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Growth & Investment Network

The Grand Vision Growth & Investment Network exists to facilitate the growth and entrepreneurial culture of unique cities and villages in our region by strengthening and encouraging business development, removing barriers, utilizing incentives, and fostering public and private improvements.


What is the Growth and Investment Network?

Each month, a dynamic group of regional stakeholders meet to discuss the future health of the northwest lower Michigan regional economy. Monthly meeting participants include stakeholders from the following types of organizations:

• Local Units of Government
• Local, Regional, State and Federal Government Service Agencies
• Local, Regional, State and Federal Economic Development Service Agencies
• Citizens Groups
• Non-Profits Organizations
• Financial and Lending Institutions
• Private Sector Businesses
• Academic Institutions
• Foundations  

The goal of this group is to both create a forum and comprehensive network which provides the pulse of economic growth and investment opportunities throughout the region and an environment where these opportunities can be pollinated for economic success.

2012 Community Growth Grantees

The New Designs for Growth Community Growth Grants Program is intended to strengthen our region by
removing barriers and creating incentives for greater public and private sector investment in our region.
Successful projects will create a framework for sustainable and efficient growth and development by
implementing strategies that are consistent with the Grand Vision ( and New
Designs for Growth ( principles.  The 2012 grantees include:

Village of Ellsworth

Awarded funding to help support and market their farmer’s market, build awareness of the community, including downtown businesses and to strengthen ties between the agricultural and educational sectors. The grant will also help to purchase a LED sign for use in promoting the farmers market and announcing school and community events.

City of Frankfort

Awarded funding to implement Community WI-FI within the Main Street and Lake Michigan Beach corridor. Community WI-FI within this area will add a critical amenity for the city, provide existing businesses with an efficient and economical solution to improve connectivity, and enhance opportunities for entrepreneurship. This project, in support of the New Economy", is about connecting people and creating an environment that is adaptive and flexible.

Grand Traverse County Parks & Recreation Department

Awarded funding to advance the efforts of two new regional collaboratives (the Parks and Recreation Network, and the Up North Experience Partnership) with the goal of fostering a sustainable, world class parks and recreation system in the Grand Traverse Region. The Parks and Recreation Network will create a “one-stop-shop” for Parks & Recreation programs throughout Grand Traverse County, including a wide variety of sport teams, special interest clubs (hiking, biking, etc.), and after school programs. The Up North Experience will create a smart phone application that will allow users to access a variety of self-guided, non-motorized outdoor recreation experiences throughout the five-county area, including hiking, paddling, bird watching, snow shoeing and cross country skiing. Each of these tools will be connected to the other and the specific provider’s websites. Once completed, these two tools will make it possible for anyone that lives in or visits the Grand Traverse region to have an exceptional Parks &Recreational experience.

Village of Kingsley

Awarded funding to assist in a public outdoor art display project. The Village will utilize this assistance for both planning and funding for the public outdoor art initiative to coordinate artists, donors, volunteers, businesses and the public to achieve success for the project. The major goals of the initiative are to turn two vacant lots downtown into a space to showcase outdoor sculpture from regional artists, develop a mural on a downtown building, showcase outdoor art throughout the Village to create vibrant outdoor spaces.

Kalkaska County

Kalkaska County was awarded a technical assistance grant that will bring in planning staff to organize and execute the creation of Kalkaska County’s recreation plan in a manner which also supports and reinforces township plans and planning efforts. The need for the planning grant is due to the limited staff of Kalkaska County and its townships. Access to experienced and trained planners will allow Kalkaska County to effectively coordinate local and county recreation plans with the existing regional plan.

Village of Kalkaska

Awarded funding to assist with the purchase of property in the 300 block of their downtown core slated for redevelopment in their new Master Plan. This redevelopment project is part of the Kalkaska Connects initiative that definitively responds to citizen input inspired by the Master Planning process by making decisive plans for new investment in the downtown core. Village officials describe a future vision for Kalkaska’s downtown complete with new property development along the east side of US-131 and new public improvements and private investment along the west side.

Village of Empire

Awarded funding to identify and create transportation opportunities and alternatives that will enhance the ability of residents and visitors to move and circulate between the assets of the Village of Empire and the surrounding area in a safe and user friendly environment. The Village of Empire [Village] is divided by State Highways M22 and M72 which tri-sects the community into three areas. These legacy trunk lines have isolated developing neighborhoods, the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore Visitor Center, the main body of the Village, and access to natural resources and recreational areas, from each other. Additionally, the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail linkage to the Village planned for 2013, will add additional challenges and motivations to create a safe community transportation network. The primary goal of the grant request is the development of a Village Transportation and Wayfinding Plan which will provide the baseline planning guide for transportation network solutions.

City of Cadillac

Awarded technical assistance for the creation of a Complete Streets policy to guide transportation project decision-making in their community. Development of the policy will seek to include input from all segments of the population, as Complete Streets are geared toward inclusion of all roadway users regardless of age, ability, or mode of transportation. When implemented, the policy will ensure that future transportation projects and improvements help create a safe, efficient transportation network for all users.


Ribbon Cutting for Grand Vision-Inspired Silver Drive

A ribbon cutting ceremony was held to celebrate the completion of Silver Drive and the non-motorized Buffalo Ridge Trail in Traverse City. Watch the video to hear why local leaders think the project is important for the region.



Work being done to encourage growth and investment in Frankfort was featured in a video shown at The Grand Vision Your Action event in Traverse City. The video was produced for The Grand Vision Growth and Investment Network.  
Student Video: The future of the Elk Rapids wastewater treatment system was featured in a student video shown at the Grand Vision Your Action event in Traverse City. The video was produced for The Grand Vision Growth and Investment and Food and Farming Networks by Elise Coates, a student at Elk Rapids High School.  

New Designs for Growth (NDFG) Program

During intensive growth and sprawl in the early 1990s, public recognition of the need for economic development projects that complemented and protected the northwestern lower Michigan’s unique natural resources became clear, and prompted an action-oriented public private partnership. The Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce led the creation of a regionally focused development guidebook, focusing on examples of development practices that would accommodate growth while maintaining and improving quality of life for residents.

Efforts of the Chamber to inform local officials of guidebook principles and implementation methods led to the formation of New Designs for Growth (NDFG), ultimately leading to several iterations of the regionally focused development guidebooks. The management of the NDFG program has now transferred to the Northwest Michigan Council of Governments, therefore making the principles of this program relevant to the 10-county northwestern lower Michigan region, including all of the Grand Vision counties.

We have learned in recent years from the economic decline of local, regional, state, national and global economies that growth is no longer guaranteed. Although the latest version of the NDFG Development Guidebook is relevant in areas where growth, investment and economic development is occurring, other tools are now relevant for many areas facing stagnation and decline. These new strategies for economic sustainability and development focus on the local and regional assets of our communities and region that must now be leveraged to attract growth, investment and economic development to our region. The New Designs for Growth program is evolving into a regional brand that represents a comprehensive set of strategic economic growth and land use tools and concepts that embrace the Principles of the Grand Vision.


NDFG Smart Growth Initiative

  • New Designs for Growth Website (click here)
  • New Designs for Growth Development Guidebook (click here)


Planner’s Moments DVD Video Series


Placemaking Initiative

  •     See info from Northern Michigan Placemaking Summits 2012 and 2011 (click here)
  •     Northern Michigan Community Placemaking Guidebook is available online  (click here)
  •     Creating Vibrant Places in Northwest Michigan interactive website (click here)


Hot Topics

Check this area of our page often, as we'll post big stories and Grand Vision-inspired action from around the six-county region. Current Growth and Investment work throughout our region includes:

Crains of Detroit article: After the Leaves Leave, Leelanau County Works to Build Economy Less Dependent on Tourism (Nov. 2, 2011)


Information on the following coming soon in Fall 2012!

•Community Growth Grants
•Placemaking Video winners
•Corridors of Significance Inventory


Regional Growth & Investment Resources

County Guides to Permitting and Zoning
Regional Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS)
New Designs for Growth Development Guidebook
New Designs for Growth Community Placemaking Guidebook
• Link to Regional Planning & Community Development at NWMCOG.

To be a part of the Growth and Investment Network check out the Google Group. For a list of dates and times for Growth and Investment Network monthly meetings and future events, please see the Calendar.Information coming soon in Fall 2012 on:
•Community Growth Grants
•Placemaking Video winners
•Corridors of Significance Inventory

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