Forming community partnerships to identify economic development opportunities

This Michigan State University Extension program is providing the essential leadership and organizational training that will allow communities to come together.

October 1, 2017 - Author: Sean Corp

While big changes are often possible only when communities work together, large-scale collaboration is hard. A new Michigan State University Extension program is providing the essential leadership and organizational training that will allow communities to come together, identify problems they want to solve and form an action plan to map out a path to achieving their goals.

The LEAD (Leaders Economic Alliance Development) program brought together community leaders from Mason, Lake, Newaygo and Oceana counties in partnership with MSU Extension and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Four sessions took place, one in each county – each with a specific goal. The program offered participants a chance to develop partnerships, identify collaborators, enhance leadership skills and, crucially, develop a long-term action plan.

The highlight of the program, a civic forum, brought together dozens of community members from each of the four counties to identify goals and opportunities to work together on economic development efforts.

  • 109 people participated in the LEAD program, including 64 at the civic forum.
  • The communities set long-term collaboration efforts on recreation and trails, workforce development and broadband infrastructure.
  • MSU Extension and community subcommittees will work together in 2017 to further develop action plans.

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