Resources & Research

Building Communities Around People


For the past several years, the League has worked tirelessly through our Prosperity Agenda and Center for 21st Century Communities, to determine what it will take to restore Michigan to a prosperous state once again. We believe that our communities are at the core of the economic turnaround, and that “place” is the huge economic driver. The disheartening facts are that we continue to lose our college graduates at an alarming rate because we don’t offer the kinds of places where they want to live. Almost half of them leave the state, and two-thirds of those who do leave choose where to live first and then find a job. For over 10 years, Michigan has been in a state of serious economic decline, one where jobs have been lost, housing foreclosures have decimated communities, and the mass exodus of talented and creative people continues at an alarming rate.

It’s time to say, “enough is enough,” and focus on what really matters: creating dynamic, walkable, sustainable communities
and regions where people want to live. It’s time to start talking about the importance of place as the economic development strategy that will create a positive, dynamic future for Michigan.

To facilitate this discussion, we developed a book that focuses on placemaking as an economic development tool, titled: The Economics of Place: The Value of Building Communities Around People. Through its work, the League has crossed paths with and forged new partnerships and collaborations with individuals, organizations, and foundations that would have seemed unlikely just a few years ago. They represent a wide breadth of backgrounds, including urbanists, researchers, practitioners, and entrepreneurs. We are very excited that you will hear from many of them—as authors of chapters in our book—as they share their stories, research, and own unique perspectives on the importance of “place” and its vital role as an economic growth strategy. You will not only read about specific Michigan challenges and its potential, but lessons learned in other places around the country as well.

Some of the highlights include:
• The importance of our young people and what it will take to keep them here
• How changing demographics are driving a different path to economic viability
• What economics of place means in the New Economy vs. the Old Economy
• How designing around people changes the way we look at a community
• Citizen engagement is a key component in building sustainable, vibrant communities
• How “social entrepreneurs” are driving change in Detroit
• Economic gardening is looking at job creation in a different way
• Placemaking management requires a different level of governance
• How cultivating the cultural assets of a community spurs economic growth
• How federal policy has impacted Michigan
The book features a foreword by Peter Kageyama, an introduction by Daniel Gilmartin and articles by Dr. Soji Adelaja
and Mark Wyckoff, Dr. William Anderson, Dan Burden, Carol Coletta, Phil Cooley, Rob Fowler and Mark Clevey,
Christopher Leinberger, John Norquist, and Dr. Joe VanderMeulen.

Each member community will receive a complimentary copy of the book.

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