Spring 2021 CERI Projects

By Brogan Eisler and Kylie White, CCED Research Assistants   

In partnership with the U.S. Department of Commerce, Economic Development Administration (EDA), the Michigan State University Comprehensive Economic Recovery Initiative (CERI) was established to advance Michigan’s long-term economic recovery from COVID-19. Since June of 2020, CERI has played a vital role in providing the important education, training, technical assistance, and research in partnership with hard hit communities and regions in Michigan. CERI has four strategic areas of focus; we like to refer to as the Pillars. Each Pillar looks to tackle specific areas that impact communities, and it is these Pillars that help us to determine which projects to select. 

 [Figure 1]  

The Four Pillars 

  1. Resiliency planning  
    To facilitate comprehensive planning that can assist communities to speed their recovery after experiencing natural or manmade shocks such as the novel coronavirus pandemic. 

  1. Financial resiliency  
    Collaborate with community capital experts, state planning agencies, local governments, community anchor institutions, Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), private financial institutions, and others to increase and expand the capacity of community financial institutions and individuals to invest in local businesses. 

  1. Circular economies  
    This strategic initiative provides technical assistance to accelerate the growth of circular economy businesses in the State of Michigan. The initiative will identify economic recovery efforts and other strategic resources to assist individuals, businesses, and communities to navigate coronavirus-related resources, support feasibility studies, and conduct market research economic impact surveys, and other analyses that support the development of businesses and services that maximize the efficient use of local/regional supply chains in specific markets. 

  1. 21st Century communications infrastructure  
    This initiative works with key partners to develop and support activities that increase access in rural and low-income urban communities and build the capacity of communities to use these online platforms for civic engagement, commerce, and education. 

In 2021 alone, the CERI awarded support to local and regional projects across Michigan, each of them touching on at least one of the Pillars.

Current CERI projects include: 

A “Resiliency Planning” Thought Leaders Series  
Hosted by MSU Extension land use educators and MSU faculty, interns, and agency partners 

Falling under the Resiliency Planning Pillar, this 6-session live webinar “thought leader” series ran from March through April. It was intended to open discussion on the role of regional economic planning and local master planning to prepare for a more resilient and sustainable post-COVID environment. The series not only addressed the steps for current planning but allowed for considerations for future resiliency.  

Center for Community Climate Resilience  
Led by Ann Erhardt, in collaboration with Michigan Diversity Education Center (MiDEC) 

COVID-19 has highlighted many disparities and instabilities in both the health care systems and the economy. This project aims to address those issues, while also discussing how those negative impacts will be mirrored and even exacerbated by climate change events. The project will further investigate how the impacts of climate change are integrated with extractive systems and policies based in capitalism and white supremacist culture, and how this can be connected to complex solutions of racial equity. This project also falls under the Resiliency Panning Pillar. 

CERI Technical Assistance Project 
Led by REI Innovation Fellow Mitchell Shapiro and partnered with Merit Network and the Michigan Broadband Cooperative 

Whether it is education, outreach, or other work, the COVID-19 pandemic has moved much of our day-to-day activities to a virtual and online platform. Because of this, the need to address the longstanding digital divide in Michigan has become even more urgent. This project will help bridge this divide by developing a proposal to engage in an in-depth study on the feasibility and benefits of automated open access networks in the broadband space. This project falls under the 21st Century Communications Infrastructure Pillar. 

Catalyzing Waste Reduction Opportunities for Small and Rural Communities 
Led by Terry Link, Starting Now, LLC and Bill Stough, Sustainability Research Group 

This Circular Economies Pillar research project is looking at viable options for addressing waste reduction in small and rural communities, while strengthening the markets for profit, nonprofit and community owned enterprises within the community. The project includes a plan to develop potential models that can be adopted by communities across the state to reduce landfill waste, while at the same time spurring partnerships across local regional entities. 

For more information contact Kylie White, Research Assistant, whitek47@msu.edu  

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