CNS budget Jan. 13, 2022, Small Cities special package

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Jan. 13, 2022, CNS Budget – Small Cities special package

To: CNS Editors

From: Eric Freedman and David Poulson

For technical problems, contact CNS technical manager Eryn Ho at (616) 485-9295,

For other matters, contact Dave Poulson at (517) 899-1640; or Eric Freedman at (517) 256-3873;

NOTE TO EDITORS: The 1st regular file of the spring 2022 semester will come on Friday, Jan. 21. 

EDITORS: A recent WalletHub study evaluated the quality of 1,322 U.S. small cities. This package of four stories looks at some of those criteria as they relate to the 39 Michigan cities in the study. These stories were reported and written by advanced reporting students at the MSU School of Journalism. Each story can stand alone, but you may want to run them as a series.

To localize, you may wish to use this chart to look at data for other small cities in your circulation area. The second column ranks the best 39 Michigan small cities – those between 25,000 and 100,000 people – based on all factors weighed by WalletHub’s national study. The subsequent columns show their rank solely on that column’s measure. 

w/SMALL CITIES LOGO: Credit: Asher Freedman


SMALL CITIES SAFETY: Oakland County is home to some of Michigan’s safest small cities – Rochester Hills, Royal Oak, Novi, Farmington Hills and Troy — and also one of its least-safe, Pontiac. Others in the least-safe category are Saginaw, Kalamazoo, Jackson and Battle Creek. We talk to police and other officials in Royal Oak and Pontiac, to a middle school student from Royal Oak and the Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police. By Riz Hatton, Elaine Mallon & Sheldon Krause. FOR DETROIT and ALL POINTS.

w/SMALL CITIES SAFETY PHOTO: Royal Oak police patrol the city’s downtown. Credit: Sheldon Krause.

SMALL CITIES ECONOMIC HEALTH: Flint ranks at the bottom of Michigan’s small cities when it comes to economic health, buffeted by the pull-out of GM and other factors. The mayor and economic development director say there’s been progress and improvement and are pushing new ideas to boost the city’s status. Troy ranks #1, thanks in part to quality public schools and a diverse population. We also hear from an MSU economist, small business owners in Flint and residents in Troy and Flint. By Dina Kaur, Maggie Livingston & Caroline Miller. FOR DETROIT, CORP!, GRAND RAPIDS BUSINESS and ALL POINTS.

w/ MUNICIPAL CENTER PHOTO: Flint Municipal Center. Credit: Dina Kaur

w/COFFEE SHOP PHOTO: Café Rhema in downtown Flint. Credit: Dina Kaur

w/BUILDING PHOTO: An abandoned building in Flint. Credit: Dina Kaur

w/HAT PHOTO: The Mad Hatter clothing store has been in Flint since 1983. Credit: Dina Kaur

SMALL CITIES QUALITY OF LIFE: Holland, Kalamazoo, Flint, Muskegon and Saginaw ranked in the top five small Michigan cities for quality of life measure, while Holt, Eastpointe, St. Clair Shores, Lincoln Park and Garden City were at the bottom. We focus on why Holland ranks so high, with its Lake Michigan locale, cultural and tourist attractions and improving diversity, although leaders acknowledge the need for more inclusion and diversity. The mayor, city manager, Tulip Time Festival executive director, a restaurant owner, a resident transplanted from Brighton and MSU’s Institute for Public Policy and Social Research explain. By Anastasi Pirrami, Chloe Trofatter and Chloe West. FOR HOLLAND, WKTV, GRAND RAPIDS BUSINESS and ALL POINTS.

w/QUALITY OF LIFE BLOCKS PHOTO: Holland Mayor Nathan Blocks. Credit: Chloe Trofatter

w/QUALITY OF LIFE WALKABILITY PHOTO: Walkability is among the measures used to rank the quality of life in small cities. Credit: Chloe Trofatter 

w/QUALITY OF LIFE PARK PHOTO: Centennial Park in Holland’s downtown district. Credit: Chloe Trofatter 

w/QUALITY OF LIFE DOWNTOWN PHOTO: Downtown Holland. Credit: Chloe Trofatter

SMALL CITIES AFFORDABILITY: Holt and Southfield are at virtual opposite points in affordability among 39 Michigan cities, a new study says. Factors include house prices, property tax rates and systemic racism. The top five in affordability are Livonia, Troy, Allen Park, Holt and Rochester Hills. The bottom five are East Lansing, Pontiac, Flint, Saginaw and Southfield. We hear from real estate experts, residents, a Paw Paw-based MSU Extension educator and an MSU expert. By Ann Traver, Payton Wells & Hope O’Dell. FOR FOWLERVILLE, LANSING CITY PULSE, DETROIT, GRAND RAPIDS BUSINESS, CORP! and ALL POINTS.

w/AFFORDABILITY HOUSE PHOTO w/AFFORDABILITY HOUSE PHOTO: A house for sale in Holt. The community 8 miles south of Lansing is rated as most affordable in a recent study of Michigan small cities. Credit: Payton Wells


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