Michigan’s Redevelopment Ready Communities Program is an Innovative Way to Encourage Redevelopment

By John Collier, GOPC Manager of Research

As part of Greater Ohio Policy Center’s mission to use smart growth strategies to revitalize Ohio’s communities, GOPC is constantly working to identify successful state and local policies. GOPC believes good public policy is effective and efficient at tackling an identified problem.

Research by GOPC has identified a dire need for policies that provide technical assistance to community that lack the necessary capacity to fully revitalize. The Redevelopment Ready Communities program from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation is one program that has shown promise in addressing this problem and is quintessential example of good public policy.

Redevelopment Ready Communities is a state-wide certification program that supports communities’ efforts to become development ready and competitive in today’s economy. The program identifies best practices that are necessary/beneficial to have in place in order to attract development in a smart, sustainable way that benefits the community. These clear and concise best practices create the outline of criteria that must be met to complete the certification process. An example of some of the criteria communities must complete include:

  • Adopting a downtown plan

  • Identify a public participation strategy

  • Zoning ordinances that include flexible tools to encourage redevelopment

  • Streamlining and improving of the development review process

  • Programs in place to encourage ongoing education and training for community leaders

  • Creating a marketing strategy and a user-friendly municipal website

  • Identifying and prioritizing redevelopment sites

The full handbook of best practices and evaluation criteria can be found here.

The RRC program, however, is much more than just a list of criteria and a stamp of approval. The real innovation of the program is in the process. RRC provides no-cost technical assistance to the communities that engage in the certification process. RRC helps communities build the necessary capacity through a long-term relationship between the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (Michigan’s equivalent of JobsOhio) that provides examples from other communities, resource guides, and ongoing technical assistance.The program also encourages localities to work with partners including chambers, foundations, and main streets organizations (although the certification process is ultimately run through the municipality). The infographic below outlines the RRC process.

MEDC-redevelopment ready steps.png

In addition to the technical assistance, Redevelopment Ready Communities benefit from having up to three of their community’s available redevelopment sites prompted by MEDC. RRC engagement is also a criterion used to assess and prioritize Community Development investments by the state.

For an example of some of the recent success of the program, see RRC’s 2018 Annual Report.

Many of Ohio’s communities face the same problems as their Michigan peers and could benefit from a similar program. Such a program would address the need for technical assistance in struggling communities to address a variety of issues ranging from workforce housing, economic development, and downtown redevelopment. 

More information about MEDC’s Redevelopment Ready Communities can be found here.