Overall economic health of urban centers and the surrounding areas is largely dependent upon sound, innovative urban policy. The social vitality of Michigan’s urban communities is directly linked to the prosperity of its larger cities and urban cores. Vibrant cities that address the issues of poverty alleviation, education, business, transportation and infrastructure will generate economic growth and cultural enrichment. Cities can accomplish this by uniting with local businesses, universities, and other cultural, faith-based, and nonprofit institutions.
Affordable housing, renewable and sustainable energy, well-maintained and accessible public transit, fair labor practices, a quality and cutting-edge education system, and a revitalized criminal justice system are all linked to the overall health and vitality of our urban areas, and by extension, the overall success of Michigan. It is time to stop separating and over-bureaucratizing each area as if they function independently of one another.
As Mayor of Lansing, Virg Bernero has a keen understanding of the importance of investing in our cities. For too long Michigan has operated under the “hole in the donut” theory of economic development — where investment in the outlying areas takes precedence over our urban centers. Virg believes we need a whole scale philosophical change that includes making urban investment central to economic revitalization.
Quality public transportation, in fact, can spur urban investment. Unlike previous generations, young people today want to live in cities where owning a car is an option, not a necessity. Whether it's high-speed rail, light rail, or bus, Virg believes it is imperative to focus regionally on transit to allow people to commute effectively in and around large urban centers, as well as from one corner of the state to the other.
Virg Bernero knows the future of any urban policy agenda must include regional cooperation: larger cities like Detroit and Flint are prime examples of cities that would benefit from regional cooperation and consolidation of services. This cooperation has the potential to unify our urban core, leading to a stronger and more competitive Michigan. In Mid-Michigan, one sucessful example of regional cooperation is the Capital Area Transportation Authority (CATA). In 2007, CATA was awarded the Outstanding Public Transportation System Achievement Award by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA).
Virg Bernero has the right experience to be Governor. Virg is the only candidate for governor who has successfully created jobs as an elected official. Unlike his opponent, Virg has had to make tough decisions that impact Michigan's citizens. As Mayor of Lansing, Virg brought labor and business leaders together to balance five straight budgets. He downsized government by 20% and he didn't raise taxes or lay off even a single worker. Rick Snyder talks about bipartisanship, talks about downsizing government, and talks about creating jobs. But while Rick Snyder has been talking, Virg Bernero has delivered.