The UniverCities Story, Part 1: The Michigan Suburbs Alliance

Stronger together.

The UniverCities Connection program may seem like the new kid on the block. True, it’s just now graduated from its old web page into the blogosphere. But like any fresh face, it’s got its own unique ancestry. This year’s UniverCities interns are here thanks to a chain of events stretching back almost a decade.

In 2002, city officials from the older suburban towns around metro Detroit realized they faced common problems that demanded collective solutions. The region’s continued outward sprawl had hit these “inner-ring” or “first-tier” suburbs with the population loss and disinvestment already hobbling the central city. They decided that for the long-term prosperity of the entire region, these destructive patterns had to be replaced by cooperative action that benefited all communities. The Michigan Suburbs Alliance was born.

The Alliance's Ferndale headquarters.

Since that time, the Suburbs Alliance has grown from 14 metro Detroit communities to more than thirty. It’s helped cities remove barriers to new investment through its Redevelopment Ready Communities program and launched the Regional Energy Office to help them collaborate in cutting energy use and promoting environmental sustainability.

As early as 2005, the UniverCities Connection program provided the Suburbs Alliance with vital student talent for research that helped get major initiatives off the ground. This summer’s intern program, however, has a special connection to one of the Suburbs Alliance’s newest projects: the Millennial Mayors Congress. We’ll bring you the full story next week.

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