Friday, March 25, 2011

Relating To The Big Picture

The census shows Detroit is going away.

With no other option to maintain infrastructure, counties depave roads as revenue declines.

And business owners report they can't get employees to move to the state.

Via Rustwire: Michigan CEO: Soul-Crushing Sprawl Killing Business (I was suspicious of this but looked into it and found that this letter was originally sent to the Michigan Municipal League in August, 2010)

We’d like to stay in Michigan, but we have a problem. It’s not taxes or
regulations. There’s lots of talk about these issues but they have no
impact on our business. We spend more on copiers and toner than we do
on state taxes.

Our problem is access to talent. We have high-paying positions open for
patent attorneys in the software and semiconductor space. Even though
it is one of the best hiring environments for IP firms in 40 years, we
cannot fill these positions. Most qualified candidates live out of state
and simply will not move here, even though they are willing to relocate
to other cities...

...We are becoming a place where people without resources are grudgingly
forced to live.

...There’s a simple reason why many people don’t want to live here: it’s an
unpleasant place because most of it is visually unattractive and because
it is lacking in quality living options other than tract suburbia. Some
might call this poor “quality of life.”

...some boosters trumpet our “unrivaled” freeway system as if
freeways and sprawl they engender are “quality of life” assets. In San
Francisco, the place sucking up all the talent and money, they have
removed — literally torn out of the ground — two freeways because
people prefer not to have them.

The reasons listed in this letter are the same reasons Michigan is at the bottom of the Gallup wellbeing index

The big picture is building roads won't attract professionals who can live anywhere; building capacity for people will. Some people say how Detroit goes goes the rest of the state. Some people think Traverse City is somewhat immune from downstate problems because of the pleasantness of the environment here. Regardless, the choices made for infrastructure send a signal to those who may move here. What do we tell them?