Governor Granholm Salutes Michigan Communities Named America’s Most Livable
LANSING – Governor Jennifer M. Granholm today praised the selection of Marquette County, the Traverse City Region, and the City of Grand Rapids as “America’s Most Livable Communities” by a national nonprofit organization dedicated to restoring and renewing America’s communities. The three Michigan honorees received their awards during a ceremony this afternoon at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.
“These Michigan communities are proof that a community can successfully meet the challenge of becoming a great place to live, work, and play,” Granholm said today. “As we move forward on our Cool Cities initiative, Marquette County, the Traverse City Region, and Grand Rapids serve as models for what can be achieved when people work together.”
The Governor plans to recognize the communities later this spring in Lansing.
The “America’s Most Livable Communities” award recognizes communities for their novel approach to economic development, utilizing assets such as arts and culture resources, creative financing strategies, and collaborative leadership to re-animate downtowns and develop their communities so that they become competitive in the new global arena.
Granholm noted that many of the factors taken into consideration by Partners for Livable Communities, the sponsoring organization, are the same factors Michigan is encouraging with its Cool Cities initiative now underway. Last fall, Granholm invited Michigan cities to participate in the Cool Cities effort by encouraging them to form local advisory boards to begin a local dialogue on how they can become more attractive places for people to live, work, and play. This spring the state is preparing to announce 12 pilot projects that will channel state resources to communities that have best outlined a plan for reinvigorating their areas.
The Grand Rapids area was one of eleven cities selected in the mid-sized cities category, while Marquette County and the Traverse City Region were two of five areas selected in the regions category. There were a total of thirty cities that received recognition. Partners for Livable Communities noted these facts about the Michigan communities:
In 2003, Marquette County was honored with the All-American County award, which celebrates the community’s aggressive efforts to leverage its unique assets and strengths and its creative approaches to community building and economic development. The region’s spectacular beauty, varied terrain, diversity of natural resources, abundance of snowfall, and acres of public land make Marquette County an excellent location. Nearby Sawyer International Airport and ubiquitous high-tech wireless/broadband availability makes access to and from the region effortless. The area’s dedicated and skilled workforce and ongoing educational and technical training opportunities give employers a distinct advantage in the global marketplace.
Agriculture is certainly a vital business in the Traverse City Region, but the community’s economy is built on more than just succulent fruit. Manufacturing and industry are flourishing, while new construction is expanding retail, office, hotel, and living space. Vineyards and winemaking ventures are becoming more successful every year. Also contributing to the community's health and growth are medical facilities, high tech ventures, oil and gas companies, a college, and a university center. In fact, Site Selection Magazine twice named Traverse City the top small town in America when it comes to business growth. Located at the bases of East and West Grand Traverse Bay, the area is also a popular travel destination.
Since its inception in 1997, the Grand Rapids Renaissance Zone has been one of the most effective incentives for encouraging investment and job creation in the core city. Grand Rapids originally identified 780 parcels in six areas of the city as virtually tax free for 15 years. For the most part, the properties were vacant, underutilized, obsolete and/or contaminated. From 2000 to 2002, the City expanded the zone by adding 28 projects. Unlike the original properties, these sites are tied to a development agreement, which requires property owners to make certain investments and create jobs. In the past six years, Grand Rapids documented 119 projects completed or underway in the zone. Over $247million have been invested and 1,946 jobs created.
America's Most Livable Communities is a project of Partners for Livable Communities, a national non-profit organization working to restore and renew America's communities. Founded in 1977, Partners was the first national group to raise the banner of livability as both a consumer goal and a standard of excellence for municipal performance.
Partners has long been champion of the economics of amenities: the interrelationship between a community's quality of life and its ability to attract and retain business investments, stimulate convention and visitor trade, increase downtown retail activity, and improve the city's image to residents and non-residents alike.
For more on America’s Most Livable Communities visit: www.mostlivable.org
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