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Regional partnership hailed as ‘First-of-its-kind” in Tri-County region

Wednesday, June 08, 2016  
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Ingham, Eaton and Clinton County Boards of Commissioners join Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce in major regional initiative

A major regional partnership announced today marks the first time that the three county governments and the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce (LRCC) in partnership with Michigan State University’s Center for Local Government Finance and Policy have formally agreed to work together to address priority issues in the region. LRCC and the Boards of Commissioners in Ingham, Eaton and Clinton Counties have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) designed to foster collaboration between the tri-counties to support regional economic growth and policy initiatives.

“This partnership is unprecedented in many ways and is already resulting in greater dialogue on how the region can work together on issues that benefit the entire region,” said Tim Daman, LRCC president and chief executive officer. “We fully intend to get beyond the dialogue and focus our collective attention on specific issues that need to be a priority in promoting a higher quality of life in the region.”

“We all recognize that we must reach across geographical and political boundary lines to work together on our common challenges,” said Robert Showers, chair of the Clinton County Board of Commissioners. “It is important for the counties to provide more leadership on these regional issues. This agreement gives us the opportunity to do so.”

Officials envision a regional collaboration in which participants develop collective strategies for addressing regional priorities. Among issues likely to be identified are concerns over infrastructure needs, developing the Michigan Avenue Corridor, and working with state officials to modify the state revenue sharing formula for local governments.

“Though each of us represents local units of governments with individual interests, we recognize that regionally, we are all in this together,” said Kara Hope, chair of the Ingham County Board of Commissioners. “This partnership will foster collaborations in a non-competitive, mutually beneficial environment.”

The regional partnership will also provide tri-county units of government the opportunity to better understand best practices being used to effectively address financial challenges that are a reality for most municipalities. To that end, the Ingham, Eaton and Clinton County Boards of Commissioners have all accepted a position on the City of Lansing’s Financial Health Team (FHT), which has been working at recommending strategies to strengthen Lansing’s financial position.

“The decision to join the FHT underscores the recognition in all three counties that all of us in the region must have a strong central city for the region to thrive,” said FHT co-chair David Hollister. “We all need Lansing to be vibrant in order to have the quality of life we all desire whether we live in the urban area, St. Johns, Mason or Charlotte.”

“It’s no secret that most municipalities face serious challenges with unfunded liabilities and the inability to finance much-needed essential services including rebuilding the infrastructure,” said MSU Economist and FHT co-chair, Eric Scorsone. “Having the counties represented on the FHT will allow a sharing of best practices that should serve as a model that can be used regionally to attack those financial concerns.”

Though the MOU is not legally binding, it does provide a framework for the tri-counties to work together to accomplish several objectives:

  • To freely discuss and exchange ideas and concepts regarding policy issues related to infrastructure, marketing, talent, business attraction and retention, job creation, regional competitiveness and innovation; and
  • To act positively to enhance the image of the region.

“This partnership gives us the opportunity to get beyond the turf struggles and political divisions that only serve to keep us from achieving greatness,” said Blake Mulder, chair of the Eaton County Board of Commissioners. “It is my hope that one day we will all look back on this agreement as the time when the tri-county region turned the corner and began to build a better region with a quality of life second to none.”

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