Over the course of one week I had the opportunity to visit two of Michigan’s urban centers, Battle Creek and Pontiac. Once again, I found in both communities passionate people working to use their assets and create prosperity anew in their downtowns and neighborhoods.
Both downtowns have great bones for future development. In Battle Creek I visited with the mayor and economic development officials and was also able to sit in on the first meeting of a new community engagement project being funded by Kellogg Foundation and led by the local United Way. City and community leaders are ready to continue the work that has been started, including an $85 million project to revitalize downtown, a new math and science center that will draw youth, affirming that BC will be the center for Kellogg Company global research operations and development of a national center for food protection. An intense effort is underway to attract residential development to the downtown and there is more than one property waiting.
Pontiac was no less enthusiastic about their future. New loft developments in the downtown are ready and the private and public sector are working together to make the city the vibrant urban core of Oakland County. The regional chamber of commerce is providing the catalyzing platform for bringing folks together. And with a large hospital as an anchor in the downtown the eds and meds strategy is one that might just serve Pontiac well moving into the future.
My visits to these two cities again affirmed for me that there are good things going on in communities across our state. And it really doesn’t make a difference where I go, the key to bringing new dreams to fruition lies in the ability of both public, private and non-profit entities to work together and engage the greater community in their efforts.