The new economy is here and local governments are preparing for it

The shift to the new, or global, economy has taken place. MSU Extension has a checklist of ideas for local governments to better prepare for success in the future economy.

Many people have heard of the new economy, or global economy, but what are local governments doing to prepare their community for it and to focus economic development efforts for it?

The global economy is already here and has already transformed the way many businesses think, act and remain competitive. Now is the time for communities in Michigan to assess their planning, zoning and local practices to be competitive in this new world.

Michigan State University (MSU) did a multiple-year focus to educate community leaders throughout the state on new economy principles. This was the focus of the MSU Land Policy Institute’s Michigan Prosperity Initiative. The five-year applied-research project climaxed with an education emphasis with 100 programs within 100 days in spring 2010. Many of those training programs and materials can be downloaded at the Michigan Prosperity Initiative website.

This training has been followed by a New Economy 401 training program “Planning for the Global Economy: What is the Role for your Local Government in the Global Economy.” This program, now in its final year, is still available for delivery in your part of the state. Contact your local land use educator to set one up.

One of the parts of this training is a regularly expanding list of ideas that can help make your community better prepared and better positioned for economic success in the global economy. For example, the list includes various changes for a community’s master plan, such as adding a section on economic development which is coordinated to regional economic development planning, a master plan section for treatment of placemaking, a section or strategies on population retention, and talent attraction to your community.

Zoning ordinance ideas include reducing or eliminating regulatory controls on home businesses. Many entrepreneurs are able to get their start in the home. Accommodating new business start-ups in this way can be a huge bonus for a community’s economic development. Allowing maximum amount of change to accommodate innovation in industry and agriculture is also important. As long as the land use does not change then minimize permits or other delays for installing new equipment, changing the type of farm operation, or the project manufactured is another way to help business stay in business.

Many communities are placing self-imposed deadlines for making zoning decisions. For example, a maximum of 65 days to issue or deny a special use permit, an average of seven days to issue normal zoning permits.

Streamlining local procedures can be done by having all permit applications and ordinance requirements, up on the government webpage – and even allowing all permitting business to be conducted via the Internet.

The checklist, found on Schindler’s Land Use Page has many more ideas to consider. The local planning commission uses the checklist to pick and choose which ideas they can and want to do. Some communities also create additional ideas of their own. The last page of the list has a form to be used for submitting new ideas back to MSU Extension. We will then add them to the future editions of the checklist for others to view and consider.

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