EDA Grant Award: $320,000 to Further Outdoor Recreation Innovation

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The Central Upper Peninsula Planning and Development Regional Commission (CUPPAD) and Innovate Marquette SmartZone (Innovate Marquette) today announced they received a $320,000 grant from the federal Economic Development Administration (EDA) as part of an overall $400,000 project to further their outdoor recreation innovation efforts in the Central Upper Peninsula.

The organizations applied for the EDA grant through the Economic Adjustment Assistance program, meant to support communities “experiencing adverse economic changes that may occur suddenly or over time.” CUPPAD and Innovate Marquette highlighted job losses suffered from the 2019 Presque Isle Power plant closure in its application, while recognizing the economic potential of the outdoor recreation industry as a long-term growth strategy for the region.

“As the economy in the Central Upper Peninsula continues to evolve, it is imperative that we leverage the outdoor recreation industry to retain jobs, create new opportunities and bring outside investment to our area,” said Ryan Soucy, senior economic development and community planner for CUPPAD. “This grant from the Economic Development Administration provides the support we need in helping redevelop and revitalize the region.”

The grant enables CUPPAD and Innovate Marquette to embark on a three phase, year-long project that will see them:

  • Initiate the formation of the Outdoor Recreation Innovation Action Network (ORIAN), a public-private industry collaborative.
  • Work toward the development of an Outdoor Recreation Industry Growth Master Plan, which will help the region adapt and diversify from its former reliance on coal industry jobs and create a strategic framework for the outdoor recreation industry.
  • Fund an electrified trails feasibility study, which will identify how the region can take advantage of the economic impacts related to future demand for electric powersports vehicles.

“The potential surrounding outdoor recreation in the Upper Peninsula is limitless, and we are grateful to the Economic Development Administration for recognizing the impact this grant will make as we continue our relentless pursuit of innovation and development in this industry,” said Joe Thiel, CEO of Innovate Marquette SmartZone. “I look forward to collaborating with our partners at CUPPAD and helping lay the groundwork for a more diverse and sustainable economy for our current and future residents.”

Today’s news comes on the heels of the announcement of the Michigan Outdoor Innovation Fund, the first fund of its kind in the Upper Peninsula. The Fund, of which Innovate Marquette is a partner, will invest in startups across the state innovating new technology in outdoor recreation, strengthening the long-term future of Michigan’s outdoor and tourism industry.

CUPPAD and Innovate Marquette will make further announcements related to each phase of the project over the coming months, including the composition of ORIAN and requests for proposals related to the master plan and electrified trails feasibility study.

This grant announcement was welcomed by U.S. Senator Gary Peters, who sent a letter to the Economic Development Administration supporting the organizations’ application.

“The Upper Peninsula is home to world renowned outdoor recreation, which presents an opportunity for the region to be a leader in the emerging outdoor recreation industry,” said Senator Peters. “I was proud to advocate for this funding, which will help CUPPAD and Innovate Marquette develop a strategy to advance recreation technologies, create jobs and support economic growth.”

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Central Upper Peninsula Planning and Development Regional Commission