By Charles Sercombe
Hamtramck is getting a helping hand from the state.
Gov. Rick Snyder came to town last Friday with Lt. Gov. Brian Calley to announce that Hamtramck will be part of his Project Rising Tide.
The program is described by the state as:
“The Rising Tide project supports vibrant, thriving communities to attract business investment and talent by creating a sustainable path toward economic stability and growth.”
Snyder was joined by some of his top administrators and key Hamtramck community leaders at the Polka Dot Café to talk about what the state can offer Hamtramck. Namely, it will be administrative resources.
What it won’t be, Snyder stressed, is the state cutting the city a check.
Snyder said he considers small cities to be the “backbone” of the state, and it’s a matter of: “How can we help you, help yourself?”
One city that “graduated” from the program is River Rouge. The mayor of the city, Michael Bowdler, told those attending that the program requires a lot of work and many, many community meetings.
“Most of the help, you have to do, and it’s hard,” Bowdler said.
As a result of that partnership, Bowdler said River Rouge has been able to attract new businesses and property values have increased 17 percent.
Some of the requests for help included:
More help with upgrading school buildings and the costs to assist special needs students and those who do not speak or read English as a first language (from Tom Niczay, Hamtramck Public Schools Superintendent).
Help with updating the city’s master plan and the city’s infrastructure (from Mayor Karen Majewski).
Figuring out how to deal with the city’s growing pension costs (from City Councilmember Ian Perrotta).
That was one suggestion that Gov. Snyder responded to, since most of the state’s communities are facing the same challenge. Snyder said the key to solving pension obligations is to “grow jobs.”
Hamtramck 31st District Court Judge Alexis Krot, who was appointed to her position by Gov. Snyder, said the key to the city’s future is keeping people here, and making it easier to get permits for housing improvements.
Krot said the task of getting permits is “daunting.”
That seemed to excite Snyder who said that under his administration 2,000 regulations were cut to reduce government red tape.
That process, he said, is something “we can help with.”
The city’s involvement with the state program originated with Acting City Manager Kathy Angerer.
We asked via email what Angerer would like to see from the program, but she did not respond.