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Growth and Investment

Growth & Investment Areas

To identify communities within Northwest Michigan that are prepared for new development, a community asset inventory was conducted by NWMCOG, now Networks Northwest, in 2010 in conjunction with the Growth and Investment Network. The survey collected responses from cities, incorporated and unincorporated villages, townships, and planned growth areas in Northwest Michigan. Survey results were used to develop criteria for selecting areas from the region that were best positioned to accommodate future growth patterns anticipated for Northwest Michigan over the next 25 years. While many assets are needed for new growth and investment, there are 5 essential criteria common to communities throughout the nation that support growth and investment potential. These 5 criteria were used in the selection of areas for additional analysis regarding growth and investment readiness, trends, and capabilities:
  • Operational municipal water system
  • Operational municipal sewer system
  • Adopted mater plan that recommends a defined higher density downtown core for development and investment
  • Zoning ordinance that codifies higher density development in the downtown core
  • Available governmental officials and staff to create effective growth- and investment-oriented policies and efficiently process requests and permits
The inventory was updated in 2012 with respect to these five criteria and then used to select 31 initial Growth & Investment areas for further study.

List of Growth & Investment Areas for Northwest Michigan

Map of Growth & Investment Areas for Northwest Michigan


Commercial Corridors

In order to gauge community growth patterns, economic activity, and policy impacts on growth and investment, Networks Northwest conducted studies of the 31 identified growth and investment areas, using data from HUD, DOT, EPA, and the US Census, public and commercial data sources, and stakeholder interviews. All units of government were interviewed regarding community planning, land use, capital improvements, transportation, infrastructure, and community marketing policies. Interviews were conducted using a checklist tool called the Commercial Corridor Inventory, which was designed to be objective and focused on current attributes, rather than future plans. Commercial corridors were identified by the units of government based on their own criteria for significance to their community.


Growth & Investment Area Studies / Commercial Corridor Inventories

Antrim County

Benzie County

Charlevoix County

Emmet County

Grand Traverse County

Kalkaska County

Leelanau County

Manistee County

Missaukee County

Wexford County




The professionals at Networks Northwest help our City Council, Planning Commission, and staff make thoughtful decisions to ensure our community is sustainable and resilient for many years to come.

Mark Heydlauff, Charlevoix City Manager