UPWard Initiative




The UPWard Initiative is a call for collaboration among private and public sector leaders, throughout the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and two adjoining Wisconsin Counties.


A collaborative effort of the private and public leaders of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and adjoining Wisconsin counties to align and promote the region’s resources, expertise and creativity in order to sustain and grow the region’s economy.

Strategic Initiatives:

  • Higher Education: Build on the higher education cluster in the region; expand enrollment, research and entrepreneurial activity; raise educational attainment of the regions workforce.
  • Education and Workforce Training: Increase the skill and education of the regional workforce to increase competitiveness.
  • Business Growth & Development: Work to grow existing businesses and the number of new businesses; establish a region-wide culture of collaboration and innovation to attract entrepreneurs and existing business investment.
  • Tourism: Have the region become a major tourism destination and second place of residence.
  • Infrastructure: Develop a 21st century vision for broadband/cellular services, highways, rail service, air service, ports and utilities.
  • Natural Resources: Continue to promote use of the region’s natural resources in an environmentally sound, safe and sustainable manner and focus on proactive strategies that promote value-added economic activity within the region.
  • Health Care: Provide citizens of the region with the highest quality, affordable convenient health care services available.

Committee Structure and Successes:

Natural Resources

  • Ongoing advocacy for natural resources related issues such as County Road 595
  • Partnership with Michigan Association of Timbermen and Great Lakes Timber Professionals Association
  • Attendance at natural resources functions such as MSU extension Agriculture for Tomorrow
  • Research and advocacy related to labor laws that impact family owned farms
  • Natural Resources Asset Map


  • Compilation of information for comprehensive plan around passenger air travel in the UP
  • Partnership with Students Reinventing Michigan supporting roads and bridges infrastructure
  • Airport economic development infrastructure inventory and Green Aviation Coalition Partnership
  • Support efforts to improve and upgrade the electric infrastructure in the region.
  • Analyze and evaluate potential projects and lend support.
  • Educate members on electrical infrastructure issues.

Higher Education:

Completed inventory of University based support systems for economic development, entrepreneurial activities and commercialization of technologieBusiness Growth and Development

  • Region Wide Business Planning Competition
  • Exporting resources document available
  • Industrial Park and Business Incubator inventory
  • Growth company survey and service provision


  • Partnering to educate community about the economic impact of healthcare in the community; developed brochure for regional use to support the message
  • Working together to bring industry and consumer awareness of healthcare reform, quality care, IT and telehealth through annual conferences
  • Addressing talent pipeline through determination of workforce needs utilizing bi-annual survey

Education and Workforce

  • Supporting regional STEM initiative through Seaborg Center with opportunity for EAGs to respond to RFP for grant dollars to support current initiatives and building awareness of STEM through LEGO robotics camps and competitions
  • Incorporating entrepreneurial training into JAG curriculum; piloting JAG in 3 regional school districts
  • NWTC responsiveness to Fincantieri need to develop ship building curriculum; creating ship building curriculum and training site adjacent to employer


  • True U.P. collaboration planning the UPWard Initiative Tourism Conference.
  • Upper Peninsula Travel & Recreation Association (UPTRA) connected to and supporting initiative.
  • Promotion in Pure Michigan Campaign has instilled a greater appreciation for the value of tourism on local economies.

For further information: www.upeda.org or www.jobforce.org
2012 UPWard Initiative Join
2012 UPWard Brochure for Print
UP WI Border Study EXEC SUM
UP WI Border Study