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Meet Your Downtown Development Authority PDF Print E-mail
Written by Evan Gross   
Thursday, 24 November 2011 00:18
The downtown is a city’s focal point, geographically being a point where the major roads meet and people intersect. However, socially and economically, the downtown is what gives the city an identity. The health of any city is based upon the life of its downtown, because this is what draws people in and gives visitors a sense of a community, and its support and wealth. Being the only one place where all services and needs can be distributed, downtowns support the base jobs and, in order to maintain a stable economy, it is important for a city its surrounding region to invest in a vibrant downtown district before developing outward into the fringe.
Detroit and its Neighborhoods PDF Print E-mail
Written by Evan Gross   
Tuesday, 06 September 2011 17:44

Apart from Justin Verlander's pitching, much of the discussion this summer in Detroit has been on the Mayor's new [Short Term Intervention Strategy] for the neighborhood revitalization initiative known as the Detroit Works Project. Mayor Dave Bing announced the Strategy in late July which takes a guarded step back from previous rumors of a city plan that would cut essential services away from the Detroit's more vacant and decrepit neighborhoods and force the consolidation of the City's widely spread resident population. This new "short term" plan aims to classify city neighborhoods into three categories based on vacancy and housing conditions data. The categories: "Steady", "Transitional", or "Distressed", will determine the city's revitalization focus in each of the city's neighborhoods. For example those areas classified as "Steady" will see new commercial corridor and infrastructure investment, increased code enforcement, and rapid response to fix up neighborhood blight. "Distressed" neighborhoods will see more focus on helping people through education and jobs programs, demolition of blighted structures, and more, large scale, site acquisition and project marketing. Three neighborhoods that are often considered to be stable to transitional have been designated as "demonstration areas" for the new strategy. The city will test and monitor methods of carrying out city services in these areas and evaluate their progress at the end of six months.


The Skinny on the One Kent Coalition PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 15 April 2011 01:28

Kent County and Grand Rapids seem to be leading the charge in the efforts to consolidate government through the One Kent Coalition. The coalition would create a metropolitan government for all of Kent County, superseding Grand Rapids’ and other municipality’s current governing bodies.

Former City Manager and charter member Kurt Kimball says he was inspired to join the One Kent Coalition after seeing Louisville, KY become a larger economic powerhouse after merging with surrounding Jefferson County. Kimball does acknowledge that efforts to consolidate the city and county’s libraries, parks, zoos, and museums in 1986 failed, but also encourages progressive thinking in the new economic climate.

The coalition consists of Republicans and Democrats alike, with members Tom Butcher (GVSU), Nyal Deems (former EGR mayor), Betsy DeVos, Dick DeVos, Jeanne Englehart (GR Chamber), David Frey (Grand Action), Kurt Kimball (former GR City Manager), David Leonard (Spectrum Health Corp.), Greg McNeilly (Windquest Corp.), Marge Potter (former Kent County Comm.), Jared Rodriguez (West Michigan Policy Forum), Milt Rohwer (Frey Foundation) Peter Secchia, Peter Wege, Kate Pew Wolters, Tim Wondergem and Andy Guy (Wondergem & Associates). Many stress the importance of the coalition being nonpartisan.

The One Kent Coalition has been in the planning stages for the last year, but has recently gone public after Governor Snyder’s request that cities consolidate their governments. They are hoping to have the people vote on the proposition in 2012, which would line them up to govern in 2014.

As predicted, there is plenty of skepticism. Smaller municipalities wonder where they will fit into the One Kent equation, while others simply want more transparency and concrete examples on what the consolidation efforts entail. However, the coalition is continuing to push forward on their vision to grow their region of Michigan.

An Analysis of Governor Snyder's Community Development and Local Government Reforms PDF Print E-mail
Written by Peter Croce   
Friday, 25 March 2011 00:48

Continuing his "transform and consolidate government" mantra, Governor Snyder has proposed many new plans to reform previous legislation to encourage consolidation of economic development on a state or metropolitan level, rather than our current fragmented system. His ultimate goal is to create more than just a couple great Michigan cities, but rather a whole "region" of placemaking. By adhering to the following proposals, Governor Snyder believes it will encourage economic development as well as develop a sense of place among Michiganders.

Graduation Gaps between White and African-American Students at Wayne State University PDF Print E-mail
Written by Leah Beasley-Wojick   
Wednesday, 22 September 2010 02:37

There exists an alarming problem at many higher education institutions today-a startling gap between the graduation rates of White and African American undergraduate students. Nationally, African American students earn bachelor's degrees at rates 20 percentage points below those of their White peers (Lynch & Engle, 2010, p. 2). Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan has recently garnered national attention after the release of a study by The Education Trust (2010) which reports that the institution has the worst graduation gap between White and African American students for all public institutions in the United States (Lynch & Engle). Over a three year period (2006-2008), less than one in ten (9.5%) African Americans graduates from the institution, while more than four times (43.5%) that many White students do. Not only is this an educational issue, but it is also an urban public policy issue for the city of Detroit (Lynch & Engle).


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Michael Raley is a fourth year Sociology and Public Administration/Public Policy student at Michigan State University. He is especially interested in the public policy, politics, and sociology of urban space, as well as transportation systems and public transit. A native of the Grand Rapids area, Michael is currently an intern in the office of State Representative Roy Schmidt, who represents the west and northeast sides of the city. He also aspires to pursue a career in urban and regional planning, and hopes to attend graduate school for such a course of study.

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