How can government help to create economic opportunity?
In the ten-county Northwest Michigan region, there are over 190 local units of government, approximately one government for every 1500 residents. Township governments represent 139, or nearly three-quarters, of these units of government.
The responsibilities, capacities, and makeup of these governments vary depending on the type and population of their jurisdiction. Typically, they collect taxes, maintain public facilities, such as parks and infrastructure, regulate the use and development of land, and provide for emergency and fire protection services. Some communities, typically cities and sometimes villages, also provide police protection. They operate with revenues from a variety of sources, including property taxes, state revenue sharing, other state and federal contributions, and fees for services such as sewer and water usage.
Local governments play foundational and powerful roles in economic development, particularly in activities related to place-based assets and development opportunities. When elected and appointed officials are engaged in strategies that leverage the importance of land use and place in economic development, communities can achieve higher-quality growth that contributes to greater investment. In order to attract growth and investment in the new economy, an understanding of local government roles in the new economy is necessary for these decision-makers to effectively engage in economic development activities.