A community is the common ground where people gather—from housing, squares, streets and plazas to parks, green spaces and waterfronts. At MEDC, we believe that by revitalizing communities and rebuilding neighborhoods, we can strengthen the entire state of Michigan.
Together with our many partners, we invest in Michigan communities to enhance the quality of life for our residents—and to attract and retain businesses, entrepreneurs and workers throughout the state.
To revitalize Michigan, we are examining our state through a new lens, taking into account the types of places where workers, entrepreneurs and businesses want to locate, invest and expand.
What is placemaking?
Known as “place-based economic development,” placemaking aims to create quality places where people want to live, work, play and learn. It is driven by the economic imperative that businesses must attract and retain talent in order to succeed.
Why is placemaking important?
Community quality and economic prosperity are top priorities for everyone—including businesses and residents. In the past, community quality was considered a secondary benefit to successfully connecting business to labor, and labor to employment.
As our local, regional, and even national demographics have shifted, this traditional two-way “business-talent” connection has also shifted to a three-way “business-talent-place” connection. Adding a place-focused dimension makes Michigan more competitive for the global talent base.
This approach focuses on creating a “sense of place”—or just “placemaking.” It’s based on a single principle: people choose to settle in places that offer the amenities, social and professional networks, and resources and opportunities to support a thriving lifestyle. Michigan can attract and retain talent—especially young, knowledge-based talent—by focusing on how best to take advantage of the unique placemaking assets of our regional communities.
Business needs talent, talent wants place, place needs business. This reality—supported by a wide range of convincing evidence—can strengthen Michigan’s economic development strategy by incorporating the importance of quality places.
Understanding these relationships strengthens Michigan’s economic recovery in three ways:
Business needs talent. Businesses must be dynamic to succeed in the global economy. That means they must be constantly innovating, adjusting to new technology, generating new ideas and delivering new products. The key to their success is attracting and retaining talented workers with these skills.
Businesses know they need to attract and retain top-notch talent, and they rightly focus on issues such as education, skills training and job access. Now and into the future, however, their decisions must also include place-based issues that this growing pool of talented people care about.
Talent wants place. Well-educated, talented workers are in high demand and very mobile. They choose where they want to live based on opportunities to live/work/play/learn in a region. They’re looking for a variety of housing, transportation, entertainment, recreation, education and cultural options. National research shows 40% or more of talent relocations act in this way: they choose a place first—then seek employment. This trend is also anecdotal in the growing number of news headlines announcing large–and small–corporate locations or relocations.
Place needs business. Quality places that offer a variety of living choices, are walkable and full of amenities attract and retain businesses. Most people enjoy places with natural, community, social, leisure, creative and cultural activities for themselves and their families. Combining this with effective professional networks and access to resources and opportunities is even more attractive to entrepreneurs looking to exploit intellectual capital.
Businesses are following educated knowledge workers who have moved to these quality places—ranging in size from downtown Grand Rapids or downtown/midtown Detroit to Marquette and Clare.
Another important aspect to Placemaking is MIssing Middle Housing, which refers to a range of smaller, multi-unit or clustered housing similar in size to single-family homes. The current demand for MIssing Middle Housing exceeds supply as it meets the growing desire for walkable urban living. Learn more about it here.