Better Communities. Better Michigan.

The Michigan Municipal League identified eight essential assets that make communities vibrant places in the 21st Century. Helping Michigan’s leaders grow these assets in their own communities serves as the focus of the League. Research continues to show that “placemaking” matters more than ever, as an increasingly mobile workforce seeks out neighborhoods before finding jobs and opening up businesses.

Our purpose is to help local officials identify, develop, and implement strategies that will grow and strengthen Michigan’s communities in the coming decades. You will find a lot to get you started right on this website, including comprehensive resources, how-to solutions, transformative projects, multimedia, and the latest breaking news.

Building 21st century communities

Experts from around the world – in academic, business and public sectors alike – agree that investing in communities is a critical element to long-term economic development in the 21st century.  Michigan’s future depends on its ability to attract and retain knowledge-based workers.  Central to attracting this priceless commodity is place. Research proves that successful 21st century communities effectively leverage the League’s eight assets, creating Better Communities Better Michigan.

The League’s Eight Assets

Through our Public Policy forums, research, and education, the League identified the eight assets that Michigan’s communities need to grow and strengthen, for our state to sustain and prosper in coming years. A grant from the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA) allowed the League to feature expert speakers with cutting-edge, creative solutions for creating better communities in Michigan. Research shows that Physical Design & Walkability, Green Initiatives, Cultural Economic Development, Entrepreneurship, Multiculturalism, Messaging & Technology, Transit, and Education are essential to a community’s livelihood.

Technical services and assistance are available to the League’s member communities, including diagnostic community audits and prescriptive consulting. We will provide assistance in implementing your strategy, help identify grants and funding, and offer other useful information. The League also works to identify solutions and best practices in these eight asset areas, and offers samples, models, and tool kits aimed at inspiring local leaders to learn from the successes of other communities in Michigan and around the globe.

We intend this site, the League’s Twitter and the  League’s Facebook page to inspire Michigan residents in all sectors of society to participate in our mission. We are listening to your feedback.   21st Century Communities brochure 

Placemaking Book

The League feels so strongly about the 21c3 program and related assets, that we published a book about placemaking as an economic development tool. Learn more about The Economics of Place: The Value of Building Communities Around People here and on a blog by League CEO Dan Gilmartin here. You can also order it here on

Pilot Projects

Experts from around the world agree that investing in communities is one of the most critical elements of any long-term economic development strategy. We believe this is especially true in Michigan, and that “place” matters more than ever.

To prove it, we began our pilot project series. Five pilot communities—Alpena, Lapeer, Lathrup Village, Sault Ste. Marie, and Ypsilanti—have put theory into action to demonstrate the impact of these principals and their applicability regardless of size or location. Through their demonstration projects, communities across the state will better understand how to leverage a unique sense of place in a community to enhance quality of life and attract the people and businesses that will fuel the 21st century economy. Please view the Pilot Program report, and be sure to check out each community’s project presentations/report below:

Alpena, Cultural Economic Development
Lapeer, Non-motorized Transportation/Transit
Lathrup Village, Complete Streets/Physical Design & Walkability
Sault Ste. Marie, Town/Gown Strategy, Education
Ypsilanti, Farmer’s Market/Entrepreneurship