Michigan’s Upper Peninsula (UP) benefits from a high quality of life with an abundance of natural resources. Yet despite its many assets, the 15-county region has experienced a steady decline in population for more than four decades, a trend that is expected to continue for the next 20 years. Given this decline, it has been challenging for the region to attract new investment, as the availability and quality of the labor pool is a primary factor in business location decisions.
In fall 2022, local leaders engaged TIP Strategies to lead the Upper Peninsula Labor Market Study. The work is a collaborative effort of UP economic developers, including InvestUP; the three UP planning regions; Upper Peninsula Michigan Works!; and a variety of stakeholders, who are designated by the State of Michigan as the Collaborative Development Council for Region 1 (the Upper Peninsula). Funded with support from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and the US Economic Development Administration, the study aimed to better understand the regional workforce in order to more closely align the labor pool with employer demand. Completed in May 2023, the work draws on stakeholder input and an extensive quantitative analysis that resulted in a county-by-county illustration of current conditions in the UP. The data and recommendations give leaders the information they need to target workforce and business development efforts intentionally and strategically to yield the most significant results. Recommendations were grouped under six topics: using data to drive decision-making, leveraging regional expertise, creating collaborative career pathways, raising awareness of careers, attracting talent, and supporting small business and entrepreneurship. TIP also prepared brief profiles for each county highlighting specific challenges and linking them to strategies in the larger study.