To promote healthy and sustainable communities within our core cities through applied, practical and neighborhood-based solutions.
Urban Collaborators aims to address specific topics that affect the vibrancy of our core city neighborhoods with reference to smart growth, livability and community-based social and economic policies that build from within and cater, primarily, to current residents. Within this framework, the Urban Collaborators team will address issues of work and entrepreneurship, use of urban buildings and space, organizational capacity building, reinforcing ethnic neighborhoods, creating safe environments and promoting basic community needs, such as housing, food, education, safety, the sustainable built environment and protection of natural resources.
The focus of Urban Collaborators in on a set of eight “Legacy Cities” in Michigan. These are cities that were once great crucibles of industry and prosperity across the state, but that are now mere shadows of their former selves, and as such are left with nothing but a legacy. The cities are Detroit, Grand Rapids, Warren, Lansing, Flint, Kalamazoo, Pontiac and Saginaw.
All of these cities once had population of 50,000 or more at their peak population level in the middle of the last century and have experienced about a 20% or more loss in population since their peak. They have below state average median household incomes and poverty rates of 28%, or more.
Although some of these cities are starting to see economic rebound, all of them had large industrial or manufacturing economies at the middle of the last century. However, since then they have experienced dramatic declines in that economic sector which has resulted in large-scale job losses, housing degradation and vacancies, and social isolationism of residents that continues in many neighborhoods and sections of these cities.
More information about MSU Extension’s urban agenda and priorities can be found in the MSU Extension Urban Framework or Summary.