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Initiative will help state leverage assets

04-07-2010

Amidst all the discussion about the economic challenges Michigan faces, I think we sometimes forget that we live in a state that still has an abundance of natural and human assets.

It often is difficult, however, to appreciate the many resources that surround us without occasionally pausing to take stock. Organizations, including universities, typically are required by financial accounting regulations to track their assets. Even if this were not required, it’s an exercise that is important for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is marshaling assets in order to seize opportunities.

Pausing to consider our own community and regional assets likewise could allow us to better pursue opportunities in the 21st-century economy. Michigan State University, through our Land Policy Institute (LPI) and MSU Extension, is working with the state and its regional planning organizations to present a fast-paced series of training and planning sessions around Michigan to do just that over the next couple months.

Dubbed the Michigan Prosperity Initiative, the project will bring economic and planning expertise from our faculty to the state’s planning regions. MSU is well versed in the new economy and has a well-deserved reputation as an effective, trusted local partner. By helping shepherd local inventory and planning programs and offering assistance to community officials and planners as they develop regional prosperity plans, together we will better position Michigan to tap sources of funding and investment.

Successful communities and regions tend to have such prosperity plans, which serve as a sort of blueprint that lends credibility to them as places where private and public investment can be made with confidence.

The Michigan Prosperity Initiative is supported by a broad coalition of partners including the governor’s office; the Michigan Department of Energy, Labor, and Economic Growth; the Michigan Economic Development Corp.; the Michigan Townships Association; the Michigan Municipal League; the Michigan Association of Planning; and the 14 State Planning and Development Regions.

Michigan State isn’t arriving late on the scene, either. Among a wide variety of outreach and education programs we offer communities and partners statewide, the LPI and MSU Extension operate the successful Michigan Citizen Planner program, which trains community planners and policymakers. And MSU Extension, of course, serves every county of Michigan with vibrant programs and services geared to both urban and rural residents.

Governor Jennifer Granholm called the Michigan Prosperity Initiative “a road map to strengthen Michigan’s regional economies and one that aligns perfectly with the Obama administration’s efforts to foster regional collaborations.” Washington is prioritizing the funding of places that are developing economic plans based on their regional advantages, she noted, adding that this push to leverage our still-formidable set of assets could yield transformative opportunities.

As LPI Director Soji Adelaja has explained, every location in Michigan doesn’t have everything, but virtually every place in our state has something that can appeal to segments of the population and industry in the creation of new prosperity.

We at MSU have been applying our can-do spirit to our local partnerships for many years––a hallmark of the land-grant university system we pioneered. The Michigan Prosperity Initiative is another way we apply traditional land-grant values to what I call today’s World Grant Ideal, bringing cutting-edge knowledge and practice to our stakeholders in every corner of Michigan.

The schedule and locations for training sessions around the state are on the LPI Web site at landpolicy.msu.edu/MPI. You can learn about LPI’s annual Michigan Land and Prosperity Summit on April 23, which also will include discussion of the Michigan Prosperity Initiative, at 2010michsummit.org.