After graduating from college, Jon Porta returned to Livingston County because he could work for his father, who owned an independent insurance agency."I don't know if I would have come back to Livingston (County)," Porta said.
If he hadn't had a job lined up, Porta wonders if his future would have taken a vastly different path.
That's the answer right there. It's not new urbanism. It's not trying to be something we aren't and never will be. It's jobs. We're Michigan. We're Livingston County. We aren't Chicago. We aren't Royal Oak. We aren't Ann Arbor. We won't copy them, and should not even try to do so. We don't need to be any of those. Livingston County's strength is rural character, small towns, lakes, and being driving distance from cities, but further away from its influence.
He said the state's old economy based on automotive manufacturing that fueled Michigan's amazing growth is gone and isn't coming back.
Gilmartin said the new group of college graduates aren't sticking around in Michigan because they're looking for a lively, multicultural urban scene. He said 46 percent leave the state after graduating.
"They don't see the urban opportunities here in Michigan, and they're gone," he said.
That's wishful thinking from Dan Gilmartin, president of Michigan Municipal League. His job is to advocate for the big cities. First off, yes the new economy is important, but damn it. Quit giving up on manufacturing. Diversifying the economy doesn't mean throwing manufacturing under the bus. Secondly, I know a lot of people that left the state. The reason isn't for multicultural urban scenes. The reason is jobs.
He said county officials need to "think differently" to create a region that attracts young people. While many generations might be accustomed to making a long commute to work, he said the young generation isn't as connected to owning a car. He said many college graduates think a $400 monthly car payment plus gas and insurance "is a complete waste of money."
Pure Richard Florida Crap. The real answers of importance. Jobs. Schools. Crime. It's not building lofts in some new urbanism paradise. I'll let the census give you the population answers:
2000 - 60,062
2008 - 55,618
2000 - 114,024
2008 - 115,299
2000 - 951,270
2008 - 808,398
2000 - 156,951
2008 - 182,432
Royal Oak, the poster child of Richard Florida new urbanism in Michigan, lost population. Ann Arbor gained, but that was pre-Pfizer, and they have an ace in their hole. UM. Gilmartian always talks about the young professionals, but what happens when they start families and their kids become school aged? Oftentimes, the people that move to Livingston County from elsewhere are people who settle in the county. The commute for some suck, but the schools are relatively good, the taxes are lower than Oakland or Washtenaw County, the crime is lower, and the small town and rural character is its strengths.
Gilmartin embraced the idea of a commuter train from Howell to Ann Arbor.
"I think it will light your economy on fire," Gilmartin said.
The train to nowhere! I went into great detail in that waste of money 2 1/2 years ago, and nothing has changed.
Still, Pape said the state and southeastern Michigan has the assets to turn things around.
"Southeastern Michigan and Livingston (County) has an awful lot of smart people," he said.
He said the county needs to figure out "what we do better than anybody else and market the heck out of it."
Now that's more like it. People like Livingston County's small town and rural character. It isn't like it used to be when I was growing up here, but much of the character still remains. Lakes, woods, rivers, nature. It's still there.
In order to move on past this economy, Livingston County needs to do what Livingston County does best, and not try to be what it isn't.