The West Michigan Prosperity Alliance (WMPA) was created in 2013 when ten prosperity regions were identified and created across the state. The WMPA is also known as Region 4. The purpose of the WMPA initiative is to increase communication and collaboration as well as better coordinate and integrate investments around economic development, workforce development, and infrastructure. In Fiscal Year 2020, the RPI program was eliminated from the state budget.
Over the past seven years, the WMPA has worked together to organize, build trust, and increase collaboration across the 13 county region. These efforts received recognition for providing leadership within the region and serving as a model for other regions in the state. A major focus of the WMPA’s Regional Prosperity Plan was to identify projects of regional significance. Since 2013, the WMPA received over $1,000,000 in grant dollars, helping to fund more than 16 projects of regional significance. The process of selecting projects included a call for project submission with specific evaluation criteria requirements sent out to over 1,000 agencies and individuals; review of projects to determine if requirements were met, and then public voting at regional summits. The WMPA was the first to develop a public process to share Regional Prosperity Initiative (RPI) funding and award projects. This public involvement process involved hundreds of people.
In 2018, WMSRDC assumed fiduciary leadership of the WMPA Region 4. In addition, Erin Kuhn, WMSRDC executive director became chairperson of the WMPA Steering Committee. In December 2018, the State of Michigan announced Fiscal Year 2019 RPI funding that included $306,810 for the WMPA Region 4. This was the largest RPI grant award WMPA Region 4 received, and included a $70,000 award for integrated asset management. This one-time grant award required the region to work with the newly formed Michigan Infrastructure Council to coordinate two regional communication and coordination summits. The first of which took place in May 2019 at various locations throughout the state. A second round of summits took place across the state during the fall of 2019. Another requirement of the grant was to work toward the development and implementation of a statewide asset management program through collaboration and coordination with the Transportation Asset Management Council, Water Asset Management Council, and the Michigan Infrastructure Council. The remaining RPI grant dollars will be utilized to continue the ongoing efforts of the WMPA. With the elimination of the program at the state level, the WMPA steering committee is working to define the future of this successful local initiative.