Bay City On the Right Track in Encouraging Attractions for Young Workers
Public Sector Report Ranks 'Quality of Life' Issues High with Entrepreneurs
December 14, 2003
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By: Dave Rogers
Bay City's vibrant downtown is anchored by Wenonah Park and highlighted often by passing Great Lakes freighters.
Bay City and Bay County appear to be right on track in development of the downtown, waterfront and social activities to provide a foundation for economic development.
"It is essential that Michigan cities follow the national trend and create economic development programs designed to increase the quality of life. Amenities and environment -- particularly natural, recreational and lifestyle amenities -- are absolutely vital in attracting knowledge workers and in supporting leading-edge high technology industries."
Those are among the main conclusions in the executive summary of a report by Public Sector Consultants (PSC) entitled "Impacts of Quality-of-life Indicators on Michigan's Cities."
The reportprovides substantial grist for the development mill in Bay City, even though it was prepared for the mayors of urban core cities along with the Michigan Business Roundtable Land Use Task Force and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.
"In the 'new economy' of the 21st Century, competition for employers and employees is fierce," the report begins. "New technologies enable many workers and many employers to locate anywhere, and young, aggressive entrepreneurs are making location decisions based largely on quality-of-life concerns."
Author Richard Florida, whose "Rise of the Creative Classes" has stirred a whole new development trend buzz, states: "Surveys and other studies of high technology businesses have found that environmental quality and natural amenities are . . . the most important factors in their choice of location.
"Cities realize that a failure to attract these desirable workers to their central cities will leave them at a competitive disadvantagein the race for revenue-generating, new economy industries."
PSC's quality of life indicator index shows that only Ann Arbor ranks at the top of its cohort of peer cities from across the nation. Grand Rapids and Saginaw rank in the middle of their cohort and Detroit and Flint rank at or near bottom of their respective cohorts. Out-migration from Saginaw between 1990 and 1996 was reported at 17 percent, while Detroit out-migration was more than 9 percent.
"Although Michigan cities are safer and healthier now than in 1999, cities still suffer from shrinking population, slowly rising income and property values, and a need to improve schools," the report states. (PSC defines education as a composite of average SAT and ACT scores, spending per pupil and pupil-teacher ratio. The educational climate is measured by a composite of colleges per capita, percentage of the population with at least a bachelor's degree and percentage of the population currently enrolled in a college or university.)
A survey of 24-40 year old new economy workers shows that 58 percent believe a vibrant downtown is critical to successful core cities, according to the report, which adds: "Without strong central cities, regions are generally weakeven if their suburbs are strong."
Economist Myron Orfield emphasizes the importance of regional cooperation: "Regional cooperation helps every community."
The entire report can be downloaded or printed by accessing www.pscinc.com.
Dave Rogers is a former editorial writer for the Bay City Times and a widely read,
respected journalist/writer in and around Bay City.
(Contact Dave Via Email at email@example.com)
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