Economic Development and Government

Council submits prosperity grant application

Next step is to create a new prosperity alliance.

November 22, 2013
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It’s quite a major undertaking. In fact, the geographic region involved is about the size of New Jersey. Whether the amount of money that is involved will be worth the effort is another story, however, and only time will write that one.

Still, the Grand Valley Metro Council accepted its role as the program’s fiduciary agent and has recently filed its application for the region’s $250,000 grant through the statewide Regional Prosperity Initiative, an economic development plan Gov. Rick Snyder unveiled in August.

GMVC Executive Director John Weiss said the agency’s regional service area is one of the largest in the state. It stretches across 13 counties and contains 340 local governments, six work-force boards, two regional planning agencies, three rural transportation task forces, and “many” economic development and nonprofit organizations.

“The area serves over 1.4 million citizens. Geographically, it is roughly the size of New Jersey,” he said.

Weiss also said the goal of the grant, which is expected to be awarded in January, is to create a West Michigan Prosperity Alliance. The Alliance then will develop a five-year prosperity plan for the 13-county region.

“In addition, there will be three large regional conversations planned with representatives from throughout West Michigan working together to nominate and select five projects of regional economic significance,” he said.

Weiss added that more than 90 organizations, including local governments, nonprofits and private companies, endorsed the GVMC grant application. “The support at times was overwhelming and showed the true spirit of cooperation that exists throughout our region,” he said.

“Even though the grants are not going to be awarded until January, our plan is to be ready to begin work as soon as the grant is announced.”

Snyder unveiled the initiative as a way to make the state more economically competitive globally. His idea behind it is to grow the state’s economy through regional collaboration.

“We recognize that local partners, not Lansing, are best equipped to create strong regional strategies for prosperity,” said Snyder when he introduced the regional plan. “By supporting our local partners and their visions for vibrant economies, we can help put them in the best positions for long-term success.”

Although 85 state government service areas overlap in the 13-county West Michigan region, the governor said in August that the creation of regional prosperity alliances would not add another layer of bureaucracy to the development process.

“This is about the most efficient and effective use of limited resources,” said Snyder. “This is a new, collaborative model that can bring existing groups together to better leverage local and regional assets. This result is a more globally competitive Michigan.”

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