As we wind up 2017 it’s a good time to think about the past and plan for the future.
The Flint & Genesee Chamber of Commerce has done both.
Earlier this year it launched an initiative called “2020: Building the Future.” It focuses on development projects and education and destination programs that the chamber says will transform Flint and Genesee County and set both on the path to expanded growth.
The initiative has three goals:
- Increase and diversify investment to impact the quality and quantity of jobs
- Enhance the knowledge and skills of the community through innovative programs
- Achieve enterprise efficiency and effectiveness
- Improve public perception of Flint and Genesee
“While the water crisis continues to be a difficult situation for many residents of the City of Flint, we are determined to work along parallel paths with the city,” the chamber said when it introduced the program. “As they work to bring the water infrastructure up to standards, the Chamber will continue the hard-fought progress that has been made diversifying and growing our local economy. We have a very clear vision of what needs to be accomplished and we want our stakeholders to know our focus areas and how we are pursuing them.”
The chamber rolled out the project to 400 business and community leaders who attended its annual meeting last spring.
The road has been paved. In 2016 there was more $503 million in business investment and government contract value. Tourism activity generated more than $131 million in economic impact. Overall total wage growth increased 24.8 percent from 2010-2015 and Genesee County’s unemployment rate was down to 5 percent in December 2016 from 5.8 percent the previous year. In addition, home prices rose 3.26 percent in 2016 over 2015.
“This is evidence that we have great momentum, and we have every intention of keeping it going,” the chamber said.
The initiative imagines a convergence of advanced manufacturing with health care, technology, life sciences and higher education, along with improved quality of life. That collaboration could result in:
- 5,000 underemployed workers moving up the earnings ladder
- More and better jobs through the growth of export products and services.
- 1,000 teens being hired by private sector and nonprofit employers
- Becoming ground zero for autonomous vehicle production through Kettering University’s GM Mobility Research Center – putting Flint at the forefront of the development of next generation technology
- More craft businesses, such as welding, woodworkers, makers, organic foods and breweries
- The Flint water infrastructure has been addressed
- Two new, full-service grocery stores in north Flint
- New, mixed income modern housing
- Increased bike rental locations throughout local parks
- Additional hotels to provide more space for meetings and events, and enrich visitors’ experiences
- The Flint River sheds its notoriety and becomes a community asset again — increasing the quality of life for residents and non-residents alike
- The University Avenue Corridor plan is fully realized, anchored by two universities and new businesses
“These are highly impactful projects that can go a long way to change the trajectory of the region’s economic growth, not to mention public perception,” the chamber said. “In fact, some of the projects are hallmarks of cities and regions that have great turn around stories. Whether you realize it or not, we are well on our way.”
We can’t wait for the numbers to come out for 2017. While there is much work to be done, we believe Flint is on a roll.