Director of State Office of Urban Affairs to speak Monday in Kalamazoo

Jan 18, 2013

Harvey Hollins III grew up in Southwest Michigan but has spent the last decade working in Detroit. In 2011, Governor Snyder named Hollins director of the Michigan Office of Urban and Metropolitan Affairs. On Monday, Hollins, a Kalamazoo College graduate, will speak at Stetson Chapel as part of the Martin Luther King Junior Convocation. The event begins at 10:50 Monday morning, and is one of the events planned in Kalamazoo to honor the late civil rights leader

Martin Luther King Jr. speaking at WMU in 1963
Credit Western Michigan University

The state office or Urban and Metropolitan Affairs is based in Detroit, there are currently satellite offices in Grand Rapids and Flint. A third is scheduled to open in February in Kalamazoo. Hollins says the satellite offices provide a direct relationship to the governor’s office, and provide feedback about what cities need. He says the office in Kalamazoo will also serve Benton Harbor and Battle Creek.

Governor Snyder called for a large infrastructure improvement plan in his “State of the State” address on Wednesday. Hollins says while the entire state needs better roads and bridges, it’s an especially critical issue for cities. Hollins says the state has other initiatives designed to help cities, including removing blighted buildings, which he says become hot spots for crime. He says the state is also working to create an environment around schools that can help residential growth. 

Hollins was born in South Haven and grew up in the Kalamazoo area, graduating from Otsego High School before attending Kalamazoo College. Hollins says there are different perspectives on each side of the state. He says the viewpoint toward Detroit on the west side of state is not always positive, But Hollins says cities within the state shouldn’t be battling each other. He says Michigan needs to compete with neighboring states for jobs and investment. Hollins says a strong Detroit would help the state and Detroit would be helped if there are other strong cities in the state. Hollins says he wants to take ideas in one part of the state, such as ArtPrize in Grand Rapids or the Kalamazoo Promise and bring them to other cities in Michigan.

Hollins says there are two major and related anniversaries this year, the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s “I have a Dream” speech and the 150th anniversary of the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation by President Abraham Lincoln. Hollins says both King and Lincoln were trying to unite people. He says institutional problems are not as tangible today, but divisions still exist. Hollins says those include the east and west side of the state. He hopes that Michigan can overcome those division and become stronger.