Blog: Dan Gilmartin

Dan Gilmartin is our guest blogger this week. He is the youngest executive director in the 108 year history of the Michigan Municipal League. Dan previously served as the League's deputy director and as an advocate in Lansing and in Washington, where he concentrated on transportation, land use and urban redevelopment.

Check back here each week day to read Dan's thoughts on regionalism and how we can build the kind of community that attracts knowledge-based workers.

Post No. 3

There are a lot of interested eyes focused on the question of regionalism in Michigan. All of the issues under the broad umbrella of regionalism deserve our attention as we seek ways to reenergize our state. If you’re interested in checking out some of the successful collaborations in local government go to and click on the joint public services icon. You’ll be amazed at what is already taking place in and around the area.    

There are a number of fine examples coming from the business sector too, including the work currently being done by groups like Detroit Renaissance in conjunction with local leaders. Detroit Renaissance has undertaken a regional economic development benchmarking study for Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties. Part of the effort is to help identify other regions around the world that metro Detroit could aspire to emulate. Their researchers have concentrated efforts on big picture regional strategies like developing the region’s creative capital, improving the business environment for technology based companies and investing in vital infrastructure.  

I highlight this model not simply on its own merits, but because it is an excellent example of what true regionalism could ultimately mean for our state. Instead of pitting city vs. county or township vs. village over who cuts the grass in medians, regional leaders need to focus on making this a better place to live, learn and do business for 2007 and beyond. 

Regionalism should be as much about vision and strategy as it is about service delivery. Learning to leverage our collective resources to improve quality of life is paramount to the region’s future. Linking Detroit’s cultural center to Hamtramck’s ethnic community and Northville’s Victorian downtown and Ann Arbor’s college town atmosphere is all part of the fabric of a successful regional strategy.  Others have figured it out, so can we.