Stronger Economies Together: Could your Michigan community benefit?

The United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development’s Stronger Economies Together program provides rural communities with increased capacity to work together regionally to improve economic development.

The United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development (USDA RD) launched the Stronger Economies Together (SET) program in 2009 to strengthen the capacity of rural communities to strategically work together around community economic strengths with the goal of developing and implementing regional economic development. In Michigan, SET is a partnership between the USDA RD, North Central Regional Center for Rural Development, Michigan State University Extension, and the Purdue Center for Regional Development. To date, the SET program has taken place in 28 states across the United States.

The strong partnerships of SET bring rural communities the talents, resources and facilitation of state and federal agencies and MSU Extension. SET works with rural communities to design and implement a practical and viable regional economic plan developed by local community leaders and guided by in-depth data, provided by the Purdue Center for Regional Development, customized for your specific region. There is a focus on emerging clusters, comparative economic advantages and detailed demographic and socio-economic information that assist with informed decision making processes.

The SET program is usually made up of several rural counties that share similar economic development challenges and opportunities. The program is developed for communities that have some experience working together in collaboration and are ready to build on these successes. For communities that are newly working together, the USDA RD’s Leaders in Economic Alliance Development (LEAD) program may be a more suitable option. In both programs, community leaders work together with technical assistance from USDA RD and MSU Extension over the course of several months to identify targeted goals. Successful implementation of the program establishes long-term, substantive relationships between the community leaders working toward common goals and positions their communities to strongly compete for funds aimed at accomplishing their goals, driving regional economic development. Examples of SET success stories can be found here.

For additional information you may contact Ryan Coffey at or 231-924-9677.

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