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Michele Hodges

Due to a successful compromise, the Troy Transit Center, plans for which were initially derailed, is back on track for completion in the fall of 2013. Michele Hodges, president of the Troy Chamber of Commerce, discusses why communities should have a AAA mindset and how the transit center was resurrected.

The AAA Mindset

In the last post, controversy in communities was positioned as a potentially positive matter, if in fact skilled leadership is in place.  A method such leaders can implement to build the foundation of trust, respect and credibility required for controversy to have a positive impact on communities comprises today's topic.

It is difficult to research initiatives impacting our communities in a highly charged political environment where neutral, scholarly debate is infrequent, and when accountability for sources contributing to the stream of information is lacking.   How does our Detroit region overcome this?  How can one take a more measured, scholarly approach to decision making?  What will lead to empowered voters, elected leaders, and any other stakeholders seeking to weigh in on matters that have the potential to propel a thriving marketplace?  How can they all become better decision makers?

I'd like to suggest one solution might lie within the context of three recognizable letters – AAA.  If communities invest in a "AAA mindset", the outcomes could be tremendous, for it is safe to assume jurisdictions with an AAA bond rating have excellent schools, quality housing, credentialed management, access to infrastructure, diverse neighborhoods, and top rankings in all other categories of significance.

Perhaps an initiative could be launched that seeks to measure initiatives within the context of AAA.  Simply put, is the initiative likely to positively or negatively impact the bond rating of the neighboring jurisdictions?   Is it of an "AAA mindset" or, put another way, can it be considered "AAA behavior"?  Having such insight would inspire more substantial outcomes.
Who could lead this analysis?  Clearly it would be critical to identify a credible, trusted, respected and, to the extent possible, neutral authority that has the capacity to manage the process.  Early suggestions would include university and/or foundation presidents that have a stake in our region, yet aren't as likely to be mired in the political process.

It would be difficult to debate the value of data driven decision making, and it is tantalizing to imagine a future that empowers us all to be the highest quality decision makers.  A "AAA mindset" is an opportunity to raise the bar, and to strengthen the advocacy process.  When data driven analysis is joined with the passion we all feel for our communities, suddenly we all become statesmen, yet we still have the freedom to be advocates for the viable future we all seek.  Doing so honors the future, and creates an environment wherein the word "controversy" suddenly sheds its negative connotation, and the Detroit region takes a healthy step forward.

Important Resource to Highlight – The Center for Michigan leads the "Michigan Truth Squad", which seeks to minimize the number of false and misleading statements sometimes made by candidates, or issues advocates.  Our communities are strengthened when accountability is enhanced.


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