Placemaking continues to expand in Michigan

MSU Extension partners with Macomb County and MACRO to kick off placemaking with countywide summit.

On June 9, Michigan State University Extension partnered with the Macomb County Executive’s Office and MACRO (Macomb Area Communities for Regional Opportunities) to develop and host a countywide Placemaking Education and Action Summit. Placemaking is about creating the types of places that draw people to work, play and live, while addressing recent shifts in housing demand, due to changes in the economy, energy, health and other quality of life components.

This summit attracted nearly 100 people, from citizens to elected officials to county organizations and agencies. The morning was spent learning about place, demographic shifts and their impact on community and economic development. The afternoon was spent identifying local and regional assets and strategic visioning.

Attracting and retaining talented workers is critical to succeed in the global New Economy. However, because talented workers are mobile, in order to attract and retain them, a community, region or state must have many Quality Places that talented workers want to live, work, play and learn in.

Adding to this is a major demographic shift underway in America. Historically, half of the households had children. Today 75 percent of households do not have children, and the number of new households with children is declining.

Another key shift is the rise of the Millennials. They are now the largest generation cohort (yes, Baby Boomers, you have dropped to second) and a major driver for placemaking. Their preferences for more walking, less driving and activity centers close by lead them to communities with clusters of amenities. Recent market preference studies show a clear choice for mixed use, walkable places with options for social activity.

Follow-up activities from the summit include:

  • Compiling the summit data into a document with suggestions on ways to prioritize and begin developing activities to utilize the identified assets to promote and cross promote for attracting interest in local communities.
  • Identifying opportunities for communities to work together
  • Providing additional educational workshops for communities requesting it after the summit

Placemaking programs allow participants to shape what happens in their community and county. Rather than playing catch up to other places, it allows communities to be proactive and shape their future.

MSU Extension is working with other communities around the state to provide placemaking education and resources. To learn more about placemaking and how your community might initiate this education and action process, contact a MSU Extension office or Land Use educator.

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