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Archive for the ‘Regional Indicators’ Category

Greg Northrup  spoke recently with Candace Beeke of the Business Review about regionalism in West Michigan.

Beeke and her colleagues at Business Review do a good job sensing that regionalism is a trend. They also notice that it is easier to talk about collaboration than it is to make meaningful accomplishments.

But we remind West Michigan residents to consider the accomplishments in regional collaboration that have been made as we’ve moved from planning when WMSA was formed  10 years ago to action in the most recent years.

For example, WIRED, the Green Infrastructure project, and the Internship Initiative to name several efforts that required input and action from people across the region. Read more about those efforts in categories on this blog or at the WMSA Web site.

Also, keep in mind that those are just projects started by WMSA. Our mission has always been “to be a catalyst for regional collaboration.” So we take pride in any example of regionalism, whether we’re involved in it directly or not. Such examples are increasing every year.

Finally, if you want to really understand the benefits of regionalism you need to consider how regions–not just cities– are compared in a national and global context. You can learn more about that by attending our “State of the Region” event on April 27 at the Pinnacle Center in Hudsonville. As in past years, we will present the “Vital Signs” report, comparing West Michigan to 26 other regions on a set of key economic, environmental, and social indicators. If you are interested in attending, registration information is online.

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Site Selection Magazine ranked the State of Michigan 3rd in new economic development projects for 2009.

Meanwhile, for metropolitan areas with a population between 200,000 and 1 million, Grand Rapids-Wyoming was tied  for 3rd with Baton Rouge, and the Holland-Grand Haven metro was 5th in the country.

In an era with lots of bad economic news, and in which Michigan seems to be singled  out as an example of bad economic situations, this is particularly good news.

As Tim Mroz of The Right Place pointed out: “It means that the state and especially West Michigan are growing new projects faster than almost every other area of it’s size in the country.”

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Since WMSA has always advocated improving and promoting the quality of life in West Michigan, it was exciting to see that one of our region’s cities–Holland–ranked second in a national survey of citizens about their perceived happiness with their community.

The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, based on interviews with more than 353,000 Americans during 2009, asked individuals to assess their jobs, finances, physical health, emotional state of mind and communities. Holland ranked second, behind Boulder, Colorado, and the only eastern city in the top 10 besides Washington, D.C.

Holland ranked near the top in emotional health, physical health, and basic access to needs for a healthy lifestyle.

More about the study and local reaction can be found in the Holland Sentinel, and a national perspective is in USA Today.

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Ten years ago when the West Michigan Strategic Alliance was formed, there were hundreds of people from around the region who met to discuss the problems we faced. That was important work. In the past decade, we have done much to address the problems in our economy, environment, urban centers, and society at large (learn more about WMSA history).

So, there comes a time to talk positively about the state. We can celebrate past achievements, and also address ongoing problems with hope instead of despair.

So it’s nice to see that Rapid Growth Media is launching a speaker series on “Touting Michigan” to do just that.

Meanwhile, a new Pure Michigan Living Web site and campaign were launched this week to also celebrate the positive attributes of Michigan.

Here’s hoping both the event series and campaign generate some positive momentum for both the state and the West Michigan region.

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You may have heard about WMSA’s Regional Indicators  initiative and the “Vital Signs” reports produced to compare West Michigan to other regions around the country. 

If you haven’t done so before, you are invited to have input on this process as the work for the 2010 “Vital Signs” report begins. 

WMSA will be hosting a work session October 29 to discuss indicators  and targets for achievement to measure the region. We hope you can attend and provide your valuable input.

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WMSA has just released a report on recycling in West Michigan. You can also read a news release about the report.

Generally speaking, communities across the region have good programs. One problem identified was small businesses left out of curbside programs. Also, residents are not always fully aware of programs and how they work. Participation could be higher.

One recommendation in the report is to work towards a regional recycling program to encourage greater participation and more cost savings for municipalities. What are your thoughts?

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WMSA’s Regional Indicators Initiative is an effort  to measure West Michigan and compare  it to other regions. Data collected so far has given us a good benchmark of the region. 

Now, WMSA and various partners are working not just to see where we are but to set goals for where we want to be in 5 years by setting regional achievement targets. Let us know if you want to be involved in the process.

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