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WUPPDR Attraction and Retention of Remote Workers

Student-Led, Faculty-Guided Project (2021)

Authors: Abdulla Alzaabi, Jake Desrosiers, Steve Hemgesberg, Kelsie Martin, and Sax Morgan


As part of a federal economic development initiative to develop a Pandemic Response and Resiliency Plan, WUPPDR is exploring opportunities for economic investment through the attraction and retention of remote workers and remote work opportunities.  

The COVID-19 Pandemic has reshaped the world of work, along with commuting patterns and migration trends. The Western Upper Peninsula has historically experienced population decline, and, like many places in rural Michigan and the US, is home to an aging population and a shrinking labor pool that makes traditional economic investment and business attraction strategies more complicated. However, stakeholders have long recognized that the unique natural and educational amenities in the region are an important asset that could attract new residents to the area, along with accompanying economic activity, if work was conducted remotely either inside or outside the region.   

Now, as many employees and employers nationwide consider the potential to work remotely, rural regions like the Western UP, which features unparalleled access to outdoor recreation and other quality of life amenities, have become more attractive to families, workers, and businesses. Stakeholders in the region already report new business investment and real estate activity resulting from these changing trends, and are exploring opportunities for attracting additional new residents and economic investment through the promotion of remote work opportunities. The ability to do so, however, depends on an understanding of what may draw remote workers or others to the region, what resources may be needed by new residents working remotely, what markets, industries, or populations might be most likely to relocate, and what community stakeholders can do to support this trend and opportunity.

Author Information

Students in the capstone Planning Practicum class in their final semester in the Urban and Regional Planning Program in the School of Planning Design and Construction at Michigan State University.

Faculty Member: Dr. Kotval

Community Client: Mr. Wuorenmaa