Collaboration leads to exciting new opportunities

Two northern Michigan communities are coming together to fulfill a similar need with a new and exciting solution.

Partnership, collaboration, teamwork and alliance. These are all familiar terms in the world of economic development. For over 20 years, Michigan State University Extension and Northern Lakes Economic Alliance (NLEA) have been in a partnership that allows both organizations to thrive and grow in ways one couldn’t do without the other. 

The principle in which the NLEA is founded upon is the collaboration between public and private entities helping and guiding one another to create a better community and business environment in Northwest Michigan. Most recently, an opportunity to assist two communities within the NLEA region presented itself. In a time where finding and retaining employees can be difficult, the NLEA had to get creative.

“We are very excited about this exciting new service at the NLEA,” said Bethany Whitley, community development director. “For years now we have been hearing about the struggles our communities are having with finding capable and experienced part time staff. By collaborating with one another, we are confident we have found a creative solution to address their needs, and we hope to expand this program to other communities in the near future.”

This new position created by the NLEA is the answer for those communities. Both have a need within their Downtown Development Authority to fill a director’s role when they may not be able to support a full time staff person on their own. The goal of this pilot program is to help each DDA create a stable foundation, to implement high priority projects, and to establish the NLEA as the connecting organization for local governments to work together. By contracting their part time staff with the NLEA, they will have the support and resources of the full NLEA staff, as well as more longevity and technical skills.

Time to get creative folks, there are opportunities out there. Whatever your community need or business need, there is a creative solution. Utilize resources such as your local MSU Extension office, chamber of commerce or economic development group to brainstorm a solution to your problem.

Michigan State University Extension has had a unique relationship with the regional economic development organization Northern Lakes Economic Alliance (NLEA) for more than 20 years. Recognizing the strength of combining resources, this partnership focuses on economic development, entrepreneurship growth and community infrastructure throughout a four-county region in the northwest Lower Peninsula, specifically Antrim, Charlevoix, Cheboygan and Emmet counties. As a result, the NLEA utilizes resources offered through MSU Extension as it provides leadership to state-wide programs sponsored by MSU Extension.” 

Did you find this article useful?

You Might Also Be Interested In