New UM Study Shows More Michigan Communities Embracing Placemaking as Economic Driver

Posted on January 22, 2014 by
Brighton is one of many Michigan cities to embrace the placemaking concept.

Brighton is one of many Michigan cities to embrace the placemaking concept.

A new study released today (Jan. 22, 2014) by the University of Michigan’s Ford School of Public Policy shows that more local governments than ever before are utilizing placemaking as an economic development tool in their communities.

The Michigan Municipal League for several years has promoted placemaking as an economic driver and it’s extremely encouraging to see the concept taking hold and making a different in so many Michigan communities, said League CEO and Executive Director Dan Gilmartin.

“These survey results further prove that local government leaders not only increasingly talk the placemaking talk, but that they also walk the placemaking walk,” Gilmartin said.

Placemaking is a community and economic development strategy that attempts to capitalize on local assets to create appealing and unique places where people want to live, work, and play.

“In placemaking, communities use what they have whether it’s arts, cultural amenities, parks, architectural design, lakes or walkable streets to create a strong bond between people and the places they live,” said Tom Ivacko, administrator and program manager for the Ford School’s Center for Local, State, and Urban Policy (CLOSUP).

The poll, part of the Michigan Public Policy Survey series at CLOSUP, reports:

– 51 percent of Michigan’s local leaders say they believe placemaking can be effective in their jurisdictions as of 2013, compared to 39 percent who reported confidence in placemaking’s effectiveness in 2009.

– Even in jurisdictions that are not engaged in placemaking efforts, 35 percent of local leaders say it would be an effective strategy for their jurisdictions, and just 12 percent believe it would be ineffective.

– Local leaders see links between placemaking and entrepreneurship, but say they face barriers to attracting more entrepreneurs including access to capital (72 percent), unappealing buildings and landscape design (29 percent), deteriorating infrastructure (27 percent), lack of late night entertainment (26 percent) and information technology infrastructure (21 percent).

– Jurisdictions in Southeast Michigan (55 percent) were the most likely to pursue placemaking in 2013, followed by those in the Upper Peninsula (37 percent), the Northern Lower Peninsula (33 percent), the Southwest and West Central Lower Peninsula (each at 29 percent), and the East Central Lower Peninsula (25 percent).

The League and other proponents of place-based economic development argue that by creating vibrant downtowns, neighborhoods, or public spaces, and improving a community’s quality of life, talented workers will be drawn to move there, and they will attract new businesses as well as start their own.

View a press release about it here. And you can go to for more on the placemaking concept and examples of placemaking in action throughout Michigan

Matt Bach is director of media relations for the Michigan Municipal League. He can be reached at [email protected] and (734) 669-6317.

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