The Central Upper Peninsula of Michigan boasts remarkable assets. Despite its distance from major urban centers, its natural beauty, higher education institutions, and emerging technology assets stand out both within Michigan and nationally. Facilities such as the Innovate Marquette SmartZone, Sawyer International Airport, and Northern Michigan University’s indoor agriculture research system, are among the assets that distinguish the region. However, the Central Upper Peninsula also faced the lingering impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, compounded by the decline of forestry and mining, limited housing supply, and the continued out-migration of talented young people.
To spur sustainable regional collaboration, the Central Upper Peninsula Planning and Development Regional Commission (CUPPAD) engaged TIP Strategies to prepare an economic recovery and resilience strategy for Marquette County. The plan sought to build on unique assets and opportunities within the region; laid out strategies and actions to foster the growth of investment, jobs, and businesses; and identified potential funding sources for priority initiatives. Recommendations focused on leveraging outdoor recreation assets and natural amenities, supporting the region’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, and addressing widespread challenges such as housing and broadband infrastructure that impact talent attraction and retention. This work served as the starting point for a larger effort encompassing the six counties served by CUPPAD: Alger, Delta, Dickinson, Marquette, Menominee, and Schoolcraft. In addition to crafting the Marquette County strategy, TIP conducted a region-wide training event and provided training, templates, and other tools that would enable the remaining five counties to prepare their own county-level plans for creating more resilient and sustainable economies. Once finalized, the six county-based strategies will be aggregated and incorporated as a component of the region’s comprehensive economic development strategy (CEDS).