October 28, the League hosted - with generous sponsorship from the MDEQ Office of Environmental Assistance - approximately 60 leaders from state and local government and non-profit organizations in Lansing for the 2nd Michigan Green Communities conference. As with the first Green Communities conference in 2010, the focus was on sharing local solutions for environmental sustainability. We were once again blown away by the enthusiasm of people working on these issues as well as by the quality of the local projects discussed. There were a couple notable changes from the first conference, however.
The first difference was the list of topics covered has grown more diverse. Presenters educated their peers on a range of issues, including:
- Economic Gardening
- Global Economic Competitiveness
- Local Food Networks
- Water Conservation and Management
- Curbside Recycling
- Joint Planning Commissions
- Property Assessed Clean Energy Financing
- Electric Vehicle Infrastructure
- Complete Streets
Videos and slides from the presenters, as well as notes from the discussion groups, are now available at http://www.mml.org/resources/educenter/2011-green_communities_conference.html.
The other major change from 2010 is that the network of Green Communities in Michigan is larger and stronger. We have a new email newsletter and will continue our series of monthly conference calls. Also in 2012 we are expanding our partnerships with the state-funded Energy Demonstration Centers, which will include regional workshops and training sessions. If you're not already on our email list, contact email@example.com. And please continue to share your thoughts on how to help community leaders across the state connect and learn from one another.
Luke Forrest is a Project Coordinator with the Michigan Municipal League. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org, www.twitter.com/l4est or 734-669-6323.
Its is pretty universally accepted that our economic development resources need to shift toward the development of new economy jobs, and that entrepreneurs are the foundation for that. We need to grow jobs by ones and twos, and focus on the "right" kind of businesses, those that show the greatest probability of growth or "second stage
" businesses. The Edward Lowe Foundation has a FREE tool
for communities to use to gather information and data about the business activity in their area which is a critical first step in economic gardening
, or the practice of growing existing businesses within your community. Where does your community and region stand? How can you cultivate your economic garden?