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Issue 1207 April 10, 2011
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State Representative Charles Brunner (Left) (D-Bay City) and State Senator John Moolenaar (Right) (R-Midland) have been selected by their peers to lead the Great Lakes Bay Regional Caucus for this legislative session.

Brunner, Moolenaar to Head Great Lakes Bay Regional Caucus

Bipartisan Legislators to Promote Local Economic Growth

March 27, 2011       Leave a Comment
By: Dave Rogers

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State Representative Charles Brunner (D-Bay City) and State Senator John Moolenaar (R-Midland) have been selected by their peers to lead the Great Lakes Bay Regional Caucus for this legislative session.

The bipartisan group is working to advance the quality of life, economic vitality and regional cooperation of the Great Lakes Bay Region.

"The Great Lakes Bay Region has all kinds of assets that we need to promote aggressively in order to attract high-quality job providers and private investors to help revitalize our economy," said Brunner, a lifelong Bay County resident and former Bay City mayor, commenting:

"I'm proud to help lead that effort and also to work to keep our region's unique strengths and needs at the forefront in Lansing. The state needs to keep investing in protecting our Great Lakes, supporting the agriculture industry, growing renewable energy jobs and the other areas in which our region is a leader. I look forward to building bipartisan relationships in the Great Lakes Bay Regional Caucus so we can get results for our communities."

The Caucus consists of State Representatives and Senators representing Bay, Saginaw and Midland counties.

Other caucus members include Sen. Roger Kahn, R-Saginaw Township; Sen. Mike Green, R-Mayville; Rep. Kenneth Horn, R-Frankenmuth; Rep. Stacy Erwin Oakes, D-Saginaw; and Rep. Jim Stamas, R-Midland.

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"We have many regional strengths and by working collaboratively we can preserve and enhance our quality of life in the Great Lakes Bay Region," Sen. Moolenaar said. "As someone who has called the Great Lakes Bay Region home for my entire life, I look forward to working with my fellow area legislators on this exciting new venture."

According to Sid Allen, president and CEO of the Midland Area Chamber of Commerce, "Regionalism is making us resilient."

The regional movement began five years ago and now is picking up steam, with widespread backing.

The first regional initiative was the Great Lakes Bay Regional Leadership Institute (initially named VISION TRICOUNTY-A Regional Leadership Institute).

"The idea was that, collectively, our communities had great assets, but we needed an army of strong leaders who had a common understanding of those assets and would band together to overcome any challenges or seize any opportunities that came our way," said Mr. Allen.

The Institute is now in its fourth year and we think it is working. Our goal, early on, was to acquaint established leaders with a regional perspective. Judging from the fact we've graduated more than 100 class members who are now spreading the regional story, providing input for regional initiatives, and becoming involved in regional programs, I believe the program has been highly successful. This regional movement, whose cornerstone program was the leadership institute, in my opinion, has taken root," reports Mr. Allen, who is Chairman of the Board of the Great Lakes Bay Regional Alliance.

"The concept of regionalism has staying power," he added: "But the real value is in the results that regionalism generates for us. Just five years from when the efforts began, are we more resilient as a region than when we started.

"Even in this challenging economic climate, we can point to progress that's been made in the areas of quality of life (the Dow Diamond, joining together the rail trail systems), economic development (solar initiatives by Dow Chemical and Dow Corning, expansion of the Hemlock Semiconductor Corporation, future construction for Consumers Energy), and advocacy (establishment of the Great Lakes Bay Regional Caucus of state legislators). They're all significant projects, designed to benefit an entire region. Would they have come to fruition if they had been solely focused on their immediately-local communities?

"There's some doubt about that. But their regional focus makes them much more feasible, much more sustainable. That will eventually help us bounce back from these hard times; in other words, be more resilient!"


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Dave Rogers

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

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