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Urban chief outlines New normal for cities

2/29/2012, 8:09 p.m.

Q: The governor has talked about shared sacrifice, but some will say what about shared commitment — How can or should the state reinvest in its communities?

A: This year the governor’s focus is to build the fiscal year 2013 budget by investing in four priority areas: education, human services, public safety and roads. And that’s how we begin to reinvest in our state. This is what government does extremely well.

Q: Are you promoting regionalism, and if so, how?

A: Absolutely. The satellite offices, for example, are not necessarily offices that will focus on the city that they are located in, but they will be a regional focus. So, for example, the Flint office will also work with the cities of Saginaw, Bay City and Midland. Grand Rapids will have a secondary focus on Muskegon and also Holland. And Kalamazoo will have a secondary focus on Battle Creek and Benton Harbor.

Q: So what does that mean?

A: The meaning of it is that the effort of the state in doing what we need to do in the city of Flint, for example, should have spillover to other big cities in that area. We would like to see if best practices in any of these cities, can work in the other. We’re trying to cast a broader net.

Editor’s Note: Amy Lane is a contributor to the Michigan Chronicle’s editorial alliance partner, Bridge magazine, and a former reporter for Crain’s Detroit Business, where she covered utilities, state government and state business for many years.