobs. But every community is only as good as its people.

It takes people to make decisions and choices that make communities great. Sometimes these are not easy or even popular decisions. This takes leadership.

On this month’s Prosperity Agenda radio show on News/Talk 760 WJR we talk to some of those leaders and key people working to make Michigan’s communities great. Some of them were recently honored in Lansing as more than 400 local leaders from throughout the state went to the state’s capital for the Michigan Municipal League’s annual legislative conference (March 22-23, 2016).

Michigan Municipal League CEO and Executive Director Dan Gilmartin is the host and is joined each month by a co-host. This month’s co-host is Kevin Elsenheimer, executive director of the Michigan State Housing Development Authority, which is also co-sponsor of the program. Our guests are Dearborn Mayor and Michigan Municipal League President Jack O’Reilly; Grand Rapids Mayor and Michigan Municipal League Vice President Rosalynn Bliss; former Grand Rapids Mayor George Heartwell; Marja Winters Farrow, of Benton Harbor and Detroit; and Ypsilanti Mayor Pro Tem Lois Allen Richardson.

THIS MONTH’S SHOW aired March 23 on News/Talk 760 WJR, and you can listen by clicking the links below.Listen as we talk about the conference and how people are building better Michigan communities.

View past radio shows here. You can also listen anytime by clicking on the audio links below or by subscribing to the FREE iTunes podcast. Learn more about the League’s placemaking work here on this blog.

Listen to the full show: (37:50)



Dan Gilmartin

Dan Gilmartin, executive director and CEO of the Michigan Municipal League, explains that the Prosperity Agenda radio show is about challenging listeners to help make Michigan a better place to live, work and play. Gilmartin said having vibrant and prosperous local communities is a key factor.

- Dan Gilmartin explains this month’s show. (1:04)


Kevin Elsenheimer

Kevin Elsenheimer is the executive director of the Michigan State Housing Development Authority. Prior to joining MSHDA in April, Kevin served as a Michigan State Representative and had leadership roles in the state’s Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs and Michigan Worker’s Compensation Agency. While MSHDA is focused on housing it also works hard to build communities.


- “There’s more to a community than just housing. And there’s more to housing than just bricks and mortar,” Kevin explains the importance of having a sense of place. Listen to hear more. (6:18)

Chuck Marohn

Rosalynn Bliss and George Heartwell

Rosalynn Bliss is the mayor of Grand Rapids and current Michigan Municipal League vice president. She’s joined on the show by former Grand Rapids Mayor George Heartwell. Mayor Bliss nominated Heartwell for the Michigan Municipal League’s prestigious Michigan A. Guido Leadership and Public Service award. They talk about their work in West Michigan and about what leadership means in guiding a community.

- Bliss discusses what being mayor has been like in her first two months on the job and Heartwell explains some of the things he’s most proud of during his tenure with the city. (10:40)

Marcus Peccia

Jack O’Reilly

Jack O’Reilly has served as mayor for Dearborn since 2007, and has been an elected public servant for over 23 years, including serving 17 years as the president of the Dearborn city council. O’Reilly has consistently demonstrated his commitment to Dearborn neighborhoods and has proposed a number of initiatives to re-invent its older neighborhoods.

- O’Reilly discusses recent work in moving city municipal offices, leadership and how to survive an economic downturn, plus much more. Check it out. (10:03)

Joe Borgstrom

Lois Allen-Richardson

Lois Allen-Richardson has served on the Ypsilanti City Council for 15 years, becoming mayor pro tem in 2011. She has also been heavily involved with the Michigan Black Caucus of Local Elected Officials since its inception in 2004, and has served as its president since 2012. And she is a past member of the Michigan Municipal League Board of Trustees.

- Allen-Richardson discusses what it means to her to receive the League’s prestigious Jim Sinclair Exceptional Service Award. (9:36)


Feb 24, 2016: Overcoming Obstacles to Make Placemaking Happen

Jan 27, 2016: Making the most of Michigan winters

Dec 23, 2015: Connecting Michigan Through Higher Education

Nov 25, 2015: Striving for a Welcoming & Diverse Michigan Program Explores How to Make a Better Michigan

Oct 29, 2015: A Look at Making Walkable, Pedestrian-Friendly Communities in Michigan

Sept 23, 2015: Program Aims To Make Cities More Attractive and Livable

Aug 26, 2015: Philanthropy Making a Difference in Michigan Communities

July 22, 2015: Festivals Helping Create Sense of Place in Our Communities

June 24, 2015: Michigan is Redeveloping its Way to Economic Vibrancy

May 27, 2015: Farmers Markets Helping Michigan’s Communities, Economys

April 22, 2015: Building Better Communities

March 25, 2015: A Conversation with Governor Snyder about Proposal 1 Program Explores How to Make a Better Michigan

Feb 25, 2015: What Made You Fall in Love with Your Michigan Community?

Jan 28, 2015: Attracting and Retaining Talent Vital to Michigan’s Future

Dec 29, 2014: Strong Town Strength Test

Nov 26, 2014: Crowdfunding Efforts Helping to Move Michigan Forward

Oct 22, 2014: Placemaking Stories Detailed in New League Book

Sept 24, 2014: The Economic Development Role that Arts and Culture Play in a Community

Aug 27, 2014: The Economic Development Role that Arts and Culture Play in a Community

July 23, 2014: What We Can Do to Make Michigan More Immigrant-Friendly

June 25, 2014: Placemaking and Michigan's Aging Population

May 28, 2014: A Conversation from the National Main Streets Conference in Detroit!

April 23, 2014: Revenue Sharing and the Importance of Investing in Communities

Mar 26, 2014: Crowdfunding Movement; Making a Better Michigan

Feb 26, 2014:Placemaking is a vital part of making our state prosperous again

Jan. 22, 2014:Jobs, jobs and more jobs

Dec. 20, 2013:“PlacePlans” effort taking hold and improving communities across the state

Nov. 27, 2013:The National Media’s Perspective on What is Happening in Detroit

Oct. 23, 2013:The League’s efforts toward an urban policy agenda that moves Michigan toward prosperity

Sept. 25, 2013:Strategic lessons on placemaking from the League’s annual conference in Detroit

Aug. 21, 2013:Michigan’s Port Communities – a Vital Element in the State’s Economic Prosperity

July. 24, 2013:Michigan cities and downtown centers experiencing population growth despite challenges

June. 26, 2013:Complete Streets – Designing roadways to accommodate all users, not just motorists

May. 22, 2013:Engaging citizens is vital to creating prosperous communities

Apr. 24, 2013: Repurposing Property Through Private and Public Partnerships to Revitalize Communities

Mar. 27, 2013: Town-Gown Partnerships Between Cities and Universities Helping to Move State Forward

Feb. 27, 2013: Retiring Baby Boomers Provide Opportunity to Communities

Jan. 23, 2013: Aging in Place

Dec. 26, 2012: Placemaking in Michigan – A Year in Review

Nov. 26, 2012: What is Placemaking and What is MSHDA’s Role in It?

Oct. 24, 2012: Embracing Green Technology in Neighborhood Revitalization

Sept. 26, 2012: Entrepreneurs are Key to Economic Turnaround

August 22, 2012: The MIplace Partnership Initiative Improving Cities and Neighborhoods

July 25, 2012: Arts and Culture Important to Placemaking

June 27, 2012: Entrepreneurs Key to Thriving Michigan Communities

May 23, 2012: Attracting Talent Key to Michigan's Future

April 25, 2012: How Do We Bring it Back to Michigan?

March 28, 2012: Vibrant Michigan Downtowns Good for Business

Feb. 18, 2012: Making Our State More Sustainable

Jan. 25, 2012: The Benefits of Federal Funding for Neighborhood Stabilization

Dec. 29, 2011: The Year in Review

Nov. 27, 2011: Transportation in the State and the Role it Plays in Michigan's Future Economic Prosperity

Oct. 26, 2011: League’s Recently Released Book Emphasizes Quality of Place to Michigan’s Economic Prosperity

Sept. 26, 2011: How will Michigan’s foreclosure crisis impact the state’s future prosperity

August 24, 2011: League Releasing Book Emphasizing Quality of Place

July 27, 2011: What's Happening in Detroit and Other Communities to Make Michigan Better

June 22, 2011: What's Happening in Detroit and Other Communities to Make Michigan Better

May 25, 2011: Why Transit Matter's to Michigan's Future Prosperity

April 27, 2011: Why Place Matters to Michigan's Future Prosperity

Mar. 23, 2011: Gov. Rick Snyder’s Proposed Budget and What it Means for Michigan

Feb. 23, 2011: Gov. Rick Snyder’s Proposed Budget and the Potential Impact on Michigan Cities

Jan 26, 2011: Civic Engagement and Getting People Involved in the Community

Dec 23, 2010: Why Higher Education is Among Main Pillars for Building Michigan's Future

Nov 24, 2010: New Leadership and the Impact on Jobs, Education and Quality of Life

Oct 20, 2010: Michigan Governor Candidates Talk Cities

Sept 23, 2010: Economic Development and Entrepreneurship

Aug 25, 2010: Green Initiatives

July 28, 2010: Economic Gardening

June 23, 2010: Rightsizing Cities

May 26, 2010: Attracting and Retaining Talented Young People

Apr 28, 2010: The New Urban Neighborhood

Mar 24, 2010: Arts, Entertainment and Culture

Feb 24, 2010: Talking Transit

Jan 27, 2010: Making a Better Michigan





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