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CONTACT: Matt Bach
League Town-Gown Bill Passes House in Bi-Partisan Vote
LANSING, Mich. (July 1, 2010) —College and university communities could soon have a whole new way to grow in Michigan, thanks to new “town-gown” legislation that moved one step closer to reality today by passing the State House of Representatives on a 76-30 vote.
The Michigan Municipal League worked closely with bill sponsor Rep. Ed Clemente (D-Lincoln Park) on HB 6243, seeing it as an important key to fostering economic development partnerships between communities, business, and education – identified in the League’s Prosperity Agenda and 21st Century Communities (21c3) project as one of the eight vital assets a community needs to grow and thrive in the future.
“This tool is intended to foster cooperation between universities and communities to attract, retain, and expand knowledge-based industries and talent in Michigan, which in turn will help to diversify the state's economy," said Clemente. "A program similar to this has helped restore south Philadelphia.”
The legislation would create Qualified Educational Opportunity Districts in communities with colleges or universities. The districts would capture funds in the same fashion as a Downtown Development District, using the monies to fund economic development projects with an education focus. The town-gown districts would help attract talent and jobs in the new economy, which are crucial to a community’s prosperity in the years ahead, said League Assistant Director of State Affairs Andy Schor .
“Communities working in partnership with higher education is a jobs and economic development driver,” said Schor. “Research continually shows the positive economic relationship that occurs when communities partner with higher education. This includes business opportunities such as incubators, entrepreneurs, retail and other economic development benefits.”
The bill was also hailed by City of Linden Mayor David Lossing.
“The efforts by State Representative Ed Clemente will help further strengthen the relationship between the state institutions of higher education and their local communities as Michigan transfers from a manufacturing-based economy to a knowledge-based economy," said Lossing, who is also Director of Government Relations at the University of Michigan-Flint and a member of the MML Board of Trustees. " These new tools will allow the local communities to really engage their local public and private universities and community colleges.”
The bill was originally limited to public schools, but former League President and current Rep. Woodrow Stanley (D-Flint) passed an amendment to add private schools as well. Rep. Marty Knollenberg (R-Troy) also added an amendment that prohibits the captured public dollars from being spent on college and university buildings.
The bill now moves on to the Senate for consideration.
The Michigan Municipal League advocates on behalf of its member communities in Lansing, Washington D.C., and the courts; provides educational opportunities for elected and appointed municipal officials; and assists municipal leaders in administering services to their communities through League programs and services.