Community Leaders Brainstorm Saginaw's Future

A dinner cruise on the river, indoor sports complex and Saginaw 'transit hub' were among ideas discussed at Monday's New ERA Community Group-sponsored community summit. 
Sarah Lewis, facilitator of Saginaw's recent Urban Design Charrette development conference, presented key findings to a room of local legislators and community leaders as well as federal and state department representatives.
It's not the group's vision - it's the community's vision, of which everyone is a stakeholder, she said.
A permanent indoor farmer's market, trolley system and public beach were other brainstorms.
Project partner and University of Michigan Economic Diversification Center Director Lawrence Molnar compared the work ahead to that of a business plan.
"(It's) being as they say, 'shovel-ready,'" he said. "Well, Saginaw is 'shovel-ready' - so let's get digging."
No stranger to community and economic development planning, Molnar said a previous Ann Arbor project led to investments of hundreds of millions of dollars in the area.
"Since we did that project, there has been $500 million dollars worth of new investment in the State Street area, including Google moving down there," he said.
Summit breakout sessions for the about 100 participants focused on growing six key sectors including education, safety, entertainment and culture.
New ERA Communications Director Kimberly Butler said it's all about connecting ideas to resources.
"The people in the room today are leaders who have knowledge or resources to bring this plan to bear," she said. "So this is, we think, a historic moment for the city of Saginaw."
Lewis also gave a progress report at Monday evening's Saginaw City Council meeting. 
Organization spearhead Delores McKinney said one initiative - a start up business incubator - is moving forward with an upcoming feasibility study.

Tom Sullivan