Townsend Proposes Idea of a Regional Dashboard

Commentary by Rep. Jim Townsend
Friday, January 28, 2011

A centerpiece of Governor Snyder’s State of the State address was his creation of a dashboard of metrics designed to measure important factors that will show whether we are making progress in turning around our state’s economy. This is a very positive idea because it encourages policy makers and the public to focus on a common set of facts on which to base our strategies for fixing Michigan.

But as the Governor and many others have pointed out, Michigan does not have one economy but instead a set of distinct regional economies. Given that, we should develop a set of regional dashboards that will tell us if our actions are making our regions more prosperous. This regional focus fits perfectly into Governor Snyder’s other economic strategies, which entail devolving authority and resources from the state to regions and leveraging the strength of regional economic development organizations such as Automation Alley, Tech Town and Ann Arbor Spark.

A Southeast Michigan regional dashboard could also get regional leaders, including those of us in the state Legislature, to focus our priorities on actions that will improve regional dashboard metrics. That is the focused, disciplined and non-ideological approach that residents tell me they want. Governor Snyder deserves credit for showing us the way. Leaders from Southeast Michigan and elsewhere should take that thought a step further.