Go! Baraga County is a strategic plan for job creation in Baraga County, Michigan.

The final version of Go! Baraga County, the Baraga County Strategic Plan begun in fall 2012, has been completed and submitted to the United States Economic Development Administration. Click here to view the document (PDF file).

Go! Baraga County has endeavored to move Baraga County forward by creating jobs and ensuring this remains a great place to live, work, and play. The plan includes a small number of strategies and projects that can be implemented through a realistic work plan – one that will not sit on a shelf.

Information about each of the included 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.

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. In 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 saw the County economy as declining, and 76 percent gauged its current state as negative (between “neutral” and “desperate”).

The focus of planning in Go! Baraga County was to identify and recognize the county’s assets in the context of accomplishing projects with community ownership that could be put into place using existing resources. The narrow focus on a few realistic, carefully researched projects was to make the plan’s strategies attainable.

The Go! Baraga County Strategic Plan was 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.