Grand Valley Metro Council
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WM Regional Prosperity Alliance

What is the Regional Prosperity Initiative?

The Regional Prosperity Initiative (RPI) is a voluntary process lead by Governor Rick Snyder to create vibrant regional economies.  The Governor identified ten regions throughout the state and asked leaders from the sectors of regional planning, adult education, workforce development, economic development, transportation, and higher education to pursue activities that promote prosperity.   Region 4, also known as the West Michigan Prosperity Alliance (WMPA) is comprised of 13 counties: Allegan, Barry, Ionia, Kent, Lake, Mason, Mecosta, Montcalm, Muskegon, Newaygo, Oceana, Osceola, and Ottawa.

A major focus of the  West Michigan Prosperity Alliance's (WMPA) Prosperity Plan is to identify projects of regional significance.  Since 2013, WMPA has received over $1,000,000 in grant money, helping to fund more than 16 projects of regional significance.  The process of selecting projects included a call for project submission with specific evaluation criteria requirements sent out to over 1,000 agencies and individuals; review of projects to determine if requirements were met, and then public voting at regional summits.

Project Evaluation Criteria:

  • Long-term impact & sustainability of project

  • Regional Impact – proportion of the region potentially impacted by the project

  • Provide employment opportunities to people with a variety of skill levels in a variety of employment sectors

  • Recognizes Region’s strengths and challenges

  • Project promotes and supports public and private partnerships

 

Latest Developments

Successes & Projects

The activities of the West Michigan Prosperity Alliance have resulted in significant achievements.  However, its greatest achievements are difficult to measure in that they are not quantifiable.  WMPA members have learned to listen, collaborate and cooperate with each other, and in so doing gained a new, or greater, working relationship and appreciation for the work of members in other sectors.   This knowledge and respect has formed a foundation of trust which was essential as the group worked to resolve conflicting priorities and make choices on how to allocate resources.  

West Michigan Regional Dashboard   
WMPA funded the creation of a dashboard of 32 indicators to measure the economic, social and environmental health of WMPA’s 13 counties individually as well as collectively.  The effort was directed by an advisory committee representing nine different organizations including Michigan Works, Grand Valley State University and the Upjohn Institute.  The Right Place, Inc., a regional economic development organization lead the data gathering and dashboard development process and will continue the data updating process until 2021.  The dashboard has its own publicly accessible website where organizations and individuals can access all the metrics at no cost and without a required login.   
 
Development of the West Michigan Watershed Collaborative and Sustainable Funding Strategy  
A working group consisting of staff from the Macatawa Area Coordinating Council (MACC), Grand Valley Metropolitan Council (GVMC), and the West Michigan Shoreline Regional Development Commission (WMSRDC) initiated dialogue with stakeholders from over forty watershed organizations in the 13-county WMPA area.  This dialogue resulted in the creation of the West Michigan Watershed Collaborative.  The working group, in partnership with members of the Collaborative, completed a comprehensive compilation of the watershed management work and financial needs of the various groups in the Collaborative.  The Collaborative, with assistance from a consultant, analyzed various potential funding mechanisms that could be utilized to achieve a sustainable funding stream to support and advance watershed protection and restoration goals.  Six structured/facilitated stakeholder meetings throughout the 13-county WMPA area to gather feedback on four potential watershed funding strategies were completed.  This information was used to develop a hybrid funding model that was presented to the watershed groups in the Collaborative.  Consensus was achieved to pursue implementation of the hybrid funding model and a document outlining necessary next steps was developed.  The Collaborative is organizing around these steps.

Port of Muskegon
The Port of Muskegon Regional Logistics Hub was identified as the number one priority project by WMPA in 2014.  The project received $32,500 from WMPA which helped to leverage an additional $32,500 of local matching funds for a U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration grant.  In total $125,000 was acquired to conduct the Port of Muskegon Infrastructure & Organizational Analysis.  A steering committee made up of local leaders and private port operators was formed to guide the process.  A consultant, Martin Associates was hired to prepare the study.  The study conducted an analysis of existing transportation infrastructure including water, road, rail, and air to assess the current condition and future capacity.  In addition, the study looked at multiple organizational models that would promote and advocate for waterborne transportation, as well as the development of a regional logistics hub.  The final document and executive summary can be found on the WMSRDC website at www.wmsrdc.org/programs/rpi
 
Connected Community Engagement Program
Connect Michigan, through its “Connected Community” methodology, assists communities to help improve the access, adoption and use of broadband technology.  Connect Michigan facilitates a Community Broadband Assessment to raise awareness of the current broadband environment within the community, followed by a Technology Action Planning process to establish actions and projects to improve broadband effectiveness in that community. 
 
With funding from WMPA, Connect Michigan has engaged all the counties in the WMPA region with nearly all having completed a Community Broadband Assessment and Technology Action Plan (with some counties having updated their original plan).  Other regional broadband activities such as gathering survey data on technology in local areas to improve future services and promoting provider-sponsored low-cost broadband programs have been completed.   

21st Century Infrastructure Asset Management Pilot Mini Grants - 72 Communities Participating  
WMPA is representing the west side of the state of Michigan in Governor Snyder’s 21st Century Infrastructure Asset Management Pilot.  In order to promote participation in the pilot by smaller communities which may not have access to GIS, or otherwise easily accessible, infrastructure data, $5,000 mini grants have been offered to help defray data collection costs.  At this time, 18 communities have filed mini grant requests, most of which would not have otherwise participated in the Pilot project. The Asset Management Pilot is a very important project which will help plan and manage infrastructure statewide in the future.  Participation in this pilot, as well as the cooperation, collaboration and relationships that have developed from it, are excellent examples of the types of successes WMPA was created to foster.  

Regional Utility Project  
WMPA joined a regional effort to assist a growing company addressing a waste disposal challenge with an underutilized waste disposal site.  The City of Muskegon leveraged WMPA funding with a private sector contribution to undertake preliminary design and engineering (PDE) work on a pipeline project that identifies the most feasible route option, conducts a pipe option evaluation and completes an environmental review of potential impacts.  The support from WMPA helped demonstrate the regional importance of the proposed pipeline which contributed to securing state funding for the project.      
 
Hardy Dam Trail Project  
WMPA joined Newaygo/Mecosta Counties and the Hardy Dam Trail Committee in their effort to construct a 47.5 mile mountain biking and pedestrian adventure loop trail.  The trail committee requested funding to complete an Environmental Assessment Plan (EAP).  The EAP was completed along with other required documents such as an Emergency Response/Incident Action Plan and Operations Plan.  Construction fundraising has begun and trail construction is expected to begin in spring 2019, pending Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approval. 
 
Grand River Revitalization and Rapids Restoration Effort  
WMPA is supporting Grand Rapids Whitewater (GRWW), the organization undertaking the transformation of the Grand River by restoring the rapids to the river in and around downtown Grand Rapids.  GRWW received funding to assist with communications, fundraising and other types of administrative support.  GRWW leveraged WMPA’s assistance to secure private funding and has engaged a communications firm to help with communication/public awareness.  In addition, organization and staff capacity was enhanced by retaining a fund development firm that will enable GRWW to manage ongoing development responsibilities. 

Regional Labor Market Report  
WMPA supported the development of the second annual regional labor market report, “West Michigan Talent Assessment and Outlook.” by Talent 2025.  The report looked at the job outlook in West Michigan through 2022 with a focus on the industries of agriculture, construction, energy, healthcare, information technology, and manufacturing. It also includes trend data on local demographics and community patterns. The report is used by educators, employers, and workforce leaders to invest in education and training programs to match current and future demand. A copy of the report can be found at www.talent2025.org.   
 
Michigan Work Ready Communities  
WMPA supported the development of a 3-6 month marketing plan and public awareness campaign to employer engagement in the Michigan Work Ready Communities Initiative and create a critical mass of employers across the region using the NCRC-National Career Readiness Certificate. 
 
Web Portals for Entrepreneurs  
WMPA contributed to the development of a web portal linking entrepreneurial support resources with entrepreneurial start-ups in the 13 county West Michigan region. 

Steering Committee

MPO and Planning Commissions

  • Grand Valley Metropolitan Council – John Weiss

  • Macatawa Area Coordinating Council – Steve Bulthuis

  • West Michigan Regional Planning Commission – Dave Bee

  • West Michigan Shoreline Regional Development Commission – Erin Kuhn

Economic Development Agencies

  • Barry County Economic Development Alliance –Open

  • Lakeshore Advantage –Jennifer Owens

  • Muskegon Area First – Darryl Todd

Workforce Development

  • West Michigan Works! – Jacob Maas

  • Michigan Works! West Central – Paul Griffith

Higher Education

  • Muskegon Community College – Dan Rinsema-Sybenga

  • Grand Rapids Community College – Amy Koning

  • West Shore Community College – Crystal Young

Adult Education

  • Allegan Adult and Alternative Ed - Brenda Nyhof

  • Holland/Zeeland Adult Education – Michael O’Connor

  • Kent ISD - Pat Walstra

Community Development

  • 8Cap - Dan Peterson

  • Muskegon-Oceana Community Action Partnership - Kiesha Guy

  • Paula Huyser – Ottawa County

Other Members

  • Michigan Department of Transportation – Erick Kind

  • Talent 2025 – Kevin Stotts

  • West Michigan Chamber Alliance – Andy Johnston

  • GVSU - Simone Jonaitis

  • Kathy MacLean - Ludington / Scottville Chamber of Commerce

  • Mecosta County Development Corporation – Jim Sandy

  • The Right Place, Inc. - Rick Chapla

  • Jim Fisher

Philanthropic

  • Bob Chapla - Community Foundation for Muskegon County

  • Bonnie Gettys - Barry Community Foundation

This type of integrated and collaborative planning effort has never been undertaken before in the 13-County Region 4.  However, the design and efforts of the West Michigan Strategic Alliance certainly inspired in-part the Governor’s vision for greater regional collaboration among the many organizations that impact economic development efforts.  This initial planning effort can and should set the stage for an even bigger initiative in the future, especially involving private sector interests who need to embrace and support the value of this type of initiative as essential to their economic success.

This planning initiative is voluntary and not mandated by any legislation or executive order issued by the Governor or anyone else.  Our success will be determined by an openness to listen, learn and consider doing economic development differently than in the past.  The stage is being set for a high profile, public process that results in greater service delivery efficiency, a better trained work force, and new entrepreneurial efforts.

West Michigan Regional Dashboard

 
 

Dashboard

Measurements of Success

Balanced Representation of Sectors......................................................................................All Sectors Represented Proportionately

Ratio of Grant Funding Raised to Prosperity Grant.............................................................Focus Effort in 2015. Current Pledge $5,000

Number of People Involved......................................................................................................500 +

Creation of Ongoing Communications Program..................................................................Communications Plan

Hours Participants Send Working Together..........................................................................Approx. 100+

Jointly Supporting Each Other's Grant Efforts......................................................................Assisting with Other Issues ie: Michigan Works

Potential Meetings with Surrounding Councils....................................................................Met with All Regions 7/29/2014

Number of Endorsements by Regional Partners of 5-Year Plan........................................Oct. 10, 2014 - Endorsed by All Partners

Development of Potential List to Benchmark Region.........................................................

Successful Development & Potential Implementation of 5 Prosperity Projects............Completed Oct. 10, 2014

Creation of Interest to Continue Prosperity Initiative Work Into the Future................All Members are Interested in Continuing. Possibly Adding Non-Profit Foundation

Completion of the Grant Requirements................................................................................Completed

Meetings & Minutes

2018

 

2/19/18 - Steering Committee    Agenda | Minutes

3/19/18 - Executive Committee Agenda Minutes

4/16/18 - Steering Committee    Agenda | Cancelled

6/18/18 - Steering Committee    Agenda | Minutes

8/20/18 - Executive Committee  Agenda | Minutes

2017

03/20/17 - Executive Committee  Agenda | Minutes

04/17/17 - Steering Committee    Agenda | Minutes

05/15/17 - Executive Committee  Agenda | Minutes

08/25/17 - Steering Committee    Agenda | Minutes

10/16/17 - Steering Committee    Agenda | Minutes

2016

02/15/16 - Steering Committee    Agenda | Minutes

04/18/16 - Steering Committee    Agenda | Minutes

05/16/16 - Steering Committee    Agenda | Minutes

06/20/16 - Steering Committee    Agenda | Minutes

08/15/16 - Steering Committee    Agenda | Minutes

09/19/16 - Executive Committee  Agenda | Minutes

10/03/16 - Public Engagement      Agenda | Minutes

10/11/16 - Executive Committee  Agenda | Minutes

10/17/16 - Steering Committee    Agenda | Minutes

11/21/16 - Executive Committee  Agenda | Minutes

2015

01/29/15 - Steering Committee   Agenda | Minutes

02/19/15 - Steering Committee   Agenda | Minutes

03/03/15 - Education & Economic Summit   Minutes

04/28/15 - Steering Committee   Agenda | Minutes

06/22/15 - Steering Committee    Agenda | Minutes

07/22/15 - Steering Committee   Agenda | Minutes

09/30/15 - Steering Committee   Agenda | Minutes

11/4/15 - Steering Committee     Agenda | Minutes

2014

01/14/14 - Steering Committee   Agenda | Minutes

01/28/14 - Plan Subcommittee   Agenda | Minutes

02/27/14 - Steering Committee   Agenda | Minutes

03/17/14 - General Session Planning   Agenda | Minutes

04/30/14 - Steering Committee   Agenda | Minutes

05/29/14 - Steering Committee   Agenda | MinutesHandouts

06/06/14 - Steering Committee   Agenda | Minutes

07/29/14 - Michigan Association of Regions   Agenda | Minutes

07/31/14 - Steering Committee   Agenda | Minutes | Handouts

08/05/14 - General Session Planning    Agenda | Minutes

08/18/14 - Steering Committee   Agenda | Minutes

09/25/14 - Steering Committee   Agenda | Minutes

09/26/14 - General Session Planning    Agenda | Minutes

10/10/14 - Steering Committee    Agenda | Minutes

10/10/14 - General Session Planning    Agenda | Minutes

12/09/14 - Executive Committee   Agenda | Minutes