Economic Development, Education, and Health Care

Muskegon aims to address livability in 100 days

Community Health Innovation Region is leading challenge in collaboration with area organizations.

August 23, 2019
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(As seen on WZZM TV 13) A group of leaders in Muskegon is launching a new 100-day challenge to address overall livability issues.

The goal is for all residents to have the opportunity to achieve economic self-sufficiency to ensure the community will not only thrive but that all residents and families have the opportunity to individually prosper.

Led by the Community Health Innovation Region, the challenge is a collaboration between several organizations, including Mercy Health and United Way of the Lakeshore, the Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce, Muskegon Community College and the Muskegon Area Intermediate School District. Muskegon CHIR is a federal- and state-funded initiative that has worked toward the goal of improving population health and Muskegon County for three years.

The 100-day challenge is kicking off with a daylong workshop Sept. 10 called Livability Lab, where about 200-300 attendees will convene to identify and initiate strategies that confront barriers to upward mobility and well-being for residents and growth for local business and enterprise.

The summit is meant to align attendees around a specific vision and identify all the various factors that get in the way of achieving that vision. Teams will form at the event to brainstorm and tackle issues that come to the forefront, such as educational achievement, health and transportation.

“We really believe that the way to make long-term structural change in people's lives is to get the human service and the health and the business (sectors) and everybody to be working together on an ultimate goal,” said Mary MacDonald, director, Muskegon CHIR. “So, the way we do that is we get people in a room from all of those various sectors and challenge each other to make it better.”

She said the goal is for residents to have a major part in the discussion. She said CHIR has talked to 340 community residents during its research.

“And people talk about feeling disconnected,” she said. “They also talked about having huge pride and wanting to know their neighbors and being engaged.”

MacDonald thinks a primary focus at the event will be on workforce development and the many issues surrounding it.

“If we recognize that there are pockets where folks are particularly challenged to get in a pipeline, pick one of those and let's figure out what needs to happen for that to be the case,” she said. 

The Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce plans to send a few younger staff members to the summit to help ensure well-rounded livability plans at the end of the 100 days, said Cindy Larsen, Muskegon Chamber president.

“Livability is of interest to us because it's a critical component in attracting and retaining talent,” Larsen said. “Connecting people is part of our mission.”

MacDonald said having the chamber involved is particularly important because of the connection to jobs.

Each team at the summit will be asked to schedule regular meetings over the following 100-day period after the summit concludes. During the 100 days, groups will target solutions and initiate strategies to address their chosen barrier issues. Each team will receive staff support and resources to assist their process.

To support the 100-Day Challenge, CHIR leadership will be working with Michigan State University’s ABLe Change Framework design team. From launch until the end, staff will support team processes and record meeting notes.

Throughout the process, staff will identify data and best national practices to help each team move forward. Team members also will receive an ABLe-developed participant launch guide and other materials to inform the process and help them team achieve success.

When the 100 days are over in December, the teams will reconvene for a second one-day summit celebration event where they will report on their progress. The Muskegon CHIR will invite local and state funders and investors to attend the second summit to learn about how their goals may align with the strategies teams bring forward.

The first summit will take place at The Folkert Community Hub, 640 Seminole Road in Norton Shores.

Attendees are asked to register by Aug. 30 online at livabilitylab.com. 

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