Environmental Stewardship and Economic Opportunity in Northwestern Lower Michigan’s Coastal Cities and Villages
Networks Northwest, formerly Northwest Michigan Council of Governments, received a grant from the Michigan Coastal Management Program to implement an environmental stewardship and economic opportunity in the eleven coastal communities in the ten county region. Coastal hubs are the critical local economies in the region and strategies are needed to restore, protect and enhance the environment while simultaneously creating a high quality of life that is competitive at attracting talent and knowledge, high-value tourism, retirees and general economic development opportunities.
This Networks Northwest project focuses on the regional population centers along the Lake Michigan coastline to assess the current level of coastal environmental stewardship and train the communities on best management practices that enhance and protect the natural resources, and how the health of their resources play a key role in future economic development strategies.
The eleven (11) coastal cities and incorporated villages
in the Networks Northwest region include the following:
(seven communities are in The Grand Vision region)
The approach of community engagement and content of the training programs for this project fundamentally promote principles of sustainable development.
Essential Elements of the Project
Perform stewardship assessments for each coastal city and village to benchmark the current level of environmental stewardship of the natural resources and the overall community health. Examples of assessment topics include: green infrastructure (stormwater, open space, public access, trails, wetlands, etc.), natural hazards, point discharges, solid waste management, energy production and use, business practices such as ISO 14,000 or environmental management systems, contaminated designated areas, brownfields, etc.
Present the Environmental Stewardship Assessments to the city and village officials and staff
Create an Economic Development Strategy based on protecting the natural resources. An educational work session will be held for city and village officials and staff, citizens, agencies, economic development organizations, businesses and local organizations that is focused on the value, benefits and strategies associated with leveraging an environmentally healthy coastal community to increase sustainable economic opportunities, create a sense of place, and attract and retain talent.
Provide technical assistance to each community to help them adopt policies and implement actions to protect and enhance environmental quality and create and implement sustainable place-based economic development strategies.
Create a regional report that provides the environmental quality benchmarks and stewardship status of each coastal community, accompanied by a one-stop-shop of coastal best practices and relevant sustainable economic development strategies that can be leveraged from a high quality coastal resource base. Also, create a general implementation strategy for the best management practices.