Mayors tour the FANUC America Robotics facility in Rochester Hills, Michigan.
Most people agree that Washington, D.C. is deeply dysfunctional today, mired in partisanship that only seems to worsen every year. The sad truth is that it often seems like nothing gets done in our nation’s capital. Nevertheless, I can’t help but feel optimistic about the future of our local communities. Despite inaction at the federal level, last week I witnessed how mayors and local leaders across the country are finding bipartisan solutions to the problems facing all communities.
Co-hosted by Mayor Mike Duggan and Rochester Hills Mayor Bryan Barnett, last week, the U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM) convened its Fall Leadership Meeting in Rochester Hills, Mich. Leaders from across the country met to discuss issues impacting cities and to share solutions. Nearly 50 bipartisan mayors representing USCM leadership attended the three–day meeting where we exchanged best practices and solutions to the problems facing the communities we serve.
Discussed were a wide range of critical issues facing cities across the country, and they shared how mayors in other municipalities are tackling those problems. Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley and El Paso Mayor Dee Margo shared the lessons their communities learned from the recent gun violence that’s affected their cities. There was conversation about how to end the ongoing opioid crisis. And discussion about steps that can be taken to revitalize struggling communities.
At the meeting, Executive Director of the White House Opportunity and Revitalization Council talked about the “Opportunity Zone” program – a community development initiative that encourages long-term investments in the parts of cities that need it the most. This program can help underdeveloped communities in southeast Michigan by allowing cities to partner with the private sector to bring in jobs and investment.
U.S. Census Bureau leadership was present and discussed strategies to help ensure a complete count. Here again, local officials and community influences are instrumental in promoting public awareness about the 2020 Census.
“Looking ahead, I can’t help but be optimistic about our country’s metro areas and cities,” said Mayor Barnett. “Just last month, USCM’s 18th annual U.S. Metro Economies report highlighted that cities and metro regions continue to be the engines of U.S. economic growth, serving as home to 85.9 percent of the nation’s population and 91.1 percent of real gross domestic product (GDP). In fact, in 2018, metro areas added 2.1 million jobs, accounting for 94 percent of all U.S. job gains.”
The fact is that America’s mayors can’t afford not to act. Across the country, it is mayors who are leading the revitalization of American cities like Detroit. It is mayors who are thinking about problems differently and delivering innovative solutions. And it is mayors who are refusing to allow polarization to get in the way of progress.
“We will continue working together and learning from each other to find solutions that will make our cities and this country a better place,” added Mayor Barnett. “We know that everyone does better when we come together to find real solutions that address our biggest challenges. Together, we can develop policies that foster innovation, create opportunity and build stronger communities.”