Ann Arbor DDA Looks to the Future - Make Your Voice Heard
Many of you are aware of the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority (DDA), but it's likely not often you get a sense of the people and the passions that help make it tick. As a result, I thought I would begin my contributing stint to AnnArbor.com by introducing myself and invite you to introduce yourself in return.
My name is Amber Miller. I have worked at the DDA for two years now, most of that time as an intern while I worked toward my Masters in Urban Planning at U of M. I am a life-long Michigander and extremely passionate about the State of Michigan and Ann Arbor's role in its turn around. I have not yet reached the age of thirty and fit into that "Millennial" generation, but am bucking some of the trends - my husband and I will welcome our first child in June and no, we don't plan on moving to the suburbs as a result.
Last week, I attended Concentrate's first Speaker Series "Downtown Development - a Generational Divide." Featured Speaker, Dan Gilmartin, executive director of the Michigan Municipal League, had some motivating and very timely things to say. He emphasized the importance of attracting the mobile millennials, they bring with them brains, entrepreneurialism, and as a result - jobs. Creating interesting cities to pull in these young professionals is more important now than ever, and it's something Michigan doesn't do well enough. He stressed to the audience that Ann Arbor has an important role to play here, offering many amenities and activities that draw in young talent, but we have to do more. The need to do more is why I became a planner. I found myself attracted to hip and vibrant cities, like Portland, Oregon and Austin, Texas. But, I realized pretty quickly that I didn't want to simply move to an exciting city, I wanted to help create and nurture them here in Michigan. This same desire also led me to the Ann Arbor DDA. The City of Ann Arbor has many of those amenities my husband and I value and the unique potential to compete nationally with the Portlands and Austins. I found kindred spirits with those here at the DDA - who work avidly to create the kind of downtown that can both meet the needs of current residents and attract those powerhouse young professionals.
I am glad to see that others, like annarbor.com contributor Sarah Smallwood, were inspired by Dan Gilmartin as well. I'd like to hear from more inspired voices - it isn't often enough your positive sentiments rise above the negative and discouraged voices that are so pervasive in tough economic times. So, I invite you to take a moment to introduce yourself and answer some questions for me.
How do we as a community begin to look at the big picture and the role Ann Arbor can play in Michigan's turn around?
How does the DDA reach those who see the potential in Ann Arbor's future? We'd like to see you at our meetings, hear from you in an email or comment post - please, share your vision.
To continue sharing your thoughts, insights, or simply say hello - please submit feedback on www.a2dda.org, visit our facebook page www.facebook.com/a2dda, or send me an email. I look forward to hearing from you.