Success can be highly fluid. It can be fleeting, and dissipate even more quickly than it evolved. It can also have vastly different meanings to different people. Individuals can be secure and comfortable in their own situations, and define that as success. Others can attain a similar level of comfort and security, but not feel successful because they’re more focused on what’s still left to be done. In either instance, success is usually built on the shoulders of others; a foundation that enables great accomplishments.
The Traverse City Area Chamber’s efforts over its 102-year history have centered on leveraging the Grand Traverse area’s business success and energy to spawn community opportunity and prosperity. From sowing the seeds of our area’s tourism industry in the early days, to enticing businesses and employers to our city, to bolstering our region through an airport, Coast Guard station and a community college, the success of our area’s business sector has always been entwined with the overall prosperity of the region. It has been foundational and built to last.
A central theme of the Chamber’s local legislative priorities for 2017 is to continue building on the region’s economic success to benefit both businesses and the overall community. The challenge, however, is that a growing number of civic and political interests equate regional success with protecting the status quo, and clamping down on growth and development. In their crosshairs are highly successful economic development incentives and curtailing them under a variety of rationale and opinions.
The community will best prosper by expanding opportunity for everyone. That’s why we’ll advocate for robust use of economic development tools that attract and enable private investment. We support clear and straightforward land-use regulations that are consistently applied. We’ll back infrastructure investment, from our roads to our public transportation systems to our regional airport – and especially for our broadband/fiber communications network.
We’ll support our education system, including job and career training needed to bolster our local labor force. Our young people and families also need expanded housing options, and access to quality child care. They are the region’s future, and need to be a much larger part of the community’s focus and dialogue.
Just as importantly, we’ll look at the positions of our decision-makers to determine where they stand on the area’s future. We need local leaders who are excited and inspired by our region’s growth and evolution, and eager to maximize its potential. A community that caters primarily to its affluence is mortgaging its future – and inviting economic and social challenges down the line.
Our region’s “secret sauce” has been its willingness to aim high, think big and be bold in its implementation of those ideals. The “nothing is impossible” mindset has catapulted the area to a national stage not typical for communities our size. It shows up on “must see” and “best places to…” lists across the country. It flexes its muscles in “strong town” competitions and enjoys a high level of visibility in Michigan and across the Midwest and beyond.
But that success can’t be a plateau – an off-ramp to take and stayed parked there indefinitely. We need every tool at our disposal and every resource we can muster to ensure that success is within reach for all walks of our community – a level of success everyone can take part in.