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Sunday, 28 October 2012 16:41

ULI Forum: State needs to invest in urban cores, education

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KALAMAZOO — The Urban Land Institute of Michigan’s first-ever Kalamazoo event sparked some interesting conversation about Michigan’s future and the prospects ahead of the state.

The program, “Industry Insights: The Catalysts of Urban Growth & Economic Development,” brought MPI Research CEO William Parfet and Taubman Centers Inc. CEO Robert Taubman together to share their thoughts on the opportunities for Michigan’s next economy.

Parfet said the state needs to go back to basics by investing and improving education, tackling the skills gap, investing in urban cores and streamlining government units.

Taubman – whose company develops shopping malls – said more enlightened and engaged philanthropy from the private sector is needed to spur change in communities with potential such as Kalamazoo.

In response to moderator and CEO of Southwest Michigan First Ron Kitchens’ question on why urban development matters Taubman said it’s “just good business.”

Investing in urban cores creates a “full mosaic” of what young, talented and innovative people are looking for, which in turns creates growth, Taubman said.

Addressing how the state got to the position it’s in, Parfet said “we” created the problem by fleeing to the suburbs and simultaneously losing the synergy that happens in urban cores.

Both men reflected on the state’s past when the auto industry raised Michigan’s status to a top 10 state. However, they agreed that simply relying on that good heritage isn’t enough in an era of business that is pushing advanced technologies and innovation.

“What we’ve got to do is build on our strengths, be honest about those things that are good that we can build on, and look closely at those things that clearly need to be changed – not just through public policy, but through those habits we’ve become used to and complacent about,” Parfet said.

Read 5268 times Last modified on Monday, 29 October 2012 20:47

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