Go! Baraga County is a strategic plan for job creation in Baraga County, Michigan.
A draft of Go! Baraga County, the Baraga County Strategic Plan begun in fall 2012, has been completed. Click here to view the document (PDF file). This draft is not final. Additional community information and methods for evaluating progress will be added.
This is the time to build support for the strategies and ensure a sense of local ownership. To see ways that you might be able to participate in implementing the strategies, and to indicate any desire to do so, please click here to respond to a brief (five-minute) questionnaire.
Information about each of the strategies follows…
The first strategy is to expand and capitalize on local healthcare services. Baraga County Memorial Hospital and other providers have much opportunity and potential to expand services, prevent leakage from the local healthcare market, and capture additional market share.
The second strategy is to extend infrastructure to the Lambert Road Industrial Park. This park, due to a competitive location and high demand, is ripe for development. Funding from the U.S. Economic Development Administration is vital to making this project happen. The Village of L’Anse and Western Upper Peninsula Planning & Development Region (WUPPDR) are its top supporters.
The third strategy is to increase local food production and develop a regional distribution point for local produce. Farming of fish in an environmentally sustainable closed system presents a related opportunity. These activities would align with the U.P. Food Exchange, a local food distribution initiative that is in need of a base of operations in the Western U.P. Any food produced in Baraga County would be given a unique brand that outside purchasers would associate with the county.
Finally, two supporting strategies are included to reflect recent economic development initiatives in the community. The first is establishment of permanent economic development staff in the county. The second is development of an entrepreneurial center at the Keweenaw Bay Ojibwa Community College campus in L’Anse.
Go! Baraga County is an effort to move Baraga County forward by creating jobs and assuring this remains a great place to live, work, and play. Residents and community leaders are united in developing a Strategic Plan for economic development. The outcome of the plan will be a small number of strategies and projects that can be implemented through a realistic work plan – one that will not sit on a shelf.
Several similar plans and studies have been done in Baraga County over the last two decades, but results have been hard to come by. Unemployment remains the highest, or nearly so, in Michigan. Based on a countywide survey in late 2012, which received 836 responses (695 from Baraga County residents, constituting 7.8 percent of the population), 58 percent of residents see the County economy as declining, and 76 percent see its current state as negative (between “neutral” and “desperate”).
The focus of planning this time has been to identify and recognize the county’s assets in the context of accomplishing projects with community ownership that can be put into place using existing resources. The narrow focus on a few realistic, carefully researched projects will make the plan’s strategies attainable.
The Go! Baraga County Strategic Plan is funded by the United States Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration (EDA), Baraga County, and the Western Upper Peninsula Planning and Development Region (WUPPDR).
Please contact us with comments or for more information.