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Office of Rural Development


The Office of Rural Development will have the following responsibilities, among others:

  • Collaborate with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and other stakeholders on rural economic development;
  • Collaborate with the Michigan State Housing Development Authority to facilitate rural affordable housing development;
  • Promote sustainability, environmental preservation, and green energy development;
  • Address the ramifications of population and demographic trends in rural Michigan;
  • Analyze and provide guidance on education-related issues affecting rural communities;
  • Collaborate with the Michigan High-Speed Internet Office to facilitate expansion of high-speed internet connections in rural communities; and,
  • Coordinate with tribal leaders in this state on issues facing rural Michigan.

Meet the Office of Rural Development

In January 2022, Governor Gretchen Whitmer established the Office of Rural Development within MDARD via Executive Directive 2022-01 to focus on the strategic needs of rural Michigan, including economic and workforce development, infrastructure, public health, and environmental sustainability.

MDARD Director Gary McDowell Selects Sarah Lucas as Deputy of the Newly Created Office of Rural Development (3/15/22)

Sarah Lucas Headshot (for media download only)

If you’re looking to contact the Office of Rural Development, please send an email to

News Releases 

PHOTO RELEASE: MDARD Director Gary McDowell & Deputy Director of Office of Rural Development Sarah Lucas Hold Roundtable to Discuss Rural Priorities (5/11/22)

Other Rural Development Resources

MDARD Grant and Funding Opportunities

Michigan Food and Agriculture Jobs and Careers

Federal Information and Resources