What is Go! Baraga County?
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 workplan – 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, 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 so far 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. Three projects have been selected for further research:
- A Green and Technology Industrial Park would be developed, focusing on production of green energy products and services such as wood pellets and pellet stoves, windmills, and solar panels. A venue could be provided by an industrial park in L’Anse that is ripe for further development.
- Indoor Agriculture would be developed locally as a method of farming to raise produce and crops in a controlled indoor environment year-round. Benefits would include increased availability of local and potentially lower-cost food to retailers, restaurants, and consumers.
- Aquaculture is a system in which fish are raised in confined environments within or directly attached to existing water bodies – in this case primarily Lake Superior’s Keweenaw Bay. Under the right circumstances, indoor agriculture and aquaculture can be combined in a mutually beneficial way through a new industry called “aquaponics.”
A research summary including key results from the survey (conducted late October through November 2012) is available here. The survey played an important role in identifying assets and county characteristics to assist with strategy development.
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.