Community conversation recommends priorities for candidates

February 5, 2014

By Rob Alway. Editor-in-Chief. 

PERE MARQUETTE TWP. — What message would you like to send to candidates running in the upcoming state elections? A small people gathered this morning for a community conversation, hosted by the Ludington & Scottville Area Chamber of Commerce and facilitated by the Center for Michigan, a private non-profit think tank based in Ann Arbor.

The conversation is the first of two public meetings being held in Mason County. Attendees were asked to rank a series of topics that are seen as relevant for political candidates. They then discussed the results. The community conversations will continue across the state until April.

The 13 people in attendance represented business, tourism, education, government and the media; the meeting was an open invitation. A sample of 30 is typically the industry standard for an accurate survey.

The first question asked attendees how they felt about Michigan’s current economy; 73% stated they believed the economy was good and slowly improving. When asked to compare the economy to four years ago, 36% said is was much better while another 36% said it was slightly better.

One attendee observed that while Grand Rapids has seen major improvements, Mason County’s economy seems to be lagging and not growing as rapidly. Another attendee said she thought the local economy was improving, especially in the area of tourism. She said her business, which is tourism related, has seen a major improvement compared to four years ago and has seen more geographically diverse customer base.

Attendees were then asked questions about where the state should be spending, or not spending, its money. Sixty-four percent said economic development is an urgent priority and 100% said intensifying education and job training was top priority. Streamlining business regulation was seen as urgent by 82%.

Investing in roads, bridges and infrastructure was considered important by 77%. Only 50% believed that place making was a priority. Place making is the process through which a community is shaped into a particular theme or niche.

Only 23% believed increasing the minimum wage was urgent, followed by 31% believing it was a medium priority. Direct economic development from the state was considered important by 38% while 31% believed reducing taxes and shrinking government should be addressed.

A large majority believed the state’s priority for education should be to invest more in k-12 and to reduce college tuition.

Other stats included:

– Improving public safety: 31% considered urgent, 62% medium urgency.

– Decreasing poverty, 54% urgent; 38% medium urgency.

– Improving public health, 23% urgent; 62% medium urgent.

– Protecting Michigan’s environment, 69% urgent.

– Supporting arts and culture, 31% urgent; 62% medium urgent.

– Investing in public transit, 23% urgent; 46% medium urgency.

– Revitalizing Michigan’s cities: 50% urgent; 42% medium urgency.

 

Another community conversation, hosted by AFFEW, will be held on February 20 from 7 to 9 p.m.  at Ludington City Hall.

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