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Archive for May, 2009

Olivia Pulsinelli of Business Review calls to our attention in an MLive blog post that various home builders’ associations are beginning to collaborate, or as she calls it, “building regionalism.”

Indeed this is another good example of what is at the heart of WMSA: regional collaboration. We wish the home builders the best, and encourage others to share on this blog and elsewhere the ways you are collaborating throughout West Michigan.

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The Detroit Free Press today in an editorial about a proposed regional alliance on the east side of the state points out the West Michigan Strategic Alliance as a positive example of regionalism.

Of note in the editorial and accompanying comments is the argument in Detroit and surrounding counties about whether such an alliance should include Detroit or other urban centers. The editorial points out that strong urban centers lead to strong regions, which has been a key priority of WMSA since the beginning. But not all agree with this, showing that perspective and politics can get in the way of regionalism.

Regional collaboration is not easy. Here in West Michigan, we can be grateful that so many people in government, business, and the nonprofit sector share the vision and hard work to make the West Michigan region viewed from the outside as an attractive one.

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Rick Haglund had a nice column about the importance of local governments thinking and acting with regional benefit in mind. Haglund writes for Booth Newspapers/MLive, and his column reaches the entire state, so it was encouraging that he mentions WMSA as an example of regional collaboration.

Part of the emphasis of the column is that government may need to be restructured. This is not an advocacy of abolishing townships or taking away local autonomy, but more inclined to updating structure and policy so that some decisions can be made for regional benefit. This is a point stressed as well in the Michigan Liberal blog.

Here’s hoping that the pressing economic needs currently help push some government restructuring and regional collaboration.

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The State of the Region received excellent news coverage. In addition to recaps of the event and downloadable reports on the WMSA web site, you can read the coverage so far here:

Business Review

Grand Rapids Press

Holland Sentinel

Muskegon Chronicle

More coverage should be coming soon in the Grand Rapids Business Journal and MiBiz.

 

 

 

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West Michigan ranks as high as 5th and as low as 25th according to new benchmark data comparing the eight-counties in West Michigan to 26 comparable regions in the United States. The data were released today in the “2009 West Michigan Vital Signs” report as part of the 2009 State of the Region event sponsored by the West Michigan Strategic Alliance (WMSA).

 West Michigan was compared to other regions on 14 economic, environmental, and social factors that indicate an overall quality of life for the region. The 26 peer regions were chosen as comparisons on the basis of having five or more counties, populations between 375,000 and 2.2 million, and including two or more core urban areas.

 West Michigan scored as high as 5th for teens in school and 7th for health coverage. But the region scored as low as 25th for employment change and 20th for housing cost burden.

 “This helps us know more specifically where we are doing well and where we need to focus more efforts at addressing gaps relative to other regions,” said Greg Northrup, WMSA President. “We certainly have much to be proud of, but this report also challenges us to do better in some areas.”

 WMSA and its partners established the regional indicators in 2006 as a way to use data to create a shared understanding of how the region is doing. The 2009 Vital Signs report includes updated benchmarks and regional comparisons. WMSA will continue to refine data collection to provide an even more precise picture and use data to guide efforts to improve the region.

The full Vital Signs report, as well as the annual WMSA Action Report, will be available May 14  online from the West Michigan Strategic Alliance.

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WMSA President Greg Northrup speaks to more than 400 at State of the Region.

WMSA President Greg Northrup speaks to more than 400 at State of the Region.

WMSA President Greg Northrup reminded 400 attendees to the 2009 State of the Region event that collaboration still remains the key to success for the organization and the region. He noted that increasingly he hears about collaborative efforts throughout the eight counties in West Michigan, including government, business, and nonprofit organizations.

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After a brief introduction, Bill Rustem of Public Sector Consultants hit the ground running with some poignant comments:

  • How many of you have a son or daughter who has left Michigan and is probably not coming back? 
  • If we are going to be successful in Michigan we need organizations like the West Michigan Strategic Alliance to succeed. We can’t wait for others to lead. Leadership has to come from organizations like this to define the new Michigan.
  • You in West Michigan are a model for Lansing. 
  • 2010 elections will be a sea-change in state government with Governor, House and Senate. We can’t come out of those elections looking at what divides us. We need to focus on what brings us together. We need to build bridges between black and white, city and township, east and west.

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