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Growth & Investment

Communities in northern Michigan continue to grapple with growth and development issues. Networks Northwest develops tools that assist communities in local decision-making and offers technical assistance to local governments and non-profit agencies working on community planning and development issues.

2021 Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) 

As part of our work with the  Economic Development Administration (EDA), Networks Northwest updates the Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) every five years. A CEDS is a strategy-driven plan for regional economic development and is the result of a regionally owned planning process designed to build capacity and guide the economic prosperity and resilience of an area or region. The 2021 CEDS Document and accompanying appendices can be accessed by clicking on the links below.

For more information about the region's economic development strategy, please contact Robert Carson, Regional Director of Community Development, at 231.929.5057.

2021 CEDS 

Appendix A Task Force Development CEDS Process

Appendix B County Maps

Appendix C County Level Data

Appendix D Inflow _ Outflow of Wages and Employees

Appendix E Location Quotient

Appendix F Shift-Share Analysis

Appendix G Retail Gaps

Appendix H SWOT Analysis Results

Appendix I Goals _ Objectives

A Framework for Growth & investment in Northwest Michigan


Developed as part of the Framework for Our Future: A Regional Prosperity Plan for Northwest Michigan, it includes information that can serve as a compilation of best practices to help local decisionmakers and stakeholders who would like to address the issues identified in the Framework to meet their communities’ diverse growth and investment needs.  

A Framework for Growth & Investment in Northwest Michigan



Economic Development Projects

Networks Northwest periodically submits a project listing to the US Department of Commerce - Economic Development Administration (EDA) as part of the region's Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS).

Projects must be listed in the region's CEDS to qualify for EDA funding in the coming year. Having your project listed in the CEDS does not constitute an application or assurance of funding, but it is a pre-requisite for consideration of funding.

For more information, please contact:

Matt McCauley, Networks Northwest
Contact Form

Region 2 CDC

The Region 2 Collaborative Development Council is made up of local economic developers, planners, workforce agencies and a variety of other stakeholders from the 10 counties across northwest lower Michigan which make up Region 2 of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation’s (MEDC) Collaborative Development Council. In addition to local stakeholders, state departments such as MDOT, MDARD, and MDNR are represented. This group is convened and represented by the Northwest Michigan Council of Governments at monthly MEDC CDC meetings. 

Map of Michigan’s Collaborative Development Councils (CDCs) can be found at:

Recent activities of the MEDC’s CDC can be found at: cdcdocs/#mar27

The Region 2 CDC Full Group meets on a quarterly basis. The Region 2 CDC Leadership Group meets monthly, along with MEDC staff, and is comprised of executives from the following agencies:

Alliance for Economic Success
Northwest Michigan Works!
Venture North
Northern Lakes Economic Alliance
Networks Northwest

For more information regarding the CDC Leadership Group
or the CDC Full Group
, please contact:

Matt McCauley, Networks Northwest
Contact Form


Guides to Permitting and Zoning

The primary goals of the Guides are to both act as a quick reference as well as educate individuals, seasoned contractors, and developers with the know-how needed to access critical information in the approval process prior to applying for permits or undertaking a project within a county or municipality. The applicant or contractor should always contact the local zoning administrator, plan reviewer, or permit agent of the various agencies prior to beginning a project.

Revised Spring 2021:

Antrim County Guide to Permitting and Zoning

Benzie County Guide to Permitting and Zoning 

Charlevoix County Guide to Permitting and Zoning

Emmet County Guide to Permitting and Zoning

Grand Traverse County Guide to Permitting and Zoning

Kalkaska County Guide to Permitting and Zoning

Leelanau County Guide to Permitting and Zoning

Manistee County Guide to Permitting and Zoning 

Missaukee County Guide to Permitting and Zoning

Wexford County Guide to Permitting and Zoning

A Citizen's Guide to Planning & Zoning in Northwest Michigan

A Citizen’s Guide to Planning is a supplement to the New Designs for Growth Guidebook and is intended to provide basic information to citizens that haven’t been closely involved in the planning process but would like to shape future changes in their community. This is introductory information only.

New Designs for Growth is a program designed to help guide the region’s growth and development according to the ten tenets of smart growth. Implementation and outreach aspects of the New Designs for Growth program is administered by Networks Northwest.  

A Citizen's Guide to Planning & Zoning in Northwest Michigan (PDF)


Placemaking in Northern Michigan

Placemaking is a community-based approach involving the discovery and implementation of practices that make our communities distinctive, economically viable, accessible, and visually pleasing. Placemaking capitalizes on a local community's assets, inspiration and potential, creating good public spaces that promote people's health, happiness, and economic well-being.

The Community Placemaking Guidebook is designed to empower local citizens and unique collaborative groups in communities across northwest lower Michigan with the community pride and Placemaking toolkit that offers critical approaches to creating and managing successful public spaces. The level of a community’s local pride plays a significant role in the quality and maintenance of local places, an overall sense of place and identity, and ultimately economic prosperity in the global economy.




Networks Northwest always proves to be a valued resource for our local government planning efforts. No organization does a better job of convening partners, promoting collaboration, and reporting on the data than does Networks Northwest

Ty Wessell, Leelanau County Commissioner