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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  • 2020: Aligning Resources to Expand Broadband & Its Benefits in Rural Michigan

    Authors: Mitchell Shapiro

    Following up on his REI co-learning plan examining issues and strategies related to the potential for rural electric cooperatives (RECs) to help bridge the digital divide, Mitchell’s Innovation Fellowship will focus on aligning a broad range of stakeholder resources to more effectively expand broadband and its benefits in rural Michigan. This will include the state’s RECs as well as its regional planning association (RPOs), local governments and community anchor institutions (CAIs). The project will also support efforts to effectively leverage the expertise and longstanding Michigan-focused experience of Connected Nation Michigan, as well as the recently launched Michigan Moonshot project. The Moonshot project is a statewide effort to expand rural broadband led by Merit Network, a nonprofit university-owned network operator that has been providing high-performance communication services to the state’s educational and CAI community for more than 50 years.

    View Shapiro's 2019 Co-Learning Plan

    Read the Report About the Project
  • 2019: Electric Cooperatives and the Digital Divide: Helping Connect Rural Americans to 21st Century Opportunity

    Authors: Mitchell Shapiro, Independent Consultant

    The task of bringing high speed Internet to America's rural communities remains a challenging and painfully unfinished one, aggravating the existing economic and social divides these communities face. To help address this challenge, certain rural energy cooperatives (RECs)—including three in Michigan—have begun deploying high-speed fiber optic networks to better connect their members. This project examines the experience of these pioneers and related factors to develop a body of information, analysis, and recommendations to inform strategies aimed at expanding broadband, and the benefits it can bring to underserved rural communities.

    Read the Report About the Project
  • 2018: Network and Digital Media Strategies for Community Development Efforts: A Case Study of The Southwest Michigan Planning Commission

    Authors: Laleah Fernandez, Michigan State University

    This project will focus on a digital media strategy for The Southwest Michigan Planning Commission (SWMPC) to improve awareness, consensus building and action, related to current topics of policy importance for economic development. In particular, this project will include a network analysis to help optimize the flow of information (e.g. remove redundancy), specify influencers/opinion leaders, and improve communication efficiency based on strength of ties and attributes among stakeholders. The project will result in a case study research paper and digital media outreach template for other regional economic development organizations.

    About the Project
  • 2016: Exploring the Use of Virtual Human Resource Services to Improve Farm Profitability

    Authors: Kristine Ranger, The Learning Connection

    Progressive farm managers often find themselves managing people as much or more than they manage animals and equipment. This dramatic change for farm owner/managers is very challenging because most have little experience and no education in the management of critical human resources. Rural economic development and the future success of Michigan farms depends on the availability of resources and technical assistance that is readily available to these operations. This Co-Learning Plan will explore the use of Virtual Human Resources Services for dairy farmers, including the use of phone coaching, virtual farm orientation or onboarding courses, the use of employee and employer handbooks and templates, improved hiring practices, and the need for Spanish versions of HR material.

    Read the Report About the Project
  • 2014: Upper Peninsula Economic Development Data Collection and Marketing Project

    Authors: Jennifer James-Mesloh, Northern Michigan University

    This economic development data collection and marketing project stemmed from the collective focus of two organizations, LSCP and UPCDC, which determined that business attraction and marketing were needed for the 15 Upper Peninsula (U.P.) counties. Business attraction and marketing are capital and time-intensive endeavors, requiring resources typically unavailable to economic developers in the U.P. Thus, the LSCP was charged with facilitating a regional-wide effort to create digital and hardcopy material aligned with the International Economic Development Council's (IEDC) site- selection data standards. The information collected was later converted by the LSCP into individualized marketing pieces for each county in the region.

    Project Updated As Of September 30th, 2014

    Read the Report About the Project
  • 2012: The WebPolis Consortium

    Authors: Norman Tyler, Institute for Geospatial Research and Education, Eastern Michigan University

    A varied array of local economic development policies and programs are available to local Michigan communities, but local leaders can be confused about how they can be utilized in their own community. One way to solve for this was through use of online resources.  A suite of online applications for use by local governments was developed by faculty at Eastern Michigan University in conjunction with test communities and is known as the CityHallCommons (formerly WebPolis) Consortium. The available applications include a community discussion forum, online surveys, real estate financial analysis, loan and grant search engine, and a template for an online community newsletter. One of the most requested modules for the CityHallCommons Consortium was a local economic development application. This experience offered them a hands-on opportunity to better understand this knowledge through assisting in the development of a significant tool of local economic development.

    Project Updated As Of September 30th, 2012

    Read the Report About the Project
  • 2012: On-Site Technology Training for Small, Rural Michigan Businesses

    Authors: Eric Frederick, Connect Michigan; Elizabeth Riesser, Connected Nation

    Connect Michigan has been leading the way to bring the economic and quality of life benefits of broadband to all Michigan residents. This report explored the opportunity for hands-on, on-site technology training for Michigan small businesses and suggests a model for local implementation.

    Project Updated As Of September 30th, 2012

    Read the Report About the Project