Energy efficiency puts our contractors to work; boosts local retail sales; keeps more of residents’ hard-earned dollars in town; increases property values; makes the community more attractive; and by lowering overall energy demand, slows the rise of everyone’s energy costs. Two years ago, Traverse City started down that path. Its publicly owned utility, Traverse City Light & Power, teamed up with the Michigan Land Use Institute, SEEDS, the Department of Energy, Michigan Saves, and local contractors to launch TCSaves—a one-stop, wildly successful program that convinced a remarkable one in every five homeowners in the city to invest in their home’s comfort and efficiency. Click here to view the report.
This report investigates another crucial but often-overlooked aspectof energy efficiency: its power to stimulate local economic development. A properly designed, communitywide energy efficiency program can increase local employment, produce new business activity, exert downward pressure on local energy prices, capture and keep “energy dollars” in the local economy, make the wider community more attractive to families and businesses, and reduce climate-changing greenhouse gases. Click here to view the report.
Traverse City Light & Power is at a critical crossroad. At the end of 2014, a coal- red contract that supplies half of the utility’s power expires. A new study commissioned by the utility finds that TCL&P must generate 30 to 39 megawatts of new power by 2028 to satisfy the needs of its customers. How will TCL&P fill the gap? TCL&P has committed to leading the state’s shift away from importing and burning fossil fuels, particularly coal, for electricity; its goal is 30 percent renewable energy by 2020. Currently, 99 percent of TCL&P’s energy comes from fossil fuels. We strongly support TCLP’s renewable energy efforts. Click here to view the report.
This white paper provides citizens and civic leaders guidance in understanding and responding to Aubrey McClendon’s speculative investment, and what it likely means for the Saugatuck Dunes coastal region. The paper describes the market and demographic trends that are writing a new narrative for four townships and two towns along the Lake Michigan shoreline in Allegan County; that narrative differs sharply from the vision described in the region’s Tri-Community Comprehensive Plan. Click here to view the report.
A brownfield redevelopment guide for northern Michigan's coastal communities. Many well-meaning government programs inadvertently generate unintended consequences. In the early 1980s, few such consequences stirred as much civic reaction in Michigan as the federal Superfund law and its state-level twin, the Michigan Environmental Response Act. Both statutes, which considered public health, chemistry, risk analysis, and regulation in entirely new ways, compelled manufacturers to greatly improve their waste disposal practices. Both also required companies to clean up their toxic messes, which contaminated an estimated 500,000 sites nationally. Click here to view the report.
What's good for the water is good for Michigan's economy. In the race to attract talented workers and lure new economic opportunities, one of Michigan’s great advantages is a robust water supply. As Ohio Governor Bob Taft put it: “Living in one of the Great Lakes states is a bit like winning the lottery. The jackpot is 20 percent of the world’s fresh surface water. That’s an incredibly valuable resource right here on our doorstep.” The big question is whether Michigan has the creativity, smarts, and will to base its economic future on a resource that most residents take for granted. Click here to view the report.
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources proposes to build a boat launch this spring that provides Benzie County residents and visitors improved access to Crystal Lake. The Michigan Land Use Institute supports the general thrust of the state’s proposal because public boat access to Crystal Lake is currently limited, and because the magnificent lake belongs to all of the state’s people, who should always be able to enjoy it. Click here to view the report.
In the 1960s the Cuyahoga River was the national poster child for the country’s severe lack of modern clean water laws. The river, which flows through northeast Ohio, had a 33-year history of catching fire due to the extraordinary amounts of pollution and floating debris choking its waters. Since then, improved water quality standards have helped to partially cleanse the river. But the Cuyahoga is still a poster child: It dramatically demonstrates the pressing need for better safeguarding Great Lakes water quantity. Click here to view the report.
Rainfall and snowmelt replenish each year only about one percent of the water in the lakes, rivers, and aquifers that make up the Great Lakes basin. The other 99 percent of water in the basin is finite and nonrenewable. The five freshwater seas that define the Great Lakes basin make up one of the greatest natural wonders of the world. Nowhere else on earth does the map turn so blue with water or the lives of so many people revolve around its gifts. Click here to view the report.
Michigan’s wild, wooded rivers are among the state’s most treasured natural features and most valuable natural resources. People across the state speak proudly of the Au Sable, the Betsie, the Two-Hearted, the Pere Marquette, and other hallowed waterways as if they flowed through their own backyards. Michigan’s natural river systems support entire regions they cross. Riverbank vegetation filters pollution and protects water quality. And natural river lands stimulate local economies with fish, wildlife, scenic beauty, and an attractive quality of life. Click here to view the report. Click here to view the report.
Groundwork Center for Resilient Communities, working to protect the environment, strengthen the economy, and build community, is pleased to share this 15-year anniversary report about our farm to school work in northwest Michigan and beyond. It is not just our story, but the story of countless people who have built robust connections between farm and school to the bene t of kids’ health and local economies. Click here to view the report.
A mid-year report to the state legislature on the 10 Cents a Meal for School Kids & Farms incentive procurement pilot program. This popular program is providing schools with up to 10 cents per meal in match funding to purchase and serve Michigan-grown fruits, vegetables, and legumes to an estimated 48,000 students in 16 grant-winning school districts. The funding is actually somewhat less than 10 cents per meal because we pro-rated the amounts we provided in order to assure as many districts and students could be served as possible. Click here to view the report.
Agriculture contributes substantially to the economy of the six-county northwest Lower Michigan region. Ample opportunities also exist to significantly expand its economic footprint. Click here to view the report.
Lee Arboreal’s family and farm are growing. Comfortably profitable now in their fifth growing season, Lee and wife Laurie are adding blueberries, blackberries, cows, turkeys, and goats to their 40-acre place, just outside of Bangor in southwest Michigan’s famous fruit region. That’s a major milestone for a young farm family that started out with crops like lettuce and carrots, which produce quick cash in just one year. Click here to view the report.
Determined efforts to increase sales of fresh, local foods in Michigan could significantly boost employment and personal income across the state, according to a new study by university and nonprofit researchers. Click here to view the report.
From Manistee to Mackinac, residents and tourists spend nearly $900 million each year on food and drink. If just 5 percent of that went to locally made products, a new $45 million market would open up for area food and farm businesses. The Taste the Local Difference project works to make that happen. It is a collaborative effort of regional, community-based organizations to grow jobs, save farmland, and build healthier communities by opening new markets for food that’s thousands of miles fresher. Click here to view the report.
A new brand of farming is revolutionizing Michigan agriculture as families capitalize on fresh marketing opportunities. Communities that lend them business assistance can win jobs, save farmland, and secure Michigan’s food supply. Click here to view the report.
There are many reasons why the Grand Traverse region is such a great place—not the least of which is its strong sense of community and “can do” spirit. The area has a proud history of identifying priorities and acting on them. One emerging priority is passenger rail. Click here to view the report.
Poverty, planning and a vision for community-wide success. As the Grand Traverse region implements The Grand Vision, it must complement ongoing efforts in northwest Lower Michigan to fight poverty. Click here to view the report.
The Grand Vision recognized the importance of improving public transportation services between towns and cities. Fixed-route bus service will increase bus ridership throughout the Grand Traverse region. Providing commuters with fast, efficient, reliable transportation. Click here to view the report.
Hot new ‘old-style’ neighborhoods can protect Up North's beauty and prosperity. Sherry Constantine thinks that she and her husband, Steve, have added another 10 years to their lives by moving to Midtown, a new neighborhood in the heart of Traverse City. Click here to view the report.
State spending is an important cause of Michigan’s sprawling patterns of development and its many ugly side effects—urban decay, environmental degradation, poor public transportation services, and increased hardships for people in general and those with disabilities in particular. Our findings, the culmination of a peculiar sort of fiscal archaeology, confirm that conviction. Sifting through dozens of local and state spending accounts, we found that a significant portion of the billion the state spends each year in taxpayer-supported economic development programs—a system of grants, subsidies, tax abatements and incentives, loans, bonds, and direct outlays—is giving Michigan one of the nation’s worst cases of sprawl. Click here to view the report.
With its sweeping rooflines and red brick, the new Holt High School is a shining example of the latest in school design. The $67 million facility opened in the formerly rural community outside of Lansing last fall; voters approved the millage increase to pay for it by just seven votes. Thanks to a sewer extension installed to serve the school, houses are sprouting nearby in what used to be farm fields. Click here to view the report.