By Doug Luciani
---- — The Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce supports the Nov. 6 bond millage proposal sought by Traverse City Area Public Schools. We endorse these necessary and in many cases long-overdue upgrades to give our region's young people the facilities, technology and safety to best prepare them for an ever-changing and uncertain global economy.
The TCAPS bond millage comes at a critical time as the region looks to build on the momentum of our burgeoning tourism industry, the growing agriculture economy, our advanced health care sector and a vast array of service providers and small businesses.
A strong public education system serves as a cornerstone of a growing local economy. It helps the region attract and maintain a talented workforce. Good schools are a critical component to the community's portfolio to help draw new companies and ventures to our area. They help attract young families needed to keep our community vibrant. They are as important as our Great Lakes and other natural resources in making this area such a great place to live.
We also count on our schools to produce the region's next generation of workers, and civic and business leaders. Every school district including TCAPS needs — and the area deserves — optimum facilities and technology to help it produce graduates best equipped to pursue their careers.
The Grand Traverse region differs from other parts of Michigan in terms of how we get things done. We don't have the luxury of major corporations like Dow in Midland or the Big Three automakers helping underwrite major public facilities. Large private benefactors aren't writing big checks for local causes like in Grand Rapids.
Our way is individuals and businesses coming together to take on bold initiatives, to create an organic approach to building our community. We look to our institutions — our college, service clubs, churches and schools — to act as conveners and to implement our grand ideas and economic game-changers. We wear our "rural" label with chest-swelling pride, but we aren't willing to settle for less than world-class facilities and programs. But if the community doesn't support the bond proposal, the buckets collecting rainwater will remain in places like the center hall at Eastern Elementary School.
Our state and regional economy have indeed endured a trying decade. Local conditions are improving, with dropping unemployment rates, stabilizing property values and rising home sales. There's still work to be done, but what we do now helps us control our destiny as a region.
Waiting until "all is well" with the state and national economies will do little other than entrench our region and its young people in the middle of the pack.
That's not the Traverse City way, and it's not the Northern Michigan way. Please support the bond millage to help us develop modern facilities with the technology that our community can be proud of and help our children compete in the global economy.
About the author: Doug Luciani is President and CEO of the Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce.
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