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Published: Tuesday, 3/30/2004

Strategic planner to offer expertise

BY TOM TROY
BLADE STAFF WRITER

A group of five local economic development organizations will host the third in a series of "vision" conferences tomorrow, and the focus this time will be on the need for regional coordination.

Michael Gallis, a strategic planner based in Charlotte, N.C., will give the keynote address.

More than 160 people have said they will attend the conference in the Wyndham Hotel.

The morning-long meeting is being coordinated by Downtown Toledo., Inc., and co-sponsored by the Regional Growth Partnership, the Toledo Metropolitan Area Council of Governments, the Toledo-Area Chamber of Commerce, and the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority.

Michael Gallis and Associates was formed in 1988. Its expertise is in "large-scale metropolitan regional development strategies."

In an interview, Mr. Gallis said he works with clients to establish a framework for cooperation among public, private, and institutional leaders. He said he will address how regions have emerged as the basic unit of competition in the global marketplace.

He said regions must determine their true niche, rather than follow a formula that has worked for some other city or region.

"People get into this mode of 'give me a solution, give me a plan.' They grab the anchor rather than the life raft and down they go. Money's precious. We can't just throw it at any goofy thing that comes along," Mr. Gallis said.

The company's Web site identifies 55 clients, including the West Michigan Strategic Alliance, comprising Grand Rapids, Muskegon, Grand Haven, and Holland. It was created in 2002.

Tomorrow's meeting follows two conferences sponsored by Downtown Toledo, Inc., in July and November, under the heading of "One City, One Future." Those meetings were smaller, with about 40 attendees.

The invitation for tomorrow's event was sent to about 2,000 people and was signed by the chairmen of the five organizations.

"Our region has the potential to be a destination for investment and tourism that is second to none," it says. The invitation identifies Mr. Gallis as "the country's leading expert in metropolitan regional development strategies."

Efforts to regionalize are already under way on several fronts. They include a $132,000 study of local economic development efforts by the city of Toledo, Lucas County, the port authority, and the Regional Growth Partnership. In addition, Toledo Mayor Jack Ford is studying formation of a metropolitan government.

Mr. Gallis was an associate professor of architecture and planning at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte from 1974 to 1997. He has a bachelor's degree in architecture from the University of California, Berkeley, and master's degrees in architecture and city planning from the University of Pennsylvania.

Contact Tom Troy at:

tomtroy@theblade.com

or 419 724-6058.



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