Ann Arbor among five regions to be focused on in Mackinac Policy Conference panel on Wednesday

Session to explore Michigan's broken municipal financing system

By Matt Giles - Associate Producer

Mackinac Island's Grand Hotel, where the Mackinac Policy Conference takes place. (Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

ANN ARBOR - Memorial Day has concluded, and in Michigan that can mean only one thing: the Mackinac Policy Conference begins Tuesday, which every year aims to tackle the top issues facing Michigan and its cities.

In an article posted earlier this week by the Detroit Free Press, it was noted that one of the panels will partially focus on Ann Arbor, specifically it and four other urban areas' -- metro Detroit, Grand Rapids, Lansing and Kalamazoo -- broken municipal financing system, an issue impacting the state as a whole.

The panel, entitled "Not Open for Business: Why Disinvestment in Michigan Cities Is Hampering Economic Opportunity," begins at 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday and will feature an introduction from Ridgway White, president of the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation; speaker Rep. Dan Kildee (D-MI 5); panelists Chris Coleman, former mayor, city of St. Paul, Minnesota; Gordon Krater of Plante Moran; Anthony Minghine, chief operating officer and deputy executive director of the Michigan Municipal League; and moderator Doug Rothwell, president and CEO of the Business Leaders for Michigan. 

The description of the panel is as follows: 

As Michigan looks to create greater economic opportunities and attract top talent from around the world, investing in cities must remain a top priority. However, the state continually ranks dead last in the country for funding infrastructure and services that improve citizens’ overall quality of life. This session will explore Michigan’s broken municipal financing system, discuss the value of vibrant communities to the state’s economy, and lay the groundwork for a statewide education campaign calling for a funding model that encourages renewed investment in communities.

According to John Gallagher of the Detroit Free Press, the five regions focused on in this panel "produce more than $3 of every $4 of economic output in the state. To be precise, those five metros generated about $328 billion of the state's $426 billion in gross domestic product as of the end of 2016," Gallagher wrote. 

"Yet despite their enormous economic output and financial strength, these regions, like a host of smaller cities in Michigan, continue to suffer from shaky municipal finances, deteriorating infrastructure and a general sense of not getting their due from the state's political leadership," Gallagher wrote.

Do you agree? What are your thoughts on Ann Arbor's municipal finances? Can a panel at the Mackinac Policy Conference help to solve the issue(s)? Let us know!

Read the full article from the Detroit Free Press here

Learn more about the Mackinac Policy Conference, including the full agenda, here

Check out more Ann Arbor events on the A4 Community Calendar 

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