REI E-Update

March, 2018

Share, Learn, Create Innovative Economic Development Ideas!

A diverse and dynamic network that develops and implements innovative economic development ideas, tools, models, policies, and practices for Michigan.

In This Issue

2018 Project Announcements

REI funds several types of projects: Co-Learning Projects, which are researched and written by professionals; Co-Implementation Plans, which are led by Innovation Fellows; and Student-Led, Faculty-Guided Technical Assistance projects, which are researched and written by student teams at Michigan universities and colleges. Visit the Completed Projects page for examples of these types of work and visit the Submit an Application page for timelines and to apply for funding.

Co-Learning Plans

Strengthening Michigan's Infrastructure and Sustainability: Effective Implementation of Master Plans and Capital Improvement Plans

John Austin, Director & Dayne Walling, Senior Policy Adviser, Michigan Economic Center

This plan will examine Michigan's municipal master plans and Capital Improvement Plans in the context of the challenges with public infrastructure systems and the opportunities for a future blue and green economy. Statewide information will be assessed and ten municipal profiles developed and compared representing a range of counties, cities, townships, and villages based on population size, economic characteristics, and geographic location, including the core communities of Benton Harbor, Detroit, Flint and Grand Rapids. Legislative, policy and strategic management reforms will be recommended to overcome impediments and to optimize public infrastructure systems in enhancing economic growth, protecting health, and increasing sustainability.

Creating a Fashion Entrepreneurship Community

Meleena Herring & Joe Carr, The Runway

Fashion, textile and design are ubiquitous and Michigan communities who
capture the interest and energy of entrepreneurs in this industry can create, attract and retain talent while producing new companies and jobs. This plan will outline the analysis and design necessary to create a successful fashion entrepreneur ecosystem in a community.

Photo of The Runway storefront

A Study of the Economic Impact of Startup Accelerator Programs in Michigan

Tony Willis, Lansing Economic Area Partnership

The most common way to define a Startup Accelerator is a fixed-term, cohort based program, that includes outlined objectives for the participants, industry expertise (mentorship), educational components, an exchange of funding for equity, and culminating in a "Demo Day." With the successful increase in accelerator programs, many communities, universities, and other entrepreneurial support organizations across the nation have decided to either create or replicate accelerator models in their own communities with hopes of having similar success. Despite the upsurge in visibility and glamorization of the startup lifestyle coupled with the successes of notable startups who were alumni of named accelerators, there is no study which illustrates the actual economic impact a startup accelerator has on its local region.

Smart Cities and Transportation in Michigan

Dong Zhao, Ph.D., School of Planning, Design and Construction, Michigan State University

Smart cities represent the future of urban and infrastructure development. This project aims to provide a holistic picture of the past, current, and trends of smart cities while retaining a focus on the state of Michigan. This project will focus on the electric-vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure to support a smart city using a Detroit-based case study. A mixed-methods approach will be used including survey, statistical analysis, and computer-based simulation. The outcomes will provide quantifiable evidence about smart cities and infrastructure development to Michigan leaders and provide policy implications for the Michigan automobile industry.

Innovation Fellows

Network and Digital Media Strategies for Mobilization toward Policy Change

Laleah Fernandez

Laleah Fernandez, The Quello Center, 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.

Exploring the Underground Economy in Detroit

Rita Fields

Rita Fields, Ph.D., Business College, Madonna University

Economic development initiatives targeting entrepreneurs have found Detroit to be a ripe breeding ground for talent, and for those entrepreneurs who are able to participate in those programs this has been a time of great fortune. The reality, though, is that these programs are not open to all who desire to ascend to the entrepreneurial ranks. For a multitude of reasons that need to be further identified and explored, some aren't able to take advantage of this opportunity. For some entrepreneurs, transitioning from being 'off the books' (or, as referred to in the title, underground) to 'on the books' would result in a significant pay cut due to the costs of conducting business. The research proposed in this study will focus on the definition of the underground economy, identification of susceptible participants, barriers of entry that have prevented participants of the underground economy from engaging in standardized entrepreneurial development, an attempt to quantify the potential economic impact of the underground economy in the region and why a commitment to reconnect that effort to the overall impact benefits the region and propose recommendations on how funders can be more inclusive in their funding guidelines.

Student-Led Faculty-Guided Projects

MSU School of Planning Design and Construction

City of Durand Downtown Economic Development Enhancement Strategy

The City of Durand is seeking to update its 2004 Downtown Economic Enhancement Strategy. Home to roughly 3,400 residents, the City hosts a population that is 64% low to moderate income (LMI). The community has made great strides to improve and beautify the downtown district but still struggles to attract and retain viable local businesses. The goal of updating this plan is to develop a comprehensive strategy for attracting, retaining, and growing local businesses in the historic downtown. It will include performing basic market research, implementing a community wide survey, and incorporating new data into the existing plan parameters to identify recommendations and implementation strategies. For example, identifying business development strategies that target high demand commercial uses.

Village of Sebewaing Sea Kayaking and Recreation Study

The Village of Sebewaing is in the beginning stages of the first Master Plan in over thirty years. To include the Village's wonderful yet underutilized natural resources, this plan will take into account factors unique to Sebewaing. Due to budget constraints, this fiscally distressed community is seeking the help of the MSU Urban and Regional Planning Practicum Program, to incorporate a kayak presence and walking path into attainable goals within the Village of Sebewaing Master Plan. Students will help evaluate current kayak and walking trends, analyze data for feasibility, identify the best potential site(s), and formulate strategies for implementation to create a more navigable community for residents and visitors alike. This has the potential to spur future revitalization and economic growth for downtown Sebewaing and surrounding areas.

Kayakers in Saginaw Bay at the mouth of the Sebawing River

Assessment of the Maker Economy in Detroit

Student Team, Wayne State University, Led by Professor Robin Boyle

For many commentating on national trends, the 'maker economy' is a network of inventors, artisans and entrepreneurs dedicated to designing and making, and being committed to the places where they live. The maker economy has been encouraged by and employs new technologies and systems that enable individuals or small businesses to design, make and merchandise products and services that were only available to larger business entities. The proposal as outlined below builds off a metropolitan-wide study of the emerging maker economy conducted in UP 6550 - Introduction to Local Economic Development, an elective course in the WSU Master of Urban Planning program. This work, completed by 20 graduate students (under the guidance of Professor Robin Boyle) in the winter semester (Jan-April) 2017 addressed whether a 'maker economy has developed in Southeast Michigan, particularly Detroit, who are the "maker" enterprises, what support systems ("enablers") exit to assist emerging or growing firms identified in the maker economy and what are the perceived gaps in the services; supports provided by the enabler; support organizations?

Detroit skyline

Big-Box Converted to Co-op

Student Team, Alma College, Led by Edward C. Lorenz

An Alma College student team plans to work with the local community to convert an abandoned 'big-box' retail location (K-Mart) to a year round fresh vegetable and fruit production facility. Launching a cooperative controlled by local consumers and workers will benefit both urban and rural poor in the region.

MSU Center for Community and Economic Development, University Center for Regional Economic Innovation, 1615 E. Michigan Ave, Lansing, MI 48912
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