That question can get as many different responses as the people asked. Our very own Don Wortman explored this question in a recent article published in the Michigan Township News (January/February 2011 – see the article here: Michigan Township News CWA Cover Story). Don found that the answer can be distilled down to a few common features. Wortman focused on the physical and tangible attributes that create a “quality community” and that may help communities attract knowledge-based workers and industries. Knowledge-based industries are a key growth sector which will help Michigan transition from its reliance on manufacturing to more varied industries such as alternative energy, communications, computer technology, film industry and health care, requiring talented workers with a unique combination of knowledge, creativity and entrepreneurship.
Townships, villages and cities that provide a range of housing opportunities, mix of land uses, compact and denser development forms, walkable neighborhoods, attractive public areas, open space and alternative forms of transportation will be able to succeed at attracting and retaining knowledge-based workers and industries.
In the end, as Wortman contends, these key ingredients need to be supported by the community-building services provided by the local governments, organizations and businesses. Most particularly, communities which welcome new business enterprises and promote this at both the local and regional levels, position themselves to be competitive in this new economy.