17-stop tour gathers info on Michigan cities’ needs


BATTLE CREEK, Mich. (WOOD) — Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist held roundtable discussions in Battle Creek and Kalamazoo Monday about the Thriving Cities initiative aimed at improving individual cities and communities.

The lieutenant governor has been the point person on Thriving Cities, but Gov. Gretchen Whitmer joined him at one of the recent meetings in Lansing to signal her support for the effort.

“I think that this needs to drive the policy work we do,” Whitmer said.

On the Thriving Cities tour, Gilchrist is meeting with elected officials and the people who live in communities to help assess their needs.

“This 17-stop tour is really an attempt to listen and collect information about how we can improve quality of life on affordable housing, generational economic opportunity, kids in cities and a host of other issues,” Gilchrist said, “and we’re hearing some really great feedback from the people on the ground that are doing the work that have real-life experience about what we need to do at a state level, at a local level and at a federal level.”

The meetings, which can run as long as two hours, take a deep dive into what’s happening in individual communities from Marquette to Kalamazoo and Battle Creek to, just the last two weeks, Lansing and Grand Rapids.

Whitmer said there are challenges that are shared and unique.

“We’ve got a phenomenal diversity in our state and in cities across Michigan, there are different challenges. We need to operate with an informed agenda and that’s what this is really about,” she said.

At the end of his tour, Gilchrist will form some type of action plan. It could involve executive or legislative action, but getting the information is the first step by taking an all-encompassing view.

“It really has to be with a wide lens,” Whitmer said. “In Grand Rapids, we know that affordable housing, access to affordable housing, is one of the most important issues that people are confronting and that’s critically important in the agenda that we’re going to continue to push forward.”

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