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 2018, the fourth year of RPI in the western U.P., 7 projects were funded.

  1. Energy Efficiency & Clean Energy Outreach: In 2017 RPI helped establish the Western U.P. Energy Audit Program which offers technical assistance to businesses in the Western U.P. to identify energy efficiency investment opportunities and leverage existing energy efficiency program resources. WUPPDR will continue its outreach efforts matched by a $58,000 grant from USDA and to facilitate energy planning workshops in the Western U.P.
  2. Western U.P. Trails Database: Partnering with other planning regions in Lower Peninsula and The U.P., WUPPDR will build upon the previous year’s investment in a Western U.P. recreation trail inventory and establish a U.P.-wide trail dataset hosted by Up North Trails.
  3. Placemaking Support: Building on placemaking projects funded in 2017, WUPPDR will award a $10,000 grant for high-impact projects to foster vibrant communities. The chosen project will then be required to perform a crowdfunding campaign through Patronicity for a chance to be matched by MEDC to score even more money for the project.
  4. Regional Geographic Information System Phase 2 (GIS): Building upon the previous year’s RPI investment, WUPPDR will partner with one or more local governments and Michigan Technological University to pilot the Western U.P. Regional GIS program. This pilot program will help establish data migration, maintenance, access, and end-user training processes that can be replicated across the region and help establish a fee-based, self-sustaining Regional GIS.  This phase will demonstrate value of utilizing GIS at the local government level and help establish data-driven asset management.
  5. Pure Michigan Regional Marketing Campaign for the U.P.: As in 2017, in partnership with other private and public entities, WUPPDR will contribute match funding to a U.P.-Wide Pure Michigan regional marketing campaign.
  6. Marketing Mini Grants: Many communities recognize the value of marketing to attract new residents, businesses, and tourists; however, they often lack the financial resources and expertise to develop professional marketing plans and materials. WUPPDR will provide community marketing mini-grants to help develop and/or update marketing plans and materials and existing community assets.
  7. U.P. Brewery & Winery Trail: Agritourism is a growing economic driver for many communities in the United States. Leveraging the Upper Peninsula’s burgeoning craft brewery and winery industries, WUPPDR is partnering with the Western U.P. Regional Chamber Alliance and related organizations, with input from Regions 1b and 1c, to create a marketing, implementation, and financing plan for a yet-to-be-named “trail” of breweries and wineries to promote this specialty tourism Upper Peninsula.

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.