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Thriving Communities

Getting Back on Track: Uncovering the Potential for Trains in Traverse City
There are many reasons why the Grand Traverse region is such a great place—not the least of which is its strong sense of community and “can do” spirit. The area has a proud history of identifying priorities and acting on them. One emerging priority is passenger rail.

Going to Town
Today traditional-style neighborhood or town center developments are being planned, are already rising, or are now full of satisfied residents not only in larger towns such as Traverse City, Manistee, and Petoskey, but also in villages like Empire and Harbor Springs, and even rural townships like Acme.

Famlies on the Edge
February 2011
"Families on the Edge: Designing Communities that Work" explores policy and planning changes local leaders can make to help struggling families get off the poverty treadmill. The report examines four basic questions: How can we make housing more affordable—and closer to work, school, and services—for the working poor? How can working families cut transportation costs? How can families obtain healthier, affordable food? How can they cut ruinously expensive heating bills? 

Hard Lessons: Causes and Consequences of Michigan's School Construction Boom
February 2004
Hard Lessons asks whether building bigger, newer schools is always best for students and communities. We conclude that new school construction is raising tax, economic, and community stability issues with long-term consequences.

Expanding Transportation Choices in the Grand Traverse Region
October 2009
Effective public transportation connecting towns and cities is a vital part of a growth strategy for future prosperity in the Grand Traverse Region. This report examines how commuters use existing fixed routes in the region and offers insight into how to effectively increase and improve public transit services. 

Follow the Money
January 2005
"Follow The Money" documents a pervasive pattern of public investments for roads, jobs, government offices, and business development that encourages runaway sprawl. In almost every category of state economic development spending, cities and older suburbs lose and new suburbs win.




Clean Energy:

Energy Efficiency and Economic Opportunity in Grand Traverse County
Jim Dulzo and Barton Kirk (SEEDS), June 2012
Cutting energy use in every building in Grand Traverse County would create dozens of jobs over many years, easily pay for itself, and redirect millions of saved “energy dollars” back into the community. 

20-20 by 2020: A Clear Vision for Clean Energy Prosperity
Traverse City Light & Power's push for renewable energy should include much stronger commitments to energy efficiency and local, entrepreneurial wind and solar power projects-keys to lowering electric bills and creating new jobs in the region.

Fever of Development, Frontier of Recovery
The sale of an expanse of globally rare, undeveloped Lake Michigan beach and dunes at the mouth of the Kalamazoo River signals an unmistakable and possibly momentous shift in the Saugatuck and Douglas real estate markets. An analysis of demographic and market trends affecting southern Lake Michigan shoreline communities and recommendations to protect the environment and a small town way of life.

New Plans for Barren Lands
A brownfield redevelopment guide for Michigan's northern coastal communities that summarizes the statewide achievements in downtown investment resulting from modernized state toxic cleanup laws. The report explains that investing millions of taxpayer dollars to transform ugly parcels into centers of commerce is smart because it generates more jobs and economic growth. That spending, the report says, should grow significantly.

Water Works
Water Works describes a new way of thinking about water resource development that is gradually and organically emerging in the Great Lakes Basin. It reduces costs, safeguards waterways, and strengthens the region's economic competitiveness. The challenge and responsibility for the region's civic and business leaders is to understand this movement and establish an atmosphere in which it can flourish.

Code Red in a Blue Water Basin
The mere mention of diverting fresh water from the Great Lakes to far-off lands usually triggers passionate calls for immediate protective action. But concerns about far more mundane issues - those local water uses that actually drain aquifers and stress lakes and rivers - receive far less attention. Code Red in a Blue Water Basin highlights four Great Lakes communities where unrestrained local consumption and a lack of scientific information already frustrate attempts to keep local water supplies clean and plentiful. Code Red urges lawmakers to promptly enact modern water-protection legislation that ensures safe, fresh water for industrial, agricultural, and residential use.

Deciding the Fate of the Great Lakes
Great Lakes governments now are negotiating a common strategy to implement the Great Lakes Charter Annex, and protect all water users — from farms and cities to fish and forests. 

State's Proposed Crystal Lake Boat Launch: Three Ways to Make it Right
The state DNR has proposed a new boat launch for Crystal Lake; the Institute has three recommendations that would make it right.

Natural River Fact Sheets (4 in set)
Learn how communities and public policy makers can use the Michigan Natural River Program to protect some of the state's most treasured natural features and most value.





Food and Farming

Northwest Michigan's Farm Factor
Doug Krieger, February 2009

Eat Fresh and Grow Jobs, Michigan
September 2006





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