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Michigan creates Office of Rural Development

MARQUETTE — Economic development officials in the Upper Peninsula responded favorably to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s announcement that an Office of Rural Development will be housed under the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

MDARD is under the leadership of Upper Peninsula native and former legislator Gary McDowell. Rural economic developers and their partners from across the state have advocated for such a move, bringing a similar concept forward in 2020 for consideration.

“This is a big deal for the Upper Peninsula and rural Michigan,” Invest UP CEO Marty Fittante said. “We are grateful to Gov. Whitmer for her leadership in embracing this idea. Embedding an office that focuses on rural issues and opportunities within the administration is forward thinking, and makes Michigan a national leader on advancing rural prosperity. The governor’s timing in creating the office is especially opportune, as the pandemic, despite all its challenges, has also brought opportunity with it for the Upper Peninsula. But there are challenges that stand in the way. So, the focus and resources that come through this office can be a difference-maker. That is why we look forward to working with the U.P. legislative delegation to ensure the office has the necessary resources to help the U.P. and rural Michigan prosper.”

Lake Superior Community Partnership CEO Amy Clickner said she was pleased with Whitmer’s announcement.

“This is the time for rural Michigan to shine with endless economic opportunities within reach,” Clickner said. “The pandemic has shed the light on our ability to work from where we choose to live, and in the case of rural, that means regions that provide a clean, safe environment with a low risk of natural disaster and incredible quality of life. We are grateful to Gov. Whitmer for raising up rural in Michigan.”

The Lake Superior Community Partnership is Marquette County’s leading resource for economic development, providing a wide variety of affordable and effective development services.

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