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State Legislators Discuss Community & Economic Development Issues with Local Leaders


Event addresses rising demand for services by low-income households.

State Legislators Discuss Community & Economic Development Issues with Local Leaders

Legislative Panel

Five local state legislators representing Washtenaw County participated in a town hall-style discussion of community and economic development issues at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital in Ypsilanti on May 22, 2013.  Representatives Gretchen Driskell (District 52), Jeff Irwin (District 53), David Rutledge (District 54) and Adam Zemke (District 55) joined Senator Rebekah Warren (District 18) on stage to talk about pressing issues and answer questions from an audience comprised of local officials, nonprofit leaders and interested citizens. 

Each legislator spent time highlighting the work they are undertaking in Lansing to advance opportunities for local residents. Sen. Warren highlighted the importance of community and economic development issues, noting that “we have more people (in Washtenaw County) living on less than $2 per day than ever before in history.”

Multiple legislators pointed to Medicaid expansion and nonprofit service delivery as areas where local communities can begin to have an impact on these issues. Ellen Rabinowitz of the Washtenaw Health Plan (WHP) noted that Medicaid expansion would result in 10,000 to 15,000 additional people being eligible for Medicaid in the county. Rep. Rutledge highlighted the success of local nonprofit agencies, saying “nonprofits across this county provide an amazing safety net.” 

The legislative forum was presented by the Washtenaw County Office of Community & Economic Development (OCED), which exists to enhance the vitality of Washtenaw County by developing opportunities for all residents to choose living wage employment, quality housing, stable neighborhoods, and community resources.  OCED’s director Mary Jo Callan summed up the evening with “we are grateful to each of these legislators for taking time out of their extremely demanding schedules to talk about these important issues, and especially for their clear understanding that equity and economic growth are not mutually exclusive trade-offs, but are in fact mutually dependent and supportive concepts to be advanced by the community, and by government at every level.”

If you would like more information about this topic, please contact Mike King at 734-222-3786 or email at


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