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Creating Jobs and Wealth in Distressed Michigan Communities

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The U.S. EDA University Center for Regional Economic Innovation at MSU has awarded eight new Student-Led/Faculty-Guided Projects for the 2023 project year:

Crowdfunding Capital Raises

Dr. Dirk Colbry, MSU Director of Graduate Recruiting, Department of Computational Mathematics, Science, and Engineering, undergrad students in his Winter 2023 semester courses, and Chris Miller, Board Chair of the National Coalition for Community Capital (NC3) will secure and analyze data to set a baseline of community impact by projects funded by community capital raises. This work recognizes that while the need for data is pressing, the demand has come more from the traditional investment and venture capital side of the investment crowdfunding world, not the community side.

Specifically, the data that will be examined will be with a framework that highlights the impact on ALICE populations on economically distressed communities, on RRC communities, and on Opportunity Zones. Engagement with economic development districts and helping them and others with data and technical assistance. This work seeks to demonstrate how this tool works to build stronger, more equitable communities, and to help even more communities create vibrant local economies through investment and ownership.

MSU Urban and Regional Planning Practicum Course

MSU Urban and Regional Planning Practicum course students will be working on six projects under the guidance of Dr. Zenia Kotval. Students will create a sidewalk inventory for safer routes for children; build community engagement to guide action strategies, a comprehensive neighborhood redevelopment strategy, and survey of land use characteristics; a recreation director position feasibility study, recreational asset development; a development and finance plan for a key corridor in Lansing; a district improvement plan, development options for district businesses on Main Street, and a vacant parcel reuse plan. Students will also work on community requirement guidelines for potential projects, development policies review, and a consolidation plan. Updates on these projects and additional information will be shared on the REI website in the next weeks.

Co-Constructing Circular Economic Opportunities through University Waste to Organics Diversion Program

Northern Michigan University Department of Earth, Environment, and Geographical Sciences (EEGS) Practicum course students will be working on a food waste audit under the guidance of faculty Dr. Jelili Adebiyi. More than 108 billion pounds of food is wasted in the U.S yearly, causing enormous economic loss and negative enviro-climatic impact. Most wasted food ends in landfills and are a major source of methane emissions in the U.S. Universities and colleges across the country are a major food waster. This project presents circular economic opportunities for food waste diversion from landfills and repurposing into organic material for improved soil health and agricultural productivity. This project explores the opportunities for the diversion of food waste that is generated at Northern Michigan University dining to produce vermicompost.

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