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Southwest Michigan Sustainability Committee

In 2014 the Southwest Michigan Planning Commission (SWMPC) Board approved the creation of the Southwest Michigan Sustainability Committee.  The original idea for the committee was proposed by the Michigan's Great Southwest Sustainable Business Forum (MGSSBF) to advance efforts/ideas of sustainability in government. 


The basic goal of this committee is to advance sustainability efforts at the municipal and regional level and to bring sustainability processes to the fore-front of decision makers and help give them guidance and resources to make decisions that have lasting positive impact. 


Examples of municipal sustainability activities may include waste management, curbside recycling programs, complete green streets, walkable communities, energy efficiency and conservation, renewable energy, supporting local foods and agriculture, green building, affordable housing, reducing greenhouse gases, green zones, natural resource and water protection, green jobs, etc.


The committee will serve as a forum for education and networking and will help to coordinate sustainability activities/efforts across the municipalities in the tri-county area (Berrien, Cass and Van Buren Counties). It is proposed that this committee would present their progress at SWMPC's quarterly board meetings.


This committee will play a role in helping SWMPC and local governments to develop and implement policies and practices that better integrate housing, transportation, employment, workforce development, environmental and infrastructure investments in the region.


The Committee will help to implement a regional vision for sustainability where economic, environmental, and social systems are in balance to create and sustain a positive quality of life for current and future generations.


The Committee will encourage multi-stakeholder collaboration, sharing of experiences and common aspirations, and mobilizing local resources. 


The committee strives to help transform the region through the development of sustainable neighborhoods and communities by:

-          Preserving environmental integrity

-          Increasing economic prosperity

-          Advancing and achieving social equity

-          Improving the quality of life and elevating the value of education


Why?  The International City/County Management Association (ICMA) identifies "building sustainable communities as a core responsibility of local government." Likewise, ICMA asserts that local governments should use performance data for establishing goals and outcomes in budget decisions, setting targets of performance, learning from other jurisdictions, and making improvements to government finances.  Benefits of communities becoming more sustainable include:

  • People (especially young, talent) want to live in communities that have a stewardship and sustainability ethic.
  • A higher quality of life and increased value in education will attract and retain young talent and also will allow people to age and thrive in place.
  • Synergy between government units will grow by learning, exploring and adopting ideas from other municipalities in Michigan and beyond.
  • Suppliers and other costs can be leveraged and government needs can be connected to local businesses and vice versa.
  • Community image improves in areas of health, attractiveness, tax dollars, young people, natural resources and the natural beauty of this area.


Committee Members


Meetings of the Committee

Agenda - April 29, 2014 (First Meeting)


April 2014 Meeting Minutes and Summary


Southwest Michigan Sustainability Committee Presentation from SWMPC


Presentation from Norman Christopher the Director of Sustainable Community Development Initiative GVSU April 2014

This page last updated on 11/20/2015.
Southwest Michigan Planning Commission  
376 West Main Street  Suite 130  Benton Harbor, MI 49022-3651
Phone: 269.925.1137  Fax: 269.925.0288  

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