I was the Assistant Director of Community Development and Planning when the Crane Associates team was hired to complete a River Recreation Feasibility Study. The objective of the study was to identify feasible on-river recreation uses, select a preferred option that would allow the community to realize the full benefit of the river, attract visitors, increase the vibrancy of downtown, and improve the quality of life for Cedar Rapids residents. A concept plan was also needed to engage the community, elected officials, and the local paddling group. Michael and Crane Associates exceeded my expectations. Michael used an inclusive planning process that engaged the general public and the paddling community, provided detailed economic impact information important for gaining support from elected officials and the downtown business community, and a concept plan. The concept plan was supported by topographic, hydraulic, and hydrologic data collected by the Crane Associates Team. Michael worked well with the public and understands what is necessary to gain support from elected officials. The Feasibility Study was a success and was imperative to moving the community towards the next step.
The Upper Delaware Council presented Michael Crane with a three decades-old dilemma to diagnose the source of our unique organization’s ‘operational dissonance’ and provide sustainability recommendations to offset an imminent future of financial starvation. The project was condensed into an accelerated six-month period to accommodate a grant deadline and conducted during a pandemic. A seemingly straight-forward scope of work turned out to be more convoluted than we or Michael anticipated when he took on this challenge. The dedication of his time, depth of his research, and ability to synthesize the vast number of documents we threw at him was impressive. His questions were insightful and his calculations were invaluable to provide us with an objective, useful analysis. He went above and beyond to travel to our NY-PA river valley region when our limited budget only allowed for remote work because he was personally invested in the outcome. He has also offered to assist us with implementation of actions beyond his contract’s end. We felt fortunate that we were somehow able to attract his international expertise in the socioeconomics of rivers to apply to our study. The resulting report is stimulating creative thinking toward attaining greater organizational self-sufficiency.
I recently retired from the Iraq Ministry of Municipalities and Public Works as the Deputy Minister for Administrative affairs. I was second in command of one of Iraq’s largest Ministries (56,000 employees) and the lead person responsible for restructuring our Ministry to become more efficient, customer oriented, and accountable. To meet this goal we hired a Team of United Nations consultants led by Michael Crane. For nearly one year I observed Michael’s work ethic and leadership skills through his monthly reports to me and by the way he coordinated our monthly Strategic Planning meetings of the Ministerial Advisory Committee, which I chaired. Michael’s challenge was overwhelming at times. Nonetheless, I observed him successfully complete tasks that veteran diplomats from many countries couldn’t do; that was to get Iraqis from diverse backgrounds and regions to sit in the same room and agree to a plan. I know he worked tirelessly behind the scenes. He was persistent and patient in overcoming every obstacle. Michael was involved at all levels of the project; he worked one-on-one with junior bureaucrats to understand the existing administration, he conducted stakeholder analyses and workshops with middle managers, and he made high-level presentations to senior government officials. Through all of this, Michael was also leading his team of international experts in law, finance, engineering and public administration. Trained as an Urban Planner and Economist, Michael was conversant in these subjects, but more importantly, he was the only person able to put all of these critical pieces together into one strategic plan. The final product included an analysis of our governance structure and administration, a “service delivery plan”, financial model, and a Road Map to Implementation. The proof that Michael’s project was successful lies in the millions of dollars of funding dedicated to implementing this plan. My country has benefited greatly from Michael’s hard work and commitment to his job. His skills at creative problem solving, diplomacy, and compassionate leadership gave Iraq at least one project of which we can be proud. In a land as difficult as Iraq, this is a great accomplishment. I would not hesitate to hire Michael again in any capacity, because I know that if he doesn’t have the answer, then he knows where to find it. I look forward to the day where he and I can work together again.
It is my pleasure to provide a letter of reference for Michael Crane whom I have known for the last 24 months. Most recently, I hired Michael in the capacity of expert economist and strategic planner to complete a wide-ranging economic analysis and economic development strategy as part of the preparation of a 25-year planning strategy (Fujairah Structure Framework Plan 2040) for the Emirate of Fujairah in the United Arab Emirates. Michael’s specific contributions to the project included a 25-year forecast of population, analysis of key demographic characteristics, a robust analysis of current and forecasted employment trends including the preparation of strategies for securing an internationally competitive skills base and the formulation of a range of economic indicators and supporting economic development policies. One of the key outcomes of Michael’s work included the preparation of a Sustainable Economic Development Plan based on cluster analysis and detailed modelling of competitive advantages. The outcomes of Michael’s work were presented and well-received by our client, the Ruler of the Emirate, the Crown Prince and, specifically, the Chairman of Fujairah’s Department of Industry and Economy. I would strongly recommend Michael Crane to anyone seeking an expert in the fields of sustainable economic development, population, demographic and economic forecasting, or analysis of urban economics. His work was punctual, highly professional, and convincing. Michael was a pleasure to work with and we look forward to engaging his services again.
It is my pleasure to write a letter of reference for Michael Crane,International Consultant. I had the opportunity of working with Michael in 2010-2011 in Iraq where he was the Project Team Leader on a major UN sponsored project called “Iraq Public Sector Modernization Program.” I was the client on this project and monitored Michael’s work at monthly meetings, work sessions, technical deliberations and through his presentations and writing. Thus I had the opportunity to evaluate his technical, managerial and ethical capabilities that permits me to write this Letter of Reference. During his time at the project, I was thoroughly satisfied with the way Michael managed the project. His task was to lead a team of experts to restructure the Ministry of Municipalities and Public Works away from a central-controlled administration to a modern, self-sustaining organization with the ability to meet its mission and deliver decentralized, equitable and quality services to the population. He used a combination of careful analysis and creative problem solving skills to find common ground among stakeholders from different ethnic and political backgrounds. His reports were well written, clear, and delivered on time. Michael is able to work effectively with co-employees, making him a great leader and team-player. He has a highly organized and professional management style. He is capable to establish and maintain professional working relationship with all involved parties. He consistently managed inter project and other involved teams to deliver projects on-time to an agreed quality standards. He introduces initiatives to increase partner satisfaction and drives an organizational culture of open, two-way stakeholder communication to ensure complete understanding of partner’s needs. During his service, he undeniably demonstrated his ability to drive an organizational culture that focuses on results, inspiring others to achieve goals and expectations. With his ability to set self increasingly demanding goals and targets and to challenge self to exceed them, I am sure Michael will be persevering through all obstacles and difficulties in any given situation. I have no doubts you will be exceptionally pleased if you hire him.
Congratulations on receiving The Vermont Planners Association Outstanding Project of the Year Award for Stowe’s village vibrancy campaign. Your efforts are very much appreciated and have already led to the formation of the Village Vibrancy Committee and some positive action steps towards enhancing our village.
The City of Belfast engaged Crane Associates to perform what became known as The Belfast Vibrancy Report. We received eight proposals, interviewed three and chose Crane Associates. We were completely satisfied. Michael Crane and his company did a great job, went more than the extra mile, visited numerous times, performed many interviews that gave him a good overview of Belfast and our situation, created a very helpful document, always communicated professionally, clearly and expertly, and we are left feeling very and completely happy. We would engage them again without hesitation. We fully recommend Michael Crane and Crane Associates.
Michael developed a set of amazing (“I didn’t realize that!”) facts about West Brattleboro and then engaged the community in a dynamic planning process. The result was a well-crafted Master Plan for West Brattleboro to guide future development in and around this important Town village. The report’s graphics were outstanding.
We have a beautiful waterfront in Windsor, Vt. that is totally neglected and underutilized. Michael gave us a number of exciting ideas that have the potential to transform this resource into one of our Town’s most important assets.
Michael Crane led Shaftsbury through a downtown revitalization process that resulted in a very practical and understandable report. Michael did an exceptionally creative job in getting community feedback. Our survey had a 75% return rate giving the committee full confidence in the report recommendations. The final report was and is very valuable to the Economic Development Committee. We have the statistics and market analysis we need to focus our development efforts appropriately and each recommendation had the steps to implementation outlined so we can make incremental progress without losing sight of the end goal. Working with Michael was both fun and productive.
Dear Michael, before the year ended I wanted to write and say thank you for the work Crane Associates provided to the City of South Portland…Crane Associates was incredibly fast and attentive to detail every step of the way. Your unique ability to capture data and get the questions answered quickly and accurately was invaluable to the process. As a result, Crane Associates played a large and important role in the fulfillment of the City’s first Consolidated Planning process, ultimately helping the City receive full review and approval with zero comments coming from the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The City looks forward to someday working again with Crane Associates.