Michigan Economic Development Corporation Redevelopment Ready Communities Resiliency Toolkit
Planning can be a heavy lift for communities with limited staff and resources, especially as the pandemic and climate change have intensified the importance of building more resilience into their redevelopment strategies. The Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) wanted to support communities feeling overworked and overwhelmed by the growing complexity of their planning responsibilities.
MEDC and SmithGroup addressed this need with the Resiliency Toolkit, a comprehensive collection of vetted planning materials gathered from several government agencies and non-profits. In one place, it provides self-assessment tools, data-collection resources, sample language, and examples of successful projects that communities can customize and use to create their own more integrated plans. Recognizing that community grant funding is more readily available for projects than planning, the Resilience Toolkit also provides continued guidance in setting project priorities for implementation, helping communities apply scientific analysis to vulnerabilities when making competitive grant applications. The toolkit helps communities break down jargon, and understand which tools are easiest- and at times fastest- to use for the variety of topics that fall under the umbrella of “resilience”. The toolkit combines instruments for analyzing environmental, economic, social, and infrastructure vulnerabilities into one “how-to” spot.
To create the toolkit, the team first benchmarked resiliency plans across 16 national and international case studies. It conducted focus groups with community stakeholders and experts in Michigan’s public, private, nonprofit, and academic sectors to identify the specific vulnerabilities impacting Michigan communities. The tools and resources it collected were evaluated and vetted for use by all Michigan communities.
The Resiliency Toolkit is designed as a dynamic resource, intended to be continually revised and updated with feedback from its users. Ferndale is the first to use the kit for its 2022 Master Plan Update, closely followed by projects in Marquette and Midland—three Michigan cities with unique assets and challenges ranging from housing affordability to coastal resilience. Through the experiences and creative approaches of these and other communities across the state, the toolkit will continue to evolve, guiding the way to a thriving, more resilient future.