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‘Vibe’ important for a community

I call it the “vibe” of a community.

The “it” I refer to is the pulse, heartbeat, energy and feel of a community. Sometimes it can be measured, but often it relies more on the senses. I wish it were able to be defined more through objective means, but instead the determination is made more often by subjective leanings.

How do you feel about the community you live in, or if we broaden the question, the region you call home?

What is the “vibe” of your hometown?

Your answer is important given some statistics that crossed my desk this week.

I love statistics and always find them interesting. I believe there always is a story to be told behind the statistics, and it is with that in mind that I decided to use those statistics as the basis of the column you are reading.

The Mackinac Center for Public Policy shared with me Michigan migration statistics by county for the period of 2010 through 2016.

While some regions of the state fared well (Grand Traverse, Charlevoix and Emmet counties for example) others suffered at keeping the residents they had. Every county in the Upper Peninsula except Mackinac, for instance, lost population in that period. And Mackinac County finished at 0 percent, experiencing only a change of five people.

Locally the statistics are a mixed bag, which makes the numbers all the more interesting. Usually when examining statistics like this for the four counties, you see a trend or pattern between each of the counties. This was not the case this time.

Alcona County had the best statistics, showing a growth of 1.8 percent, or a growth of 201 people in that six year period.

Presque Isle County finished second, with a 0.2 percent growth, or 26 people.

Montmorency County came in next with a -0.3 percent growth, having lost 27 people.

Alpena County did not fare well, with the statistics revealing a loss of 1 percent, or minus 285 people.

While it would be nice to understand the logic behind what happened, it would be dangerous to make too many assumptions. Certainly enrollment numbers and trends at Alpena Public Schools adds credence to the Alpena County numbers, for instance, but other districts also have experienced declining enrollments.

While I understand some of that loss occurred from people leaving the county to seek work elsewhere, wasn’t that a universal reality of the region rather than just one county?

Maybe they can be explained away by something as simple as lower housing prices or one county having more available land to build on than another.

And, come to think of it, maybe housing is a good barometer to help explain what is happening.

Currently the Detroit suburbs are experiencing phenomenal real estate growth in a seller’s market that often sees offers being made on listings just days after coming available.

And, surprise, surprise … the two counties that experienced the largest growth in the state during that period were Detroit suburbs. Oakland County added 22,936 people for a 1.9 percent gain and Macomb County added 21,223, or a 2.5 percent gain.

People move for a variety of reasons and perhaps we just need to accept the statistics for what they are — interesting numbers.

As for me, I consider the “vibe” of our community, as well as the region, a pretty positive one.

I think most of you would agree.

Personally, I’ll take waking up to a sunrise over Thunder Bay any day of the week. That’s a statistic that never will change.

Bill Speer can be reached via email at bspeer@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 354-3111 ext. 331. Follow Bill on Twitter @billspeer13.