I-69 Thumb Region Frequently Asked Questions

I-69 Thumb Region countiesWhat counties are part of the I-69 Thumb Region (also known as Region 6)?

The I-69 Thumb Region includes Genesee, Huron, Lapeer, Sanilac, St. Clair, Shiawassee and Tuscola counties.  Each county plays a unique role in making the region one of the most resource-rich in the state.  The region offers a low cost of living and an outstanding quality of life, with miles of beaches, natural waterways, unique cities and towns, recreation and entertainment.

As one of 10 Michigan regions, the I-69 Thumb Region boasts a population of over 860,000 residents and a workforce of more than 395,000. Nine percent of the state’s population and over 8 percent of the state’s workforce live and work in the region.  A strong partnership between the lead economic development organizations from each of the seven counties provides a number of benefits through collaborative marketing, planning and project implementation.

Why is it important for these counties to join forces?

It’s important for these areas to come together. Strong local and regional collaboration will drive job creation and investment, lead to a greater quality of life and increase business and talent attraction. The bottom line is sustainable growth in our region depends on communities working together.

What are some of the key assets in the I-69 Thumb Region?

You will find the I-69 Thumb Region rich with assets and amenities such as:

·         Jobs and businesses

·         150 miles of shoreline with 13 lighthouses

·         The Blue Water Bridge and the CN Double-Stack Rail Tunnel

·         Cultural Centers that include performance and museum venues like Flint Institute of Arts, Sloan Museum, Buick Gallery, Owosso’s Lebowsky Center and Port Huron Museum.

·         Flint’s Bishop International Airport

·         Miles of farm land and some of the state’s most popular farmers’ markets

·         Michigan’s largest county park system

·         And much more

What are recent projects of the I-69 Thumb Region?

The region’s first project was the launch of a first-of-its-kind Regional Wage & Benefit Survey. The survey results include aggregate data from employers in all seven counties and provide an optimistic message on increased hiring and minimal layoffs for 2014.

The seven-county region is now collaborating on regional marketing and a comprehensive economic development plan for economic growth that is aligned with a globally competitive economy, and achieves the greatest impact for businesses and residents. The plan will be referred to as Accelerate: A Plan for Regional Prosperity.

What is the Regional Prosperity Initiative?

The Regional Prosperity Initiative is a voluntary competitive grant process that is included in Michigan Governor Rick Snyder’s fiscal year 2014 Executive Budget Recommendation to encourage local private, public and nonprofit partners to collaborate on creating vibrant regional economies. The legislature approved the recommended process and the Regional Prosperity Initiative was signed into law as a part of the FY 2014 budget (59 PA 2013). The I-69 Thumb Region received funding to support regional collaboration and planning in 2014.

Why do we need a formal mechanism for regional collaboration? Why is it important?

As it stands today, many of Michigan’s regions and their economic development, public planning and service delivery entities have overlapping responsibilities and competing visions for their economic priorities. The absence of a regional vision and coordination of services permits both redundancies and gaps. This creates confusion for local, state, federal, private and nonprofit partners seeking to invest in a region’s success. Formalizing a collaborative relationship among local and regional partners allows the state, as well as private and nonprofit stakeholders, to recognize local efforts and work in closer collaboration with local and regional decision makers throughout the state to support their efforts for economic prosperity. It also provides regional stakeholders the opportunity for input and access to the plan and its visionary contents.

What are the primary focus areas for the regional plan?

The plan will include strategies to address core areas such as workforce, adult education and higher education, transportation and economic development.

When will the I-69 Thumb Regional Prosperity Plan be complete?

It is expected that the plan will be completed in November 2014 and will be updated every one to two years.

How can I obtain a copy of the plan?

The plan will be posted on the new I-69 Thumb Region website upon completion at www.i69thumbregion.org. In addition, the plan will be widely distributed during road shows, meetings and other forums.