In order for Flint and Genesee County communities to grow, development must be inclusionary of everyone.
That’s the premise of the new Forward Together initiative, which aims to create alignment and momentum between Genesee County stakeholders with divergent interests in an effort to promote the good among us.
Melding city-county, corporate-community, church and philanthropic interests will not be an easy task, but hopes are buoyed by the mixing bowl approach of the initiative, which includes new faces among what too often has been an impenetrable inner circle.
All 24 members of this newest steering committee will be charged with sharing their insights and perspectives over an eight-month period and, ultimately, to create a shared vision for the region.
The collaborating entities (including the City of Flint, Genesee County, and the Flint & Genesee Chamber of Commerce) initiated the process to create a county-wide vision for economic vitality.
The process will be facilitated with the support of a consulting team including Planning NEXT of Columbus, Ohio and Ninigret Partners of Providence, R.I. according to Chamber director of communications and public relations Elaine Redd.
This effort is intended to establish a common vision for guiding the county forward and will focus on promoting systematic and long-term change in such a way that existing institutions can be more responsive to the community’s needs, Redd says.
Flint & Genesee Chamber of Commerce CEO Tim Herman is optimistic about the outcome.
“Several challenges have hindered the county’s positive momentum, but a lot can be accomplished when we work together to move the community forward, and the Chamber is excited to be a part of this ambitious process,” says Herman.
Putting aside differences is key.
“With our challenges and potential in mind, now is an important time for county-wide collaboration to address economic concerns and build upon our assets,” says Mayor Karen Weaver of the effort.
Flint and Genesee County must avoid the pitfalls that have hindered cities like Detroit. Despite seismic development, these communities have significant gaps between the city’s large-scale developments, population growth, surging employment and languishing neighborhoods.
We must avoid too much concentrated growth and address concentrated poverty by strengthening our prosperity beyond respective downtown and corporate corridors.
Public input will be a critical part of the process.
To ensure community voices are heard, two public engagement sessions will be facilitated during the process. The first will focus on defining the community’s vision for economic prosperity.
The second meeting and related community engagement activities will push forward the ideas of the committee and public.
Ultimately, the input will serve as a foundation for the community’s vision statement, contribute to the plan’s goals, inspire actions, and set the course for implementation. The plan is set to be completed in the third quarter of 2019.
“The most important element of the Economic Vitality Plan is the development of a community-owned vision that will begin to guide our economic development efforts, ensuring that our future is not left to chance,” says Ted Henry, Genesee County Board of Commissioners chair.
New Forward Together committee members include:
Tim Herman, Flint & Genesee Chamber of Commerce
Dr. Karen W. Weaver, Mayor, City of Flint
Scott Bennett, Supervisor, Grand Blanc Township
Ed Benning, Mass Transportation Authority
Jason Caya, Tenacity Brewing
Ted Henry, Chairman, Genesee County Board of Commissioners
Gary Hurand, Management Diversified Inc. Real Estate Services
Ebonie Gipson, I’m Building Something Consulting, LLC
Lisa Hagel, Genesee Intermediate School District
Phil Hagerman, The Hagerman Foundation
Heather Kale, Ferris Wheel
Kevin Keane, Mayor, City of Flushing
Robert Landaal, Landaal Packaging Systems
Dr. Robert McMahan, Kettering University
Isaiah Oliver, Community Foundation of Greater Flint
Kyle McCree, Consumers Energy
Michael Perez, General Motors Flint Assembly
Pastor Patrick Sanders, New Jerusalem Baptist Church
Raquel Theume, Ruth Mott Foundation
Greg Viener, The Huntington National Bank
Dr. Beverly Walker-Griffea, Mott Community College
Ridgway White, C.S. Mott Foundation
Jane Worthing, The Genesee Group
John Wentworth, John Wentworth Real Estate Group
George Wilkinson, NorthGate
Adam Zettel, City Of Swartz Creek
Asa Zuccaro, Hispanic Technology & Community Center
Editor’s Note: Jackie Berg is the founder and publisher of TheHUB Flint and TheHUB Detroit and the 2018 recipient of the Association of Women in Communication’s Vanguard Award .