The Summit

The economic stimulus package recently passed represents both the current economic crisis and an incredible opportunity for re-thinking the way federal dollars are spent.  Unfortunately, many of these dollars will follow existing pathways in an effort to quickly stimulate the economy.  There is a risk that cities that have always been more successful at obtaining federal dollars will be more successful now; and the cities that have been neglected will remain so.

The ARRA and the 2010 federal budget may represent sea changes in federal priorities and the opportunities available for federal assistance in the revitalization of older cities.  The older industrial cities of the Great Lakes mega-region must examine these changing trends and the opportunities that they represent, and to further develop a collective voice and approach for harnessing and directing them for older industrial cities.

A future stimulus package and future federal budgets should incorporate the lessons of this first package.  The conveners of the Great Lakes Metros and the New Opportunity Summit seek to provide an opportunity for practitioners to share with legislators  feedback about how it has been implemented on the ground.  Participants will help answer questions like: What are the challenges to using ARRA money to support long-term goals?  What structures or elements of ARRA actually constrained, rather than supported, the development of innovative solutions to urban challenges?  Which elements were successful but could be enhanced?

The Great Lakes Metros and the New Opportunity Summit is for practitioners–including NGOs, local officials, urban advocates, agency heads and their deputies–in Great Lakes urban communities who seek to use the stimulus bill, future allocations, and other federal support to promote sustainable and equitable cities.

Participants will hear from government officials and researchers, but the primary focus will be knowledge sharing among those working in neighborhoods to implement meaningful change.  Sessions are being designed to provide both topical overviews and opportunities for more in depth exploration.  Whether investigating new opportunities or scaling up existing programs, attendees will gain a birds-eye-view of trends in their field; will learn best practice strategies for ensuring maximum impact for chronically challenged older industrial cities and neighborhoods; and will explore the opportunities to influence the direction of future federal support.

The Summit aims to provide both a vision and framework for the long-term sustainable revitalization that has eluded the region for too long.

The Summit will be held in Buffalo, NY on June 18-19, 2009.  Session topics have been chosen in areas in areas where federal funding priorities generally appear to be changing–or where a unified voice from our cities could demand necessary change.

The conference will take place over two full days and 150-200 participants are expected.  Four-five plenary sessions and multiple breakouts, which focus on education and empowerment, will (1) facilitate best-practice sharing, (2) identify new or expected federal funding streams, and (3) empower participants to weigh in on the shape of future federal programs.



  1. I am interested in attending the summit. Can you send me more information?

  2. I would encourage conference organizers to include in the agenda for this conference opportunities for participants, policymakers, nonprofit community leaders, and sustainable business leaders to discuss and envision the new kinds of participatory and collaborative policy frameworks that need to be created in order to make possible many of the goals of this Summit.

    Especially in our Great Lakes Metro cities, we need to envision and create more innovative structures for participatory policymaking that allow our so-called “rust-belt” cities to become leaders of a more inclusive (and therefore environmentally just) sustainable development movement for the 21st century.


    Shawn D. Kimmel
    Detroit Center for Community-driven Policymaking
    –Strengthening community power to drive sustainable policymaking

    Without effective community organizing as a foundation, there can be neither strong
    communities nor good policymaking.

  3. Open Space Technology or Appreciative Inquiry with David Cooperrider from Weatherhead Case Western would be useful to cover in the programming. Dr Cooperrider is the originator of this wonderful process used around the world to create change, and he lives in the Great Lakes Region. Appreciative Inquiry has been successfully used in India, Nepal and Africa to create new economic development at the grassroots level and community organizing to transform distressed communities. Photovoice is also a powerful process to teach as a tool for data gathering and discovery for policy making. Photovoice has been used successfully in Flint MI and other communities.

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