Jim Townsend

Former Representative

Royal Oak, MI

Pro-Growth Progressive Idea: Leading smart growth regional cooperation to reinvest in older developed communities

Jim Townsend is committed to standing up for working people and small businesses to help them create jobs and turn our economy around. He is working to create a climate of innovation where entrepreneurs can thrive, take root in our community and invest in Michigan.

Prior to joining the Michigan House of Representatives, Jim led national marketing and sales for Ford Motor Company’s $4 billion minivan business, after which he founded his own consulting business that specializes in helping companies and other organizations grow and create jobs.

Jim served as the executive director of the Tourism Economic Development Council, where he guided a 10-year strategy for increasing Southeast Michigan’s tourism economy by $3 billion per year. He also founded and directed the Michigan Suburbs Alliance, a nonprofit organization devoted to revitalizing and reinventing developed communities.

Pro-Growth Progressive Ideas Shared

Problem

The general lack of public confidence in government's ability to make wise investment decisions in transportation leads to underinvestment in such projects, reducing the city’s economic competitiveness and potential for growth.

Solution

Rep. Townsend has introduced legislation to create outcome measures for transportation infrastructure investments that require the Department of Transportation and local agencies to show that their spending plans will generate an economic and fiscal return for the taxpayer and the economy. This matters for everyone because one of America's greatest deficits is our failure to invest in infrastructure and the only way we will create the political will to do so is to show citizens that government is making wise investments.


Problem

As in most states, the current system for how land is taxed in Michigan does not encourage investment in unused properties. This lack of investment, especially in struggling urban and rural areas, hurts the economy by hindering opportunities for growth and property development.

Solution

Representative Townsend supports legislation to allow cities to implement land value taxation, which would place the property tax burden on the actual land and not the buildings or improvements. This incentivizes a property owner to develop property in order to balance the tax burden and encourages private investment through rewards for those who invest in their property. This method is a market-driven way to encourage investment in struggling communities and to reuse existing assets rather than promote urban sprawl.


Problem

Michigan is struggling to find resources to fix its crumbling roads and public support for spending more money on transportation infrastructure is dwindling unless government can show that these projects are sustainable.

Solution

Rep. Townsend has proposed legislation this year to require that any jurisdiction seeking to use state or federal money to build new road capacity must show that its existing roads are in at least "good" or "fair" condition, as defined by state's Asset Management Council. This policy forces state and local road agencies to be accountable for the condition of their roads before they seek to add to the system, rebuilding faith in government to improve economic outcomes for all.


Problem

For more than a generation, America has struggled to improve our public schools--especially in our poorest areas. This hurts all of us, because our country’s economic competitiveness depends on our ability to out-educate the rest of the world.

Solution

Representative Townsend wants to improve public schools by elevating the profession of teaching with a State Bar of Teaching patterned after the professional associations that govern the learned professions of law and medicine. Studies show that countries with the highest performing students have one thing in common: more of their best and brightest students want to become teachers. A professional association would attract better students to teaching jobs by giving them the autonomy, accountability, and tools to become excellent teachers.