Restoring Our Cities in Michigan


July 27, 2012

Michigan has a lot to be proud of, and our cities are on top of that list. This week, Governor Snyder visited a few of those great cities to enjoy some of our state's cultural gems and to partner with community leaders in finding new ways to improve the "quality of place" in our state.

What's "quality of place" mean? It's the things that make people want to move to a city or state, make a home there and be excited about everything it has to offer. That could be museums or sports, parks, rivers or lakes, entertainment, walkability, quality education, jobs and a strong economy, public transit or a sense of community.

Improving quality of place is important to attracting workers, entrepreneurs and businesses to locate, invest and expand right here in Michigan. But it's not something that government can do. That's why Governor Snyder is working with local governments, community leaders, businesses, schools and non-profit organizations to develop new ways to improve quality of place and reinvent Michigan. Last year, he created an Office of Urban Initiatives based in Detroit, Grand Rapids and Flint to lead the effort. It will also include other urban centers across the state.

The governor focused on that issue this week in stops in Detroit and Grand Rapids. On Monday, Governor Snyder was in Detroit, where he joined in a groundbreaking ceremony at the Detroit RiverWalk -- a pathway along the Detroit River that will connect parks and green spaces. Thanks to a public-private partnership, Detroit's riverfront is being reborn as a great place for citizens to run, walk, bike and play. That makes for a better quality of place. Afterwards, he attended the Governor's Service Awards, where he honored those individuals and organizations who volunteer their time to help our state - they are a key part of improving our quality of place.

From the east side of the state, Governor Snyder headed west on Thursday to Grand Rapids where he visited the Grand Rapids Art Museum (the GRAM) to check out a new exhibit called "Cities in Transition" which explores how our cities have evolved. The exhibit encourages people to think about how to make Michigan cities more livable, sustainable and innovative.

The best ideas for reinventing our cities come from the people who live and work there. Governor Snyder wants to hear those ideas, so on Thursday he convened more than 40 members of the Grand Rapids community to start a conversation about moving the city forward. Attendees included representatives from government, higher education, public schools, the arts, health care, community service organizations and businesses, among others. They brought ideas on revitalizing the urban core, breaking down barriers between cities and suburbs, and making cities more sustainable into the future. It's a conversation that will continue in Grand Rapids and all across Michigan.

 In his Special Message on Developing and Connecting Michigan's Talent, Governor Snyder explains the importance of quality of place and the role we can play:

We must not only have meaningful job options but also create and expand places where workers, entrepreneurs and businesses want to locate, invest and expand. As job creators provide increased employment opportunities, quality of place initiatives can supplement job growth and encourage talent attraction and retention...

We are all fortunate to live in Michigan. It is not just up to government or businesses to invest in our quality of place, it is up to each of us to see the beauty that Michigan already holds, embrace it and leave it better for the next generation. As I travel the state, I am inspired by young talent in our core cities doing just that; young Jewish leaders in Detroit, Art Prize contestants in Grand Rapids, the Detroit Young Professionals Organization and in Kalamazoo, beneficiaries of the Promise program.

Their optimism and energy are creating a quality of place that is uniquely Michigan.

Read more about "Quality of Place" in Governor Snyder's Special Message on Developing and Connecting Michigan's Talent. 

By Mike Brownfield
Director of Social Media for Governor Rick Snyder