Blog: Michele Hodges

Due to a successful compromise, the Troy Transit Center, plans for which were initially derailed, is back on track for completion in the fall of 2013. Michele Hodges, president of the Troy Chamber of Commerce, discusses why communities should have a AAA mindset and how the transit center was resurrected.

Yes to Healthy Controversy

Transit.  My hunch is a multitude of readers just developed a rash, for the mere term causes some level of angst for just about everyone, no matter where on the spectrum one may lie.  There are those that are frustrated it continues to be discussed, and those discouraged that transit assets aren't satisfactorily in place.  Either way, not many would disagree if we were to label the topic "controversial".

I purport that controversy is a good thing if managed properly.  It serves the purpose of grounding the due diligence process with opposing points of view, which ultimately leads to higher quality outcomes when properly integrated into the decision making process.

Where controversy crosses the line and becomes destructive is when paralysis results and impedes economic health.  This is why it must be managed by highly skilled, respected leaders, and why our communities must be anchored with an inspired vision that has been created by a diversity of stakeholders, and built on a foundation of integrity.  Integrity is crucial, because it leads to trusting relationships, which are an important vehicle for action.

What we have striven for here in Troy, with respect to the Troy Transit Center, is a vision that speaks to a diversity of stakeholders.  For example, if one happens to be of a liberal ilk, there is comfort in knowing government has invested in infrastructure and, for those of a more conservative bent, the stepped approach to reducing the financial burden on the taxpayer is favorable.  By engaging a wide spectrum of stakeholders, Troy is moving forward as a result of the controversy, and paralysis has been avoided.

If communities embrace and manage controversy, it can be a positive.  Together we can reform the problem solving process and inspire an efficiency that doesn't damage the spirit of our Detroit region, and unites, rather than divides.  I look forward to discussing potential tools and tactics for achieving continued forward momentum in future posts.

Important Resource to Highlight – as the communities comprising our Detroit region seek an inspiring vision, the Michigan Municipal League can help.  It has identified the "Eight Essential Assets" of 21st Century Communities.  Transit happens to be one of them.