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The next steps in Flint's transition back to local control

Michael Finney - As CEO of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, he's the state's chief "economic gardener."
Photo courtesy of Inforummichigan.org and Peplin Photographic (larrypeplin.com)
Michael Finney - As CEO of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, he's the state's chief "economic gardener."

The Flint Receivership Transition Advisory Board has been overseeing Flint since Jerry Ambrose, the city’s last emergency manager, left last April.

The state says the goal of the RTAB is to put the city on a path toward good financial health and return full control back to the city government.

So where does the process of returning power to the city’s elected leadership stand?

Michael Finney, the former head of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and current president and CEO of Community Ventures Resources, is on the Flint RTAB and says much of the heavy lifting has been done.

“The major steps have been taken, and that was the installation of an emergency manger and then getting the city to a point where it’s in a position to actually transition back,” said Finney, who is a Flint native. “That means the finances have gotten a lot better, a lot of the costs that were causing the city to fall into the financial condition it was in have been addressed through that process.”

Finney says the process of transitioning financial control back to the city of Flint took a big step forward at the last RTAB meeting where the responsibility of hiring senior leadership was returned to Mayor Karen Weaver.

However, Finney says the RTAB will still play a role to ensure “that all positions are properly credentialed.”

The influence of the Flint water crisis

The process of appointing emergency managers to struggling cities, like Flint, has received widespread criticism in the wake of the Flint water crisis. But according to Finney, that hasn’t put any additional pressure on RTAB to accelerate their plan to relinquish control back to the city.

With national and worldwide attention being focused on Flint, Finney believes now would be an ideal opportunity to make progress in bringing new investment and jobs to the city.

“There’s got to be an economic impact analysis done, and that economic analysis should include a look forward in terms of what other kinds of opportunities we should be trying to bring to Flint,” said Finney. “So that way … we’ll have a good idea of the kinds of opportunities that exist for Flint.”

Flint has always been a manufacturing city, and with cars selling at record numbers, he says there could be some opportunities for the auto industry to play a role in the recovery.

In addition, he says, there is a strong community presence from institutions like Michigan State University, the University of Michigan and Mott Community College and the potential for non-traditional and technological businesses.

Listen to the full interview to hear more about the transition, as well as how Finney believes Flint’s recovery is starting to mirror the recovery in Detroit.

Josh Hakala, a lifelong Michigander (East Lansing & Edwardsburg), comes to Michigan Radio after nearly two decades of working in a variety of fields within broadcasting and digital media.
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