Western Upper Peninsula Regional Prosperity Initiative

For years, the State of Michigan seldom considered how state agency regions and service areas could interact and geographically coincide most efficiently and effectively. Collaboration on mutual goals was lacking or nonexistent. Agencies came to work at cross-purposes, sometimes without even realizing it. The consequences of this state of affairs have been exacerbated in recent years by sharply reduced public funds.

The State of Michigan created the Regional Prosperity Initiative (RPI) to develop and encourage regional collaboration among agencies to resolve these issues. RPI in the Western U.P. began in early 2014 when WUPPDR received funding through a voluntary competitive grant process that was open only to designated planning regions and metropolitan planning organizations.

Key objectives of RPI are:

  • Clean up the disparate service areas of multiple agencies and organizations
  • Reduce overlapping responsibilities, conflicting goals, and duplication of services
  • Dedicate public funding and effort for similar functions to be delivered by the same entity
  • Enhance private-public-nonprofit cooperation and align activities for greatest impact

Collaboration improves awareness of what different agencies are doing, making it possible to eliminate duplicate and overlapping services. Over the long term, more difficult problems can be resolved in a small group or one-on-one environment. Agreements can be developed to address differences and similarities, ultimately creating a coordinated service delivery system.

For WUPPDR’s RPI 2017, the fourth year of RPI in the western U.P., 7 projects were funded.

  1. Energy Efficiency & Clean Energy Outreach: Many businesses, nonprofit organizations, and municipalities in the Upper Peninsula face high electricity and fossil fuel expenses. Many organizations are unaware of available resources to help reduce energy expenses. WUPPDR will partner with Region 1b and regional energy planning organizations to conduct outreach to local businesses and governments to increase awareness of funding for clean energy and energy efficiency, provide assistance with understanding energy expenses, and provide information about pre-existing support and assistance programs.
  2. U.P.-Wide Pure Michigan Regional Campaign (Region 1a component)WUPPDR (Region 1a) will provide match funds, in conjunction with CUPPAD and EUPRPDC (Regions 1b and 1c, respectively) and other private and public stakeholders, towards a Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) Pure Michigan marketing campaign for the U.P. This will help build the region’s profile and draw visitors.
  3. Brownfield & Blight Priority Database and Mapping: Brownfield sites and blighted areas are community health and safety hazards and also decrease the attractiveness and property values of our communities. WUPPDR, in partnership with Michigan Technological University, will develop a database and map of potential regional brownfield and blight remediation projects.  The project will include a survey of local government officials to identify priority blight and brownfield locations to assist with identifying and implementing resources for remediation. The priority locations map will serve as a communication tool for developers and communities.
  4. Broadband Connectivity- Continuing work performed in RPI 2016, WUPPDR will complete  a vertical assets inventory which will identify existing towers and their characteristics in the region that can be targeted by providers for investment and build out. Deficiencies in access to broadband internet service will be addressed and implementation of the action plans will commence.
  5. Western U.P. Trails Database: The Western U.P. is home to numerous trail systems that facilitate outdoor recreation and generate economic activity. Benefits are stymied by disparate, often inaccurate, and difficult-to-access trail information. WUPPDR will, in partnership with trail groups, collect and display trail information using a standardized format for trail websites and mobile apps that assist tourists and local groups with planning recreation activities. Existing datasets will be updated to reflect current trail routes, conditions, and potentially amenities to increase visitor attraction and improve residents’ quality of life.
  6. Placemaking Support- Making communities attractive places to live, work and play has become a state priority. Municipalities in the Western U.P. have been educated on placemaking, but specific and achievable projects have not been identified and explored. On top of that, implementation funding has been severely lacking. WUPPDR will administer a mini-grant program to identify projects in the region and will award funds (local match required) to local communities for project implementation.
  7. Regional Geographic Information System (GIS): The Western U.P. lacks centralized geographic data on economic characteristics, property ownership, infrastructure, and other aspects and resources of the region. WUPPDR will develop a regional GIS, with a framework to sustain it through local fees, for managing, mapping, and increasing access to geographic data to further economic development and facilitate local government asset management.

Click here for more information about the Regional Prosperity Initiative from the Michigan Department of Technology, Management and Budget.

Click here for a list of Frequently Asked Questions, which is expanded from a list provided at the state’s website.