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Connecting the community

Greater Lansing leaders work together to bring out the best

When people think Lansing, they envision the state capitol and the bustle sur-rounding it. When they actually get to Lansing, they discover the diversity of thriving cities and townships and the urban and rural character they bring.

Recognizing this, the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce (LRCC) is uniting leaders from Clinton, Eaton and Ingham counties to promote the region. Creating consensus is expected to enhance the local, state and federal lobbying power of Mid-Michigan.

To the LRCC members, effective advocacy means more opportunity to create the world-class region they envision.

“We’re either going to be parochial or global,” said Virg Bernero, Mayor of the City of Lansing. “It’s easy to talk the talk, but it’s harder to walk the walk. We can no longer fight each other for crumbs while the global economy takes off. If we shake the global tree, the fruits will fall on all of us—regardless of municipal boundaries. But, you have to have a plan.”

“Over the last several years, Lansing and East Lansing have built a very strong relationship,” said East Lansing Mayor Nathan Triplett. “Continued collaboration will only make the region stronger in the long run. By dealing with our challenges proactively, we can come to a regional solution that works for everyone. None of our communities are islands unto themselves. When we look for appropriate solutions instead of boundary lines, we will all be stronger for it.”

A vision for the region. The LRCC continues to be at the forefront of leadership. Through informal meetings, face-to-face brainstorming and relationship building, leaders are uniting. They are developing a vision for marketing the region as a whole—a concept reinforced by Governor Rick Snyder at the Chamber’s Catalyst Visioning Summit in October, 2014.

“The forum provides a format for municipal leaders, mayors, board of commission chairs and the business community to get together and talk about ways to enhance regional efforts,” said Victor Celentino, Chair of the Ingham County Board of Commissioners.

“This type of change will have to be led by the business community,” Bernero said. “We need to move harder, faster and smarter. In the business community, things are ramping up.”

Regional collaboration. “For our region to continue to have the economic success we’re experiencing now, we have to continue to work as one—and by that, I mean whether it’s regional public transportation or recruiting new business and talent into our region,” said Tim Daman, President & CEO of the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce. “The more we do to develop this regional concept, the greater chance we have for future economic growth. Additionally, the more our municipalities work together, the greater chance we have that they will look for improved efficiencies by sharing resources, which is important for a solid economic climate for our businesses and Chamber members.”

Examples of collaborative successes are many. They include:

  • Emergency Services: Six area municipalities—Cities of Lansing and East Lansing and the townships of Delta, Delhi, Lansing and Meridian are working together to provide more efficient fire and emergency services to Metro Lansing residents. Collaborative efforts include joint purchasing, training and working towards automated mutual aid agreements.
  • 911 Service Center: Lansing, East Lansing and Ingham County consolidated to a countywide 911 Service Center providing more efficient and enhanced services to county residents.
  • Public Transportation: Capital Area Transportation Authority, partnering with Delta Township, to offer cross-boundary public transportation services connecting employers, employees and township residents to downtown Lansing.
  • Parks & Recreation: DeWitt and DeWitt Township consolidating their parks and recreation departments leading to the development of the West Michigan Miracle League uniting children from different backgrounds and physical disabilities to participate in youth sports.
  • Potter Park Zoo: City of Lansing and Ingham County reached an agreement for the county to begin managing Potter Park Zoo as a part of the countywide parks systems.
  • Capital Region International Airport: A 425 land share agreement between City of Lansing and DeWitt Township to allow for greater collaboration in economic development, investment and growth at Capital Region International Airport.

“There are flashes of where collaboration has made a difference,” said Bernero, noting that without the 425 Agreement, the economic development zone could not have been created around the airport. Within that zone, Niowave, Inc. is constructing a $200 million medical isotope production facility.

A tri-county area. “Regional conversations are long overdue,” said Blake Mulder, Chairman of the Eaton County Commission. We all live in one area and work in another. It would be foolish for us to ignore Lansing or Ingham County. It’s so easy to be provincial, but it’s not the best approach. We are a region. We are defined as the tri-county area.”

“The people in the outer communities have as much at stake in Lansing thriving as the people who live in Lansing,” said Brian McGrain, Ingham County Commissioner. “We all win when a company chooses to locate in the Lansing region.”

With trust and regional leadership the Greater Lansing area will be better positioned to compete with metro Detroit and West Michigan for state funding. The dollars will help various initiatives, such as improved transportation and development of the Michigan Avenue Corridor, according to Bob Showers, Clinton County Commissioner.

“We’re finding ways to enhance economic opportunity in the three-county area,” he said.

Those opportunities could be local or global, but either way, the LRCC is creating a common message that spans three counties and creates a regional identity for the world to see.

“We can move in this new direction and think about the future of our communities or we can continue on with business as usual,” said McGrain. “It’s an exciting time in our region. We’re on the cusp.”  

CATALYST - Capital Region Prosperity Project

On Tuesday, Oct. 21, 2014 entrepreneurs, business owners, young professionals and community activists are invited to join others from Ingham, Eaton and Clinton counties to be a catalyst for positive, rapid, sustained progress toward prosperity for our region. Your contributions and insight will become part of a five-year Economic Prosperity Plan.

Attendees focused their discussions on: PLACE: Placemaking & Transportation; GROWTH: Jobs & Entrepreneurship; TALENT: Education & Retention; CORE: Downtown & Density; and GLOBAL: Visibility & Investment. 


CATALYST was co-hosted by a coalition of partners including the Lansing Regional Chamber, the Tri-County Regional Planning Commission, the Lansing Economic Area Partnership, Capital Area Michigan Works!, Lansing Community College and Michigan State University.

Financial Health Dashboard

Lansing-East Lansing Metro Region Fiscal Scorecard

The Lansing-East Lansing metro region is home to 77 general-purpose local governments including cities, townships, villages and counties. These entities provide a variety of public services such as police and fire protection, courts and prosecutors, recreation and cultural services, public works and many other items that affect us on a daily basis. Collectively, these governments’ core functions represent a $500 million enterprise.

The metro region was compared to four other peer metro regions including Canton, Ohio, Ogden, Utah, Grand Rapids, Mich., and Des Moines, Iowa. The city of Lansing, being the core city, its economic and fiscal health is of critical importance to the whole region. The city government was benchmarked against 22 similar cities from across the country. The results serve as a baseline from which the city can continually assess its own cost and value performance against peer governments.

Lansing-East Lansing Metro Region Fiscal Scorecard

Shared Services Fire Study

The City of East Lansing, City of Lansing and townships of Delhi, Delta, Lansing and Meridian recently commissioned and participated in a Shared Public Services Study. Released on June 6, 2012, the study was conducted by Plante Moran and partially funded by a Michigan Municipal League Foundation (MMLF) grant. Executive sponsors of the study included the MMLF, the six participating municipalities, the Lansing Economic Area Partnership and the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce.

The purpose of the study was to explore the full spectrum of regional collaboration in the provision of Fire-EMS-Rescue services.The study sets forth a number of options for collaboration, beginning with a two-part phased approach to service enhancement. All six area municipalities, including the City of East Lansing, have opted to work with the regional partners to further improve services in the region and work toward the principles included in Phases I and II of the Shared Public Services Initiative Capital Area Fire Study.

Leaders of six area jurisdictions have recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) committing them to begin working immediately toward Automatic Mutual Aid. Implementation of Automatic Mutual Aid is the first step toward strengthened collaboration among the region’s fire departments. It will allow the departments to operate in a more seamless and efficient fashion and to provide enhanced service to the region. The MOU also establishes a three-committee organizational structure that will consist of appointed and elected officials, fire chiefs, union leadership and representatives of the private sector. In addition to implementing Automatic Mutual Aid, the committees will pursue opportunities for expanded collaboration in the coming months. At least one of the committees will be meeting on a monthly basis to steer the process forward.

The forward progress of the Shared Fire Services Initiative will continue in the next few weeks with the expected announcements of the formation of a Joint Arson Task Force and implementation of something called the Mutual Aid Box Alarm System, which will improve response times, allow for more efficient use and deployment of resources, and reduce duplication of services.

Shared Public Services Initiative Capital Area Fire Study

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