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MDARD Awards 21 Grants to Advance Housing, Infrastructure, and Economic Development in Rural Michigan Communities

LANSING, Mich. - The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development s (MDARD) Office of Rural Development (ORD) is awarding 21 grants totaling more than $1 million through its Rural Readiness Grant Program to support pre-development activities to expedite housing production, infrastructure improvements, and bolster rural economies.

"These grants represent a critical step forward in addressing the significant housing, infrastructure, and other challenges facing our rural communities," said MDARD Director Tim Boring. "With Governor Whitmer s continued budget investments and MSHDA s partnership, MDARD and ORD can expand our reach even further as Michigan makes ongoing progress with high-speed internet infrastructure, affordable housing, and wastewater capacity expansion. ORD is the state's leading voice in rural development and these investments are another step in building the long-term vitality of those local economies."

ORD received over 90 requests totaling more than $4.3 million. Nearly a third of total requests focused on projects aiming at expediting housing production in rural communities a top rural priority. In response to significant demand for housing support, the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA) provided a grant to ORD to advance additional housing-related projects in alignment with the Statewide Housing Plan. This additional investment brought total awards to just over $1 million.

"Economic success in rural Michigan requires communities to plan and collaborate with partners for new projects, grants, and investment and many communities lack the organizational capacity to engage in that kind of planning," said Sarah Lucas, ORD director. "As a new resource for Michigan, we are thrilled to be able to support those activities. With ORD funding and in partnership with MSHDA, we're able to fund projects that prepare communities for the kinds of investment that will address priorities around housing, industry, infrastructure, and other community goals."

The following communities were awarded grants:

  • Allegan County Community Foundation- (Allegan County) - $50,000 for a multi-jurisdictional housing needs assessment and data-informed development.
  • Chamber Alliance of Mason County - (Mason County) - $50,000 for cross-sector, multi-jurisdictional housing readiness activities including community education on a housing needs assessment, work with local governments on zoning and incentives, and county-wide identification of development opportunities.
  • Charter Township of Union - (Isabella County) - $45,000 to expand industrial/research/business park development along the US-127 corridor. 
  • Develop Iosco - (Iosco County) - $50,000 to build cross-sector community capacity for grant-ready projects.
  • City of Durand (Shiawassee County) - $49,200 to prepare and advance pedestrian safety strategies. 
  • Fremont Area Community Foundation- (Newago County) - $50,000 to complete a comprehensive multi-community individualized growth assessment that informs customized community plans.
  • Habitat for Humanity of Lenawee County - (Lenawee County) - $50,000 for expansion of a home repair program.
  • Huron County Economic Development Corporation (Huron County) - $50,000 to build county-wide capacity for grant identification, writing, and management. 
  • Interlochen Center for the Arts - (Grand Traverse County) - $50,000 for housing pre-development activities in partnership with regional schools and other community partners.
  • City of Ionia - (Ionia County) - $50,000 for pre-development activities associated with the redevelopment of the former Deerfield and Riverside Correctional Facilities. 
  • City of Ironwood - (Gogebic County) - $50,000 for a housing needs assessment and strategic housing plan. 
  • Village of Mackinaw City - (Emmet and Cheboygan counties) - $37,800 to prepare and package village-owned parcels for housing redevelopment.
  • Market Van Buren - (Van Buren County) - $50,000 for county-wide housing market analysis and strategic housing plan.
  • Marquette County Land Bank Authority- (Marquette County) - $50,000 to identify and advance shovel-ready housing projects. 
  • Northeast Michigan Council of Governments - (Alcona, Alpena, Cheboygan, Crawford, Montmorency, Oscoda, Otsego, Presque Isle counties) - $50,000 to support local governments with applying for, coordinating, and administering grant projects that prioritize identified economic development and planning projects. 
  • Peninsula Housing - (Leelanau County) - $50,000 to create a community-supported development plan for affordable housing solutions. 
  • City of Petoskey - (Emmett County) - $50,000 for a multi-jurisdictional water and wastewater infrastructure expansion assessment.
  • Target Alpena Development Corporation - (Alpena, Alcona, and Presque Isle counties) - $50,000 to support collaborative planning and action for housing inclusivity, affordability, revitalization, and sustainable growth. 
  • Western U.P. Planning and Development Region Commission (Baraga County) - $50,000 to activate the L'Anse Area Community Development Corporation and prepare for development and redevelopment on priority properties.
  • Wexford Joint Planning Commission - (Wexford County) - $25,000 to support joint planning and zoning efforts that build readiness across 10 townships. 
  • Wexford Osceola Habitat For Humanity (Wexford and Osceola counties,) - $50,000 for pre-development activities associated with multi-home development in two counties.

Grant applications were reviewed by a joint evaluation committee in a competitive scoring process which made recommendations to the MDARD Director for selection of award recipients. Projects were reviewed based on scoring criteria addressing key priorities including collaboration, community need, project impact, and project structure in regions throughout Michigan. Awarded projects will prepare communities for future investment and grants by activating specific sites throughout Michigan for housing and economic development, providing resources to build grant writing capacity among local governments and nonprofits, engaging multiple communities in collaborative planning and zoning processes, and providing detailed data, plans, and strategies to guide collaborative county efforts to plan for housing.

For more information on the Office of Rural Development s grant program is available online at