Survey results show we must involve our youth

A huge word of gratitude to the Thunder Bay Arts Council, Tim Kuehnlein and his students at Alpena Community College, the Sunset Project, and Mary Ellen Jones for their work on the Northeast Michigan Community Impact Survey and report. I recently participated in a conversation discussing the report’s results with fellow community members, which was truly engaging and inspiring.

I was delighted to hear that government officials and other stakeholders were given access to the report, although there were some notable absences in the session I attended. I sincerely hope that those guiding Alpena’s economic development and long-term planning take the insights from this data seriously.

The survey clearly shows that residents are eager for more green spaces, arts, music, and diversity, along with a desire to support local businesses and foster organic economic growth. There’s a strong sentiment against big-box stores and chains that may drain resources and profits from our community.

One significant takeaway for me was the feeling of undervaluation among younger members of our community. The challenges they face, such as unaffordable housing, limited job opportunities, and a dismissive attitude toward their ideas, are concerning. One community member emphasized the importance of involving individuals under 25 in local boards and committees, a sentiment I wholeheartedly endorse.

Our younger generation is rightfully concerned about Alpena’s future, and we should all share in that concern. Ignoring reports like this one and the housing study conducted by the Housing Task Force could hinder our community’s growth and prosperity.

It’s crucial for our county to embrace modern, forward-thinking approaches to economic and social development to ensure Alpena thrives for generations to come.




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