Michigan Land Use Institute

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Institute, State Chamber Study School Location Decisions, Development Patterns

Joint research project links education, land use, economy

October 25, 2002 | By Hans Voss
Great Lakes Bulletin News Service

  Charlevoix High School under construction in an undeveloped part of the county.

LANSING, MI — The Michigan Land Use Institute and the Michigan Chamber of Commerce have launched a new project to study the affects that school location decisions have on community development patterns. The initiative is made possible by a grant from People and Land, a project funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and managed by Public Sector Consultants, a policy research firm in Lansing.

The study focuses on education, land use, and the economy — three bedrock Michigan priorities that resonate with a broad cross-section of citizens — and forges a powerful alliance of two prominent Michigan organizations. In addition to its role as one of the state’s leading business advocacy groups, the Michigan Chamber is emerging as a leading voice on the vital connection between economic development and responsible growth. Couple this with the Institute’s proven track record of research, communications, and advocacy to support Smart Growth and the prospect for results is considerable.

“This study is exciting because it is a convergence of key issues at the right time,” said Jim Barrett, the president and chief executive office of the Michigan Chamber. “By combining our respective resources, the Chamber and the Institute will explore how decisions made by school districts are influencing development patterns within the state.”
The Chamber and the Institute will expand the knowledge base in Michigan about the relationship between schools and land use, and develop recommendations related to public policy options. Specifically the project will:

  • Investigate the factors that drive school facility decisions, evaluate the role of public policy, document statewide trends, and analyze short-term and long-term economic consequences of school building location decisions.
  • Convene regional stakeholder meetings to gain diverse input and identify opportunities for collaboration.
  • Work with Michigan communities to evaluate school location decisions in the context of local land use.
  • Develop policy recommendations to help communities achieve their education goals in the most cost efficient manner for the community.
  • Communicate these findings to opinion leaders, political leaders, the media, and citizens.

This new project is the first of its kind in Michigan and is targeted to be completed by September of 2003.
The Michigan Land Use Institute is a non-profit Smart Growth research and advocacy organization based in Beulah. Founded in 1995, the Institute has a 13-member staff, 2,000 member families and businesses, and regional offices in Grand Rapids and Traverse City.

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