To become a member of the UPWARD Initiative or for more information on membership please contact
The Upper Peninsula Michigan Works! Agencies, the Upper Peninsula Economic Development Alliance and the Michigan Small Business and Technology Development Center partnered to commission a Regional Innovation Grant (RIG) study by NorthStar Economics, Inc. The result was the 2009 “An Economic Opportunity Study for the Michigan Upper Peninsula/Wisconsin Border Region”.
The UPWard Initiative is the action implementation phase resulting from that 2009 regional study for the design and development of a strategic regional plan focused on economic and talent development aligned with the demands of the 21st century economy. The initiative is a call to action for the region comprised of the fifteen counties in the UP and Florence and Marinette Counties in Wisconsin.
The UPWard Initiative is made up of committees focused on seven pillars of economic development focus. There are currently over 180 local residents working as volunteers to support the study recommendations that developed strategies that are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely.
A collaborative effort of private and public leaders to align and promote the region's resources, expertise and creativity to sustain and grow our regional economy.
Build on the higher education cluster in the region; expand enrollment, research and entrepreneurial activity; raise education attainment of the regions workforce.
Education & Workforce Training
Increase the skill and education of the regional workforce to increase competitiveness.
Work to raise the overall educational attainment in the region- Build on existing programs that increase experiential and entrepreneurial opportunities for K-Adult.
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.
Have the regional become a major tourism destination and 2nd place of residence.
Develop a 21st Century vision for broadband/cellular service, highways, rail service and air service.
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.
Provide citizens of the region with the Highest quality, affordable, convenient health care services available.