On Thursday, August 8, 2013, Gov. Rick Snyder announced the Regional Prosperity Initiative. This is a major effort to coordinate and improve economic development in Michigan on a regional basis. The initiative has two major parts: 1) A new geographic alignment of counties in Michigan by region; and 2) An incentive-based program to encourage all the major stakeholders within each region to work collaboratively together to develop regional prosperity plans.
Since 1969, there have been 14 regions providing economic development, transportation and related regional planning services statewide. In addition, there were numerous workforce development boards and adult education service areas. The Governor’s Office found more than 60 different regional configurations for service provisions in Michigan. This makes it more difficult to collaborate on issues of common interest. The 10 new regional boundaries will be used to guide not only regional prosperity planning, but also state service delivery. The MSU Land Policy Institute did significant analysis of alternative regional boundaries, which helped inform the final regional configuration. Factors that were considered included population density and employment density; travel to and from work; location of major regional infrastructure assets, such as airports, harbors, universities, power plants, etc.; and newspaper circulation and television markets. Mark Wyckoff, Senior Associate Director of LPI, also served on the Regional Reinvention Advisory Committee that helped design this new initiative.
This spring, the budget that was adopted by the legislature, beginning October 1, includes $2.5 million to assist with preparation of these 10 new regional prosperity plans. Funding also can be used to help pay for the costs of bringing all the major stakeholders together in each region, and in those regions that desire to do so, to facilitate federation or consolidation of regional services.