Next American City partnered with IBM and its SmarterCities initiative to encourage citizens across the nation to share how their cities are addressing the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century. The prize for the city with the most posts to the SmarterCities Scan was a profile on their website, and Lansing, Michigan, blew the competition away. Their profile of Lansing by Ivy Hughes is a great read and shows why Lansing just might be Michigan’s most overlooked success story.
For years, various groups have been trying to change the Greater Lansing Region’s image as another Rustbelt city, but these efforts have really taken off in the last few years. Kiplinger recently ranked Lansing as one of the â€œ10 Great Cities for Young Adultsâ€; several Greater Lansing Region businesses have made Inc. magazine’s 5,000 fastest-growing companies; Michigan State University (MSU) was chosen as the home base for a the $500 million Facility for Rare Isotope Beams (FRIB) and is ranked only second to MIT in nuclear physics; and, in 2009, MSU made Entrepreneur magazine’s list of â€œTop Colleges for Business.â€
The author lists some of the factors that make Lansing worthy of this honor including Development, Culture, Ideas, Entrepreneurship and Sustainability, saying:
Changing a city best suited for cars into a walkable, bikeable community is, at the very least, a challenge but several organizations are working to increase the number of bike lanes, walkways and shared use paths. The region’s bus system, CATA, is one of most effective transportation systems among communities similar in size to the Greater Lansing Region and is a major player in the effort to shift the ratio of cars to people on the street. Discussions regarding the incorporation of a light rail system into the region’s long-term transportation plan have just begun.
Sustainability is the driving force behind these transportation efforts and is the catalyst for the region’s vast community garden network and the inspiration for the city’s first urban garden â€” Urbandale farm. Many neighborhood organizations are working to increase the visibility and viability of sustainable eating in the region.
They close with:
…a big thank you to the groups continuing to make the Greater Lansing Region a place we all want to be. They are: #lovelansing, Capital Area Michigan Works!, Accelerate Lansing, YSG Lansing, Capital Gains Media, Keep Learning, LEAP, Grand River Connection, Mid-Michigan Tweet Ups, Prima Civitas, Impression 5, City of East Lansing, NOISE, MSU Catalyst, Walk and Bike Lansing; Greater Lansing Business Monthly; Help Make Mid-Michigan Walk and Bike Friendly!; Lansing Walking & Bicycling Task Force; Arts Council; Lansing Happy Hour Club; and a plethora of hardworking neighborhood associations.
Read more at Next American City and also check out the Lansing tag at Smarter Cities for some of the Capital City’s many assets! There are videos there highlighting all kinds of things about the Greater Lansing area such as the many festivals which draw over 1/2 million people a year to the region and this one from Greater Lansing. While it’s definitely idealized, it shows the amazing range of offerings the region holds.