The Genesee Regional Chamber of Commerce has been selected to lead a county wide Service Center that will serve as a center of excellence that builds efficiency, effectiveness and customer satisfaction through shared public service delivery.

At the request of the Regional Leadership Council, a board comprised of 45 businesses, educational institutions and donors, the Regional Chamber has agreed to provide leadership and resources for the new county initiative. The shared services organization includes a service center and leadership academy to be housed at the Regional Chamber.

During a press conference Thursday, community leaders gathered to reveal the community report and recommendations resulting from Future Genesee, as well as announce Phase II of the project designed to find efficiencies in sharing services across municipalities to increase customer satisfaction, improve quality of life and ease budget challenges across the region.

Earlier this year, the Future Genesee 60-day envisioning process brought together leaders from the business community, government and the community at large to address cooperative and collaborative ways the region could benefit from sharing services in line with the State of Michigan’s economic viability plan. The outcome of Future Genesee is a plan to create a sustainable process and foundation to facilitate shared services and recommendations for implementation.

John Cherry, former Lieutenant Governor and Chair of Future Genesee says the recommendations resulting from the envisioning effort provide an opportunity for local governments to share and restructure public services to provide the greatest community benefit.

“In meeting with local municipal leaders we have identified areas that make sense for communities to share across boundaries,” said Cherry. “Through the insight gained during Phase I, where local leaders shared success stories and lessons learned, we gained valuable knowledge that enables us to move on to Phase II. Now we can build on those successes. It is exciting to keep this effort moving with the Regional Chamber at the helm.”

To initiate Phase II of the plan, which includes the facilitation of shared services among municipalities in the region, the Regional Chamber will serve as the lead organization and provide staffing, expertise and strategic partnerships for collaborative efforts in the region.

According to Tim Herman, CEO of the Regional Chamber taking the lead on the Service Center is in line with the Chamber’s goal of fostering economic growth in the region.

“The shared services Initiative is designed to create economic efficiencies that make this region more competitive,” said Herman. “We are pleased to play a role in moving the initiative forward and expect that this effort will increase the region’s competitiveness for jobs and resources as we restructure government through collaboration.”

To position Genesee County as a key participant in the New Economy, Future Genesee made the following recommendations:

Create a purchasing network – The purchasing service sharing network will help municipalities obtain the best products and services at the lowest possible prices.

Develop a County wide Taxation System – A county wide administration of taxation services will achieve significant efficiencies through assisting with tax assessment uniformity, providing one-stop services for businesses, promoting the rapid distribution of collections and ensuring agile compliance with changing state regulations.

Create an Integrated Genesee County Master Plan – A five-year master plan should be developed for Genesee County through the integration of existing plans produced by local units of government. The consolidated plan would be updated through an ongoing consortium.

Develop Shared Information Technology – The creation of a shared telecommunications system for local units of government will allow those governments to share information and interconnected services to improve service.

Promote Parks Collaborative – The strategic promotion of all parks in the region through the Genesee County Parks Commission to ensure residents are aware of local assets and economic development benefits can be gained through collaborative marketing.

Develop a County wide Detective Bureau – The development of a county wide detective bureau through the Police Chief’s Association to create efficiencies across jurisdictional lines.

Develop a County wide Fire Authority – The development of a county wide fire authority to own and maintain capital equipment, such as ladder trucks and to continue already existing multi-jurisdictional authorities is recommended through the Fire Chief’s Association.

Continue work through the Greater Flint Health Coalition (GFHC) – The continuation of the GFHC as the lead collaborator on health issues in the region.

In addition to the nine recommendations, a Leadership Academy to create a talent bank of leader advocates, youth ambassadors, as well as shared services education and training will be developed.

George Wilkinson, Director of Operations and Shared Services for the Regional Chamber says shared services will benefit both the public sector and the business community. “We are setting the stage through our Service Center, which includes the Leadership Academy and Solutions Center to create jobs and grow our local economy,” said Wilkinson. “Utilizing common processes, policies and procedures will make it easier to do business in Genesee County.”