Regionalism is all the buzz in economic development circles, and now the greater Lansing region has the potential to be a model of the concept. The Tri-County Regional Planning Commission, along with partners
, Michigan Energy Options, Michigan State University's Land Policy Institute and the Greater Lansing Housing Coalition
, have received a $3 million a Sustainable Community Regional Planning Grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
"This changes everything," says Mid-MEAC director Julie Powers. "By bringing all of the planning people from different communities together around projects rather than a policy issue, they can work collaboratively."
The grant will be distributed over three years. It will fund nine regionalism projects, including a housing study, a transportation plan, an online citizen portal for zoning issues and a Michigan Avenue-wide energy audit. One project of particular interest to Mid-MEAC is one their organization will administer: a regional planning community outreach program.
"This brings people to the table who doesn't usually have voice," says Powers. "We need to have the perspective of those who use public transportation to plan for its future."
The regional group's application was one of very few chosen from more than 2000 applicants. The partners are now in negotiations with HUD to get the project ready to begin. Powers expect a start date sometime in the first quarter of 2012.
"It has really brought people together," she says of the collaborative application process. "To me, this is what the Love Lansing movement is all about."
Photo - John Lindenmayer