Jackson:  A Prime Location to Build a Life Around What Matters Most
by Mark Olson

Imagine the benefits if we committed to slowing down long enough to identify what matters the most to us in this lifetime.  

While we are all different, there is a high probability that thoughts related to faith, family and friends would rise to the surface.

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has surveyed 100,000 people around the globe since 2011 and asked, “What matters most?”  Significant responses in the developed world emphasized health and work / life balance.   

The Full Frame Initiative is a social change organization that also provides perspectives on what matters most.  Two important elements they highlight are social connectedness and meaningful access to relevant resources.  

Those inputs provide the following cross section of what many of us might include on our list of what matters most.

  • Faith
  • Family 
  • Friends
  • Health
  • Work / life balance
  • Social connectedness
  • Meaningful access to relevant resources

When all these factors are considered, I hope there is a dawning awareness that Jackson County, Michigan, provides a prime location for building a life around what matters most.  The combination of qualities we find here in Jackson County are rare and significant:

  • Uncongested– Did you ever consider putting a value on the daily time you save just getting around Jackson versus any major city?
  • Natural beauty– You can drive two miles to the country and find abundant trees, water and farmland.  Did you know that Jackson County sits on one of the largest aquifers in North America and that there are 133 lakes and 200 miles of river waterways inside our county?  These are ideal places to rise above the urgent and focus on the important!  
  • Diverse faith communities–  There are 162 different congregations ministering throughout the county.
  • Low cost of living– According to demographic expert Bert Sperling’s Best Places database, our total cost of living index is 16% lower than the Michigan average and 26% lower than the national average.  Our median home costs are less than 50% of the national average!
  • Growing business community–  In January, Crain’s Communications featured thriving businesses and highlighted Jackson based Commonwealth Associates, Peak Manufacturing Local Logic Media and TransPharm Preclinical Solutions.
  • Assorted recreational opportunities–  Something for everyone! Did you know that Golf Digest ranked Jackson as the fourth-best area to play golf in the nation? 
  • Ample learning opportunities–  To enhance learning at every stage of life our county has a wide range of excellent public and private educational institutions, including two colleges and one university.
  • Innovative community health– We are fortunate to be served by Henry Ford Allegiance Health and it’s continually advancing capabilities.  Did you know that Allegiance Health founded the Health Improvement Organization (HIO) that connects 30 local agencies in championing a culture of health in our community?  These pioneering efforts are receiving national attention. 

Jackson County also excels in the “meaningful access to relevant resources” category:

  • 45 minutes to all the retail, restaurant, academic and athletic options in Ann Arbor and Lansing.
  • 60 minutes to one of the finest airport terminals in the country with nonstop links to major cities and destinations around the world.
  • 1.3 hours to all the urban, cultural, marine and sporting opportunities in Detroit.
  • 1.8 hours to Lake Michigan.
  • 3.3 hours to Chicago, the nation’s 3rdlargest city.

We would be wise to pause in gratitude and recommit ourselves to leveraging these often-overlooked benefits.  Jackson County is a prime location to build a life around what matters most.

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