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As we head into an election in November during which Michigan will elect a new governor and fill all 148 state legislative seats, it’s vital for candidates and voters to realize the importance of our major cities and their value in attracting the talent, jobs and prosperity that benefit our entire state.

As mayors of 13 of Michigan’s largest cities, the Urban Core Mayors encourage candidates for governor and the Legislature to engage in a wide-ranging discussion about policies they would undertake to help our cities become stronger drivers of our state’s economy.

It’s a discussion we’re eager to get started. We know the struggles of Michigan’s cities -- and their incredible potential.

Successful states are driven by successful metro regions that are anchored by successful cities.

To help jumpstart a dialogue with candidates, we encourage them to focus on investing in our communities and recognize that today’s mobile talent is choosing to locate in great cities.

As we look around the nation, we see successful cities have states with policies that:

1. Recognize the value of creating the kinds of places that attract and retain college graduates. That means investing in cities to ensure they have the kind of talent that major companies need to grow and attract good-paying knowledge industry jobs.

2. Invest in public safety. Proper investment in public safety has a positive effect on quality of life, health, physical and economic well-being for residents and businesses across Michigan. It ensures we have the police and fire services needed to protect residents and neighborhoods, businesses and their employees, and visitors who come to experience all the great amenities our communities offer.

3. Support public transit. Robust public transit options enable people to get to work, the doctor, the local restaurant or shop, enhancing quality of life. Michigan must prioritize investment in public transit if we want to develop, attract and retain the talent necessary to thrive in a new economy.

4. Inclusive and welcoming communities. Michigan needs to be immigrant friendly. It needs to be LGBTQ friendly. We must act in a way that is reflective of the community we want to live in, one that respects and appreciates what each person has to offer and supports them in pursuing happy, healthy, fulfilling lives.

5. Work collectively with business leaders. We know business leaders see a future where talent is the economic driver, and that cities are a vital magnet for that talent.

We call on gubernatorial and legislative candidates to engage in a conversation with us about how we invest in cities. Voters need to hear from candidates about what they will do to make our cities competitive and how they will help them provide critical services businesses, workers, residents and families want.

By Mayor Jack O’Reilly, Jr., City of Dearborn Mayor Bobby Hopewell, City of Kalamazoo and Mayor Rosalynn Bliss, City of Grand Rapids

The Urban Core Mayors, founded in 1992, represent the interests of the cities of Ann Arbor, Battle Creek, Bay City, Dearborn, Detroit, Flint, Grand Rapids, Jackson, Kalamazoo, Lansing, Muskegon, Pontiac and Saginaw – communities powering the Michigan economy.

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