The web Browser you are currently using is unsupported, and some features of this site may not work as intended. Please update to a modern browser such as Chrome, Firefox or Edge to experience all features Michigan.gov has to offer.
Roadmap to Rural Prosperity Released to Equip Michigan’s Rural Communities with Strategies to Build Long-Term Prosperity
January 19, 2024
Michigan’s Office of Rural Prosperity releases the State’s first-ever report focused on the challenges rural communities face and how to overcome them
Lansing, Mich.—Today, the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity’s (LEO) Office of Rural Prosperity released the Michigan Roadmap to Rural Prosperity, a first-ever report from the State of Michigan that focuses on the challenges rural communities face and strategies to collectively build long-term prosperity in rural areas across the state.
The Roadmap’s vision for rural prosperity centers on a future of resilient, connected rural residents, businesses, communities and natural environments. This vision hinges on the close and continuous collaboration between state agencies, decisionmakers and rural communities and leaders to address the complex, structural, long-term challenges that our communities face.
“Rural Michigan is home to unparalleled natural landscapes and resources; unique, small towns that are hubs for entrepreneurship; a workforce known for its hard work and innovation; and so much more that makes it truly special,” said Susan Corbin, LEO director. “The Roadmap synthesizes the diverse, statewide feedback received from rural residents, the rural workforce, and rural businesses to build understanding and awareness of the most pressing issues communities face. It calls attention to the central role rural communities play in driving not just their own economies, but the state and nation’s future prosperity.”
The Michigan Office of Rural Prosperity led extensive community engagement to inform the Roadmap, reaching more than 2,400 rural residents through a statewide survey and hundreds of rural community leaders through regional events, issue-specific roundtables and one-on-one conversations.
By synthesizing input from rural residents and community leaders on key rural challenges and opportunities, the Roadmap aims to give voice to rural communities, foster a statewide understanding of rural needs and priorities and help guide local, regional and state leaders in advancing collaborative and collective action to achieve prosperity across rural Michigan.
“The Office of Rural Prosperity recognizes the complex and nuanced reality of rural Michigan: rural communities are poised for unprecedented opportunity throughout the state but must prepare for those opportunities strategically and deliberately to be successful,” said Sarah Lucas, director of the Michigan Office of Rural Prosperity. “Coordinated, strategic action is needed among all partners working towards rural prosperity in Michigan, and we’re excited to offer a vision for that action and collaboration with the Roadmap to Rural Prosperity.”
Each section of the Roadmap highlights a priority issue area for rural Michigan, discussing the factors that impact rural prosperity and presents strategies to help all rural areas thrive. Because a one-size-fits-all approach to addressing community challenges would leave many communities behind, the Roadmap’s strategies center around solutions that can be scaled to respond to needs and opportunities identified by rural communities through regular, ongoing, two-way engagement and inclusive decision-making. Strategies include:
- Grow and diversify the workforce across sectors
- Improve individual health and economic well-being
- Support local and regional capacity to deliver services
- Expand quality and attainable housing opportunities
- Build and maintain resilient infrastructure
- Enhance regionally driven and place-based economic development efforts
- Protect, conserve, and be a responsible steward of natural assets
“No strategy can – or should – be one size fits all, and this roadmap weaves together not only strategies for rural communities to proactively address their future prosperity, but also illustrates how these strategies are interrelated,” said Senior Director of Community Development at Right Place, Travis Alden. “Typically, the smaller the community, the bigger the capacity gap to really take full advantage of the myriad opportunities that exist. That’s where this kind of real-world guidance can really assist local leaders and collaborative partners – including economic development organizations like us - in making meaningful, positive and catalytic impacts in their communities.”
Learn more about the Michigan Roadmap to Rural Prosperity by visiting Michigan.gov/ORP.