Action Agenda

Strategies for Success

The Forward Together action agenda represents the culmination of a year-long process to improve the alignment and strategic positioning across the communities of Genesee County. The priorities of these communities shine through in the dozens of proposals that are elevated in the final action agenda. But the work doesn’t end with the completion of the process. The action agenda 1.0, is just the first representation of what could move the county closer to its vision. Evaluation, refinement, and continued collaboration will be key to the success of the initiative. Last, the community’s role within Forward Together was paramount. Trust builds through listening and a shared sense of responsibility. Without the community’s buy-in, it will be difficult for the initiative to succeed.

Strategies

  • Strategy A: Turn community challenges into economic opportunities
  • Strategy B: Continue to focus on business attraction and retention
  • Strategy C: Evaluate and expand tourism options
  • Strategy D: Grow and coordinate community programs
  • Strategy E: Build great places
  • Strategy F: Invest in 21st-century economic infrastructure
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TURN COMMUNITY CHALLENGES INTO

ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITIES

An aging workforce, low literacy skills, and insufficient housing options represent a few of the community challenges Genesee County and its communities face. However, within each short- and long-term challenge lies a unique opportunity to redefine the county’s potential for economic growth and prosperity.

Genesee County has already displayed its ability to invigorate the community by taking the lead in resolving many of the real challenges. Building on this through efforts such as leveraging career development for talented individuals or focusing revitalization around the neighborhood will open endless opportunities to enhance all the communities. The foundation for improvement is already in place and by emphasizing these assets, the communities of Genesee County can ensure that every economic opportunity will be explored and aligned to strengthen the county.

A.1
Enable a lean/small scale development program tied to the land bank

The Genesee County Land Bank provides a unique opportunity to stimulate small scale development that encourages neighborhood investment while addressing residential blight across all the communities.

A.2
Launch an opportunity-oriented talent attraction campaign

The communities of Genesee County have experienced well-documented challenges in recent years opening pathways for determined individuals to leave a positive mark on the future of the county.

A.3
Focus on neighborhood-scale business development

Pulse development, areas of focused investment, have potential to bring new vitality to residential neighborhoods through the creation of vibrant destinations for residents to live, work, and relax.

A.4
Launch an age-friendly community planning effort

Genesee County’s workforce and residents are aging faster, requiring more specialized resources to support essential programs and services that embrace aging in place across the county.

A.5
Focus on food production

Leveraging the food production cycle through emerging technologies will build future capacity to address a wide range of community needs in all the communities of Genesee County.

CONTINUE TO FOCUS ON BUSINESS

ATTRACTION AND RETENTION

Diversifying the economy is key to long-term sustainability for the region. This involves growing new businesses through an entrepreneurship support system, fostering business connections, cultivating strong leaders, and supporting businesses through programs that help them expand and create jobs. In addition to these local efforts, business and talent attraction will require intentional promotion of the community’s assets that appeal to the needs and interests of firms and talent, looking to grow and invest in a community that is ripe with opportunity to make an impact.

Further developing the business community from local entrepreneurs to large headquarters will protect the long-term sustainability of the economy. Expanding talent recruitment, fostering professional connections through mentorship, and supporting the business growth environment are all important to the continued success of Genesee County’s business community. Maintaining these programs while leveraging new opportunities to diversify resources for employers demonstrates the commitment the communities of Genesee County provide to business professionals. This dedication around knowing the community’s assets and marketing them to employers will position the county and its communities as the ideal location for leadership development.

B.1
Enhance the county’s competitive advantages, by reducing development time through speculative flex space

Leveraging Genesee County’s low-cost, developable land to provide sufficient “flex” space options is the first step towards establishing a profitable investment system.

B.2
Increase coordination with entrepreneur ecosystem to help businesses scale

Refining the entrepreneurship pathway is a critical focus for developing innovative, local industries while building personal prosperity for businesses throughout Genesee County.

B.3
Develop out a local supply chain initiative by expanding the meet the buyer initiative

Genesee County has numerous industries that offer high demand services and production requiring robust supply and through evaluation of the supply chain, the county can understand local disconnects within the system.

B.4
Develop a mentorship network of Flint / Genesee diaspora to foster local business growth

Genesee County’s workforce and residents are aging faster, requiring more specialized resources to support essential programs and services that embrace aging in place across the county.

B.5
Develop a regional talent recruitment initiative

Talent recruitment programming serves an essential role in connecting the career possibilities with the people-focused and place-focused assets the communities of Genesee County offer.

B.6
Identify and connect with emerging statewide industry initiatives that may have an application to Flint / Genesee

Genesee County has the potential to foster change from within while pursuing competitive outside opportunities to support growth and stability for all the communities.

EVALUATE AND EXPAND TOURISM OPTIONS

From natural features to vibrant downtowns, Genesee County is home to countless destinations for all types of visitors. Building the memorable experience for visitors will solidify the communities of Genesee County for their one-of-a-kind attractions, locally sourced products, and diverse lifestyle options.

Every visitor and resident of a community has a unique experience that builds the branding of that community. Whether it’s focused on the accessible parks and landmarks or on the lively events in downtown, each attraction has the ability to influence how people perceive the community. Emphasizing the experience of visitors enhances the memorable qualities that people will share through word of mouth, bringing more visitors to Genesee County. Investing in marketing strategies on destinations, promoting the unique brands of the county’s diverse communities, and highlighting the locally made products are all factors that directly improve the perception of Genesee County. Continuing to refine these strategies while spotlighting the Genesee County “originals” secures how people remember their time and experience in the community.

C.1
Build on visitor experience initiative 

Genesee County and its communities welcome visitors daily playing a major role in the personal experience of these travellers. Whether taking part in the agritourism opportunities, visiting amenities and attractions, or passing through to northern Michigan, these visitors all experience a portion of the county.

C.2
Increase selfie/instagram moments

Community branding plays an important role in identifying destinations and attracting visitors. The unique features of a community including public art, murals, cultural locations, and historical sites build upon the visitor experience through their individuality.

C.3
Identify ways to utilize the rest area as a marketing device for the county

The county is positioned as not only a crossroads with the interstate system but as a destination unique to Michigan. Every day, tens of thousands of people travel through Genesee County experiencing part of the county with their daily commute.

C.4
Incorporate materials into talent package

Genesee County and its communities have a compelling story to tell about their success to-date and on-going improvements. These stories represent the community values serving as marketing material for talent attraction.

GROW AND COORDINATE COMMUNITY PROGRAMS

The communities of Genesee County don’t need to foster innovation, they’ve already defined the best practice examples across all community programs. Now is the time to evolve those programs into the “2.0” versions, embracing sustainability while pushing for scalability throughout the county.

Almost every version of best practice programs around community enhancement exist within Genesee County. Some of these programs are just beginning while others have long-standing reputations from rural communities to urban downtowns. These have operated in their original formats leaving potential gaps and missed opportunities in redefining the county’s potential. With an aging workforce and growing technical training, this presents a unique opportunity and moment in time to take stock of all existing programs. Through reviewing their throughput and efficacy and determining the necessary improvements, each program can excel to the “2.0” version leading to significant community enhancement.

D.1
Review vocational training and awareness

Vocational training is a major component in supporting Genesee County’s economic competitiveness. These programs provide essential educational courses, certifications, and workshops that maintain a skillful workforce.

D.2
Enhance talent retention recruitment program

Each year thousands of students graduate from one of the three colleges located in Genesee County. These colleges serve as important talent pipelines for the county, preparing students for many job opportunities available in Genesee.

D.3
Ensure programs are reflecting the changing demographics of the coming workforce

The demographics of Genesee County’s workforce is changing rapidly. Younger professionals are entering, resulting in a growing need to align programs with the changing needs of industry. Education, workforce readiness, accessibility, and distribution methods are a few focus areas that programs must address to support the new professionals within the workforce.

D.4
Address the jobs/homes mismatch through strategic investments in transit

Access to job opportunities relies heavily on the public transit system, connecting employment centers to neighborhoods. Both existing employers and future employment growth requires a well connected and efficient public transit system to support the workforce. Currently, Genesee County experiences a low ridership rate from the workforce when it comes to the regional transit system.

BUILD GREAT PLACES

Diverse places is an understatement for the county with 11 cities, five villages, and seventeen townships composing Genesee County. Each place is uniquely distinct, supported by the built environment and atmosphere that contains the endless potential to embody the phrase “great places”.

Great places are influenced by many factors, both around the built environment and the experience of visiting the area. Each of Genesee County’s communities has great places with the potential to further heighten and expand their network of unique destinations. By focusing investment into neighborhoods, continuing improvements in downtowns, protecting natural features, and encouraging strategic growth, each community can leverage opportunities for great places. These diverse places, when outlined across the county, embrace the various lifestyle options available that are unique to Genesee County and define it as an allencompassing region.

E.1
Promote investment in downtowns and main streets for talent, tourist, and business attraction purposes

Downtown’s at all scales represent unique places that define the character of the community. These compact, walkable areas provide a variety of businesses including restaurants, retail, and office along with a mixture of housing options.

E.2
Continue supporting a balanced approach to land use including open space, agricultural land preservation, and promote infill development / redevelopment

Land use planning provides a variety of benefits to the larger community by ensuring development aligns with community needs. Protecting natural features, maintaining agricultural land, encouraging economic development opportunities, and providing open space connections are all vital to the future growth of individual communities and the county.

E.3
Manage the portfolio of living options across the county

Genesee County has a limited variety of housing options to meet the demands of its residents. Some residents may gravitate towards an urban, walkable downtown while others prefer the natural, rural settings in the county.

E.4
Create great neighborhoods – focus the energy

Building the comeback story for Genesee County begins with neighborhood revitalization. These neighborhoods influence many community quality of life factors from housing types to open space networks to walkability to places for work and entertainment.

INVEST IN 21ST CENTURY

ECONOMIC INFRASTRUCTURE

Genesee County has built out significant infrastructure to meet the peak demand of the economy, supporting many of the large industries still present today. However, with shifting needs came a resulting burden of maintaining the substantial infrastructure that has reduced need across the communities.

“Fix the damn roads”…is a phrase that almost every resident, employee, and visitors to Genesee County can relate. Miles of corridors throughout the county have since deteriorated from their original demand and only represent a portion of the infrastructure problem. However, within this underlying problem lies an opportunity to embrace the innovative culture of enhancing the community that Genesee County is known for. Through identifying key corridors and focusing investment into economic areas, the county can define a pathway forward to diminish the growing infrastructure maintenance costs and bring new vitality to underutilized areas. And it’s not just about physical infrastructure. If the economic shutdown of 2020 taught us anything, it’s that high-speed connectivity is critical for business, education, and families.

F.1
Ensure high-speed connectivity throughout the county

High-speed Internet has become an expected infrastructure for the business community. It enables organizations to operate on the most modern, 21st century technology providing essential services that meet the growing demand. Innovations continue to improve Internet connectivity providing faster service and reliability for future business growth.

F.2
Identify and prioritize key critical economic corridors for reinvestment

Genesee County and its communities have numerous corridors built during peak economic conditions which have become neglected. These corridors contain substantial reinvestment potential due to their accessibility to existing infrastructure.

F.3
Escape the maintenance churn (Capital Expenditure Planning)

Genesee County and its communities experienced substantial infrastructure expansion to meet the demand of its industries. However, much of the infrastructure in place today has significantly lower demand than its original design.