More than $1M in grants awarded to 21 rural development projects throughout Michigan

What’s happening: Economic and community development projects throughout rural Michigan received a financial boost late last week as the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development’s (MDARD) Office of Rural Development (ORD) awarded 21 grants that total more than $1 million to said efforts. While selected projects vary in size and scope, expediting housing production is a clear priority for many rural Michigan communities and these grants reflect that.

What it is: MDARD’s Office of Rural Development awarded the grants through its Rural Readiness Grant Program, which grants up to $50,000 per rural development project. The ORD received more than 90 requests for more than $4.3 million in funding in this first round of the grant program. The applications for Round 2 are due by 3 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 2, more information of which is available via the MDARD website.

Housing, housing, housing: The majority of projects receiving the grants address housing shortages in Michigan’s rural communities. These include and support housing need assessments and other pre-development work in Alcona, Allegan, Alpena, Cheboygan, Emmet, Gogebic, Grand Traverse, Leelanau, Marquette, Mason, Osceola, Presque Isle, Van Buren, and Wexford counties.

Due to the overwhelming amount of requests for housing support in this first round, the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA) provided ORD a grant to supplement this first round of awards.

But that’s not all: Other projects selected for the Rural Readiness grants include a $45,000 grant toward the expansion of an industrial park development along US-127 in the Charter Township of Union; a $50,000 grant toward pre-development activities to redevelop the former Deerfield and Riverside Correctional Facilities in Ionia; a $49,200 grant toward pedestrian safety efforts in Durand; and more.

A complete breakdown of winning projects is available online.

Why it’s important: "Economic success in rural Michigan requires communities to plan and collaborate with partners for new projects, grants, and investment and many communities lack the organizational capacity to engage in that kind of planning," reads a statement from Sarah Lucas, ORD director. "As a new resource for Michigan, we are thrilled to be able to support those activities. With ORD funding and in partnership with MSHDA, we're able to fund projects that prepare communities for the kinds of investment that will address priorities around housing, industry, infrastructure, and other community goals."

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