Regionalism- It’s Good Business!
The Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce (LRCC) has long advocated and led regional efforts to attract and retain business, offering site selection services and a one-stop shopping experience for business and industry considering location and/or expansion opportunities. The regional approach to economic development makes sense for several reasons:
- Businesses investigating our region prefer dealing with one organization that crosses jurisdictional lines—it’s a more efficient use of time.
- Regional groups are generally given priority by state economic development organizations and site selectors.
- Regional groups have more political clout because of their ability to pull individual communities together for a regional cause.
Regional leaders have successfully used 425 Agreements to win economic development victories in recent years. PA 425 allows one municipality the option of conditionally transferring land to another. The land transfer is sometimes needed for properties that lack infrastructure necessary to support economic development projects. That strategy was effectively utilized in GM’s new Lansing Delta Township facility, and in efforts that resulted in Jackson National Life Insurance Company’s decision to build its new headquarters in Alaeidon Township.
“The effort around retaining GM served as a rallying point that unified our community as never before,” said Delta Township Supervisor Joe Drolett. “Not only were we able to save thousands of jobs at GM, but our region has realized significant investment and job growth from GM suppliers who located and expanded here.”
“It’s amazing what can happen when a community has a regional vision and is willing to do what it takes to achieve that vision,” said Jackson National Life CFO Andy Hopping.
“We take pride in calling the Lansing region our home, and enjoy the positive relationships we’ve forged with community leaders.”
There are several other collaborative initiatives in the past few months that should mean a huge step forward for the region. They are:
Pollina Study – Thirteen regional partners including LRCC funded a study that serves as a blueprint for regional economic growth. The Pollina Study says our region is well positioned to recruit new business from the following sectors:
- Advanced manufacturing
- Distribution, warehousing and logistics
- Insurance/financial services
- Bio-based research and development
- Information technologies
- Emerging technologies
Michigan Avenue Corridor Improvement Initiative – This new regional effort brings the cities of Lansing and East Lansing and Lansing Township together to redevelop one of the major commercial corridors in our region. Community leaders plan to create a Corridor Improvement Authority that will assist in renovation and beautification of Michigan Avenue.
Lansing Economic Area Partnership (LEAP) – This private sector led organization has become the lead agency for economic development in the region. This private/public partnership will give our region increased credibility and fundraising ability, which will enable us to compete globally for new jobs and investment. The Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce looks forward to partnering with LEAP on key regional economic development initiatives.
The encouraging trend that has been developing in our region in recent years is that issues over political turf and boundary lines are being shoved aside in favor of the larger community good. Concerns over which particular jurisdiction “wins” a new business and who “loses,” are increasingly being replaced by an attitude that says “let’s win for the region.” Keeping the regional vision as our top priority will ensure more significant economic development victories in our future.
| ||William A. Sepic, President & CEO Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce|