Discovering and applying new and innovative economic development tools, models, policies, and programs
Creating Jobs and Wealth in Distressed Michigan Communities

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Implications of Indigenous Food Systems for Michigan Tribes 

Jessica Barnes-Najor, Michigan State University 

This project will expand on the work of Wiba Anung, a partnership between the International Tribal Council of Michigan and representatives from MSU by conducting a Photovoice project to explore community members' perceptions of how colonization has disrupted Native food systems, how these disruptions have contributed economic and health disparities, and how tribes could support a return to locally produced and traditional foods. Further, the Wiba Anung team will examine local issues relation to the intersections of social, economic, food, and health iniquities from the lens of tribal members using the Photovoice methodology. This project will be grounded in community-based participatory research and Tribal-Participatory Research. 


Making Ends Meet: Women's Social Capital Development in Regional Informal Economies 

Louise Jezierski, PhD & Sejuti Das Gupta, PhD, James Madison College, MSU 

This project will examine how women workers and employers navigate the informal sector of Michigan's economy. Employing mixed methodologies such as archival data analysis and in-depth interviews, this project will map and model supply chains and networks in the connections between formal and informal work in Lansing's regional informal economy, taking into account the layoffs and hardships women have faced due to the 2020 COVID-19 Pandemic. This will reveal how women find work and adapt in an economic crisis that especially targets women's employment and household social reproduction concerns. 


Foundations of a U.S. Circular Economy Transition Framework 

Jacob T. Namovich, University of Michigan, School of Environment and Sustainability (SEAS) 

This project will investigate the role that the U.S. government can plan in circular economy transitions. It will work to consolidate extant international work in the field by studying transition strategies and determine transferable knowledge that can be employed in the U.S. in correspondence to top-down decarbonization efforts. Findings will be consolidated into a published report and resources discovered will make up an appended annotated bibliography. 


Strategies and Tools for Economic Development Organizations to Champion Equitable Economic Development 

Anthony Willis, Private Consultant 

This project will consist of various case studies that will assist with a compare and contrast between how Michigan entities are operating versus other states, as well as give insight on common denominators that may exist as well in regards to equitable economic development. It will create a detailed playbook that economic development organizations can use to address the many inequities that their communities are facing, especially within communities whose population consists primarily of Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC). This will allow Michigan to be at the forefront in creating an environment where prosperity can be experienced and achieved by all.


To learn more about these projects, as well as other 2021 REI supported ones, click here.

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