REGIS Tremendous Impact Without Peer

    Today, 20 local governmental units took part in a cooperative effort so strategic it puts the State of Michigan on the national map and marks entire Grand Rapids Statistical Area as the only community in the state to employ the service. That readers have not heard or seen news of its advent, save in Grand Rapids Business Journal, is testament to how little the general media understands the nature of technology and its impact on communities.

    The REGIS system is a project which compiles layers of data from all of Kent and part of Ottawa counties, to provide land use information, public safety reports, public documents, tax assessments and a multitude of geographic data for 900 square miles of West Michigan. Information is provided on every water and sewer line (including its age), school districts, zoning and master planning.

    The degree of difficulty in this type of governmental cooperation and cataloging is measured by the fact that it has taken almost 12 years, no insincere effort on the patient members of Grand Valley Metropolitan Council which took responsibility for this enormous task. The information contained in the system is so vast it is impossible to list each of its features or possible uses. The REGIS Web site address is  — where readers may take a tour.

    Certainly this accomplishment can be noted by Gov. John Engler, who just last Friday spent an hour with Michigan editors, outlining the state’s initiative for broadband connections and its importance. Engler’s very serious goal of wiring the state and providing universal access has been a more than two-year effort assigned to Michigan Economic Development Corp. President and CEO Doug Rothwell.

    That effort is certainly the competitive advantage for this state in new business attraction, and retention. And business is the push for such connectivity because it provides “big company” connectivity with applications such as video mail, conferencing and training.

    Rothwell’s effort to create clustered “smart zones” in overlapping governmental areas also provides that new or expanding technology businesses will be clustered — and served around the state as broadband capabilities expand. Rothwell also has responsibility for transforming Michigan’s telecommunications infrastructure “into one of the most advanced in the nation” as part of the LinkMichigan initiative. Grand Rapids, Muskegon and Kalamazoo all have designated SmartZones; the emphasis in Grand Rapids specifically targets biosciences and biotechnology and research and educational institutions.

    The REGIS project, among many other technology initiatives, demonstrates that this community is dedicated to, able and preparing to take part in new economic initiatives. The information businesses need or community members want is available at the touch of the keyboard.

    Congratulations to all 20 member governmental units patiently putting their act together in true service to the community. We love it when a plan comes together.           

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