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New Web Site Touts Michigan Places For Economic Development

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 It’s all about making Michigan communities “great places” to work and live.

That’s what organizers of the Great Place Network think. They created www.GreatPlaceNetwork.org, an interactive Web site intended to connect bright and imaginative job-creators, economic developers, regional and state policy makers, Michigan State University experts and the general public.

The Web site offers a platform for communities, regions, businesses, stakeholders and others to share great ideas and learn how to make great places, also known as placemaking. GreatPlaceNetwork.org features experts discussing placemaking issues ranging from economic development strategies to urban design to the arts.

“Places are where people work, play, learn and build lives and families,” said Dave Ivan, MSU Extension specialist with the Greening Michigan Institute. “Great places attract people who seek to make their mark and end up stimulating the economy. This Web site is all about making Michigan places attractive to talented people.”

Launched in early November, the site offers individuals and groups the opportunity to post content, have discussions and build relationships. Individuals can come together and join groups of mutual interest. The site uses social media tools, such as Facebook and Twitter, to foster discussions about regional strategies for economic development, helping local communities work together to compete in a global market and capture great ideas for the state.

On the Web site, members join to:

* Actively engage in re-thinking Michigan.
* Use the platform to discuss specific strategies for their region.
* Learn about great places in Michigan and the latest placemaking activities and cutting-edge research.
* Get credible information from MSUE and MSU Land Policy Institute experts.
* Learn about and publicize regional and statewide events.
* Foster connections through groups and profiles.
* Discuss case studies about placemaking efforts, policy and strategy.
* Share best practices and information about great places in the discussion forums.

“Michigan has too many things going for it to write it off,” said John Warbach, associate director of the Land Policy Institute at MSU. “It has the bones in its metro regions. It has abundant natural resources. It has creative people and universities. Many places that had previously suffered dramatic economic decline — Boston, Chicago, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia — have reinvented themselves as vibrant and thriving places. Young people flock to those cities. For Michigan places to turn around, they too need to recognize the importance of arts and culture, vibrant downtowns, entertainment, universities, modern transit, parks and trails, support services for entrepreneurs and innovators, increased connectivity, safe places and a culture of tolerance. Some of that is already going on in Michigan regions. A lot more needs to happen. It’s very exciting to see it all together on one Web site.”

GreatPlaceNetwork.org encourages those interested in joining discussions like the one Warbach has started, “Moving In,” to set up an account. Members can add to that forum and several others.

“The Great Place Network is an excellent tool for anyone looking to collaborate around moving Michigan forward,” said GPN member Joe Manzella, manager of regional programs at Leap Inc. in Lansing.

Manzella said that members of Accelerate Lansing, a group of young professionals living and working near the state Capitol, have just begun using the site to connect with satellite groups of Michigan-educated professionals around the world.

Anyone can join the Web site. Go to GreatPlaceNetwork.org to create a membership profile and join groups of interest.

The Great Place Network is a joint effort between MSU Extension, the MSU Land Policy Institute and the Michigan Department of Energy, Labor and Economic Growth. It is supported by information and research from MSUE and LPI.

(c) 2010, WWJ Newsradio 950. All rights reserved.

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