Request for Proposals: Leader for Outdoor Recreation Innovation Action Network

The Central Upper Peninsula Planning and Development (CUPPAD) Regional Commission and Innovate  Marquette (IMQT) are seeking proposals for a consultant project leader capable of organizing the Outdoor  Recreation Innovation Action Network (ORIAN): a public-private industry collaborative. This project is one component of a recently funded grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration to develop an  Outdoor Recreation Industry Innovation Growth Strategy, focusing on the counties of Alger, Delta, Dickinson,  Marquette, Menominee, and Schoolcraft.

The ORIAN public-private collaboration will serve as the steering committee for the overall project to create a  strategic growth plan for the region, focusing on electrified outdoor recreation and mobility. The collaborative will develop an outdoor recreation business database to support regionwide communication, serve as a regional hub  for data and information on outdoor recreation, provide business-to-business support and a forum for sharing  opportunities, and convene an annual Outdoor Recreation summit for the region.

To accomplish this component, CUPPAD and IMQT are seeking an experienced and credentialed outdoor economy  professional to: 1) identify public and private network of stakeholders; 2) assemble the ORIAN committee; 3)  arrange and run the ORIAN agenda and meetings to meet committee defined objectives and those set forth above;  and 4) host and organize an outdoor recreation summit with regional stakeholders. 

Proposals should demonstrate knowledge of the Central Upper Peninsula of Michigan, strong connections to outdoor innovation, broad familiarity with electric vehicle charging infrastructure, and outdoor recreation  mobility.


CUPPAD, a regional planning organization, is the U.S. EDA’s designated Economic Development District for the  central upper peninsula’s six-county region. As part of that role, CUPPAD maintains a Comprehensive Economic  Development Strategy (CEDS), which describes general priorities and development projects of the region and is  one factor in enabling local partners to be eligible for federal funding. Two key priorities discussed in the CEDS  include the need for greater economic diversification and supporting the transition away to more sustainable  sources of energy. In 2019, the Presque Isle Power plant, located in Marquette County ceased operations while taking approximately 70 jobs with it, enabling the region to become eligible for Assistance to Coal Communities  funding, which this project is primarily funded by.

Recent economic planning has pointed to the outdoor recreation sector as a key regional strength which presents  new unique opportunities for the Upper Peninsula as we begin to see the emergence of electrified vehicles. By  developing a growth strategy that analyzes this emerging industry and provides detailed insights on the  environment of the region, the region can learn what actions government and economic leaders can take to build  the foundations that support growth and educate decision-makers about electrified mobility as it relates to  outdoor recreation. 

Innovate Marquette offers access to critical resources, mentorship, funding, talent and network collaboration to  entrepreneurs, existing businesses and startups. As one of 20 SmartZones designated by the Michigan Economic  Development Corporation (MEDC), Innovate Marquette works with partners to create a thriving local  entrepreneurial ecosystem. With an emphasis on technology-focused ventures in outdoor innovation, creative  technology, and sustainable technology Innovate Marquette aims to draw economic opportunity to the region  and sustain an inclusive and approachable business community. Through a customized innovation journey and  partnerships with the MEDC, City of Marquette, Northern Michigan University and other local economic  development organizations, Innovate Marquette helps create a comprehensive network to support current and  future economic development in the region.  


The selected consultant will be responsible for identifying both public and private stakeholders to provide value with their participation on the ORIAN committee. The committee should include representation from the  following: Outdoor Industry, Education (K12 & higher), Municipalities, Regional EDO, State/National, Financial.  

The consultant will be responsible for managing the committee, which includes its creation, developing a scope of  work, oversight of subcommittees, ensuring milestones are met, providing advisory support and guidance, taking  necessary steps to mitigate project barriers, and reviewing and providing constructive comments on draft  documents. The consultant will create and maintain open communication with similar projects for our region,  which includes the whole of the Upper Peninsula and northern Lower Peninsula of Michigan. For example,  InvestUP’s mapping project for the U.P. 

After the committee is created, two of its first activities will be to: a) set goals and a timeline for the committee  to meet its objectives and b) review and finalize a request for proposal for an electrified trails feasibility study.  ORIAN will develop an outdoor recreation business database to support regionwide communication, serve as a  regional hub for data and information on outdoor recreation, provide business-to-business support and a forum  for sharing opportunities, and convene an annual Outdoor Recreation summit for the region. 

Lastly, the consultant will be asked to organize an outdoor recreation summit with regional stakeholders. IMQT’s  Attraction department will be available to support the consultant with this task. 

This is a work for hire project. All materials prepared by the contractor for this package of services will be the  property of the funders. 


  • Assemble ORIAN collaborative.
  • Work with collaborative to create database for outdoor recreation assets in the Central U.P. region.
  • Participate in drafting, executing, and participating on selection committee for the RFPs for the electrified trails feasibility study and the Industry Growth Strategy master plan.
  • Invite feasibility study group to an ORIAN meeting to present their findings to the collaborative. • Host first annual Outdoor Recreation summit.


  • Full schedule for ORIAN meetings.
  • Meeting minutes and action items sent to CUPPAD and IMQT representatives.
  • A complete outdoor recreation asset database for the Central U.P. region.
  • A plan for next steps for the ORIAN collaborative.


Timeline is estimated and deliverable focused. The project timeline is expected to be an approximate twelve month program taking place between the dates of January 2024 and January 2025.
RFP Released: January 03, 2024

  • RFP closes: Wednesday, January 17, 2024 at 5:00 PM EST
  • Consultant selections made and applicants informed: January 22, 2024
  • ORIAN collaborative formed: February 6, 2024
  • Inaugural ORIAN meeting: March 2024
  • Outdoor Recreation database of Central U.P. assets completed: January 2025


This project is financed with funds provided through the U.S. EDA. The contract for this project may be subject to approval by the U.S. EDA. CUPPAD and IMQT have budgeted $24,000 for this component of the project.
Please be sure to include a basic outline of the program budget in the Cost Proposals section of the proposal.

Proposal Submission

CUPPAD will accept submissions from contractors who demonstrate a clear understanding of the proposed  project in the context the Central U.P. 

A complete proposal packet should include the following headings: 

  1. Organization Overview/ Summary: General information about your organization, including legal name,  year of establishment, number of employees, and organizational experience and success directly related  to the RFP content.  

Project Staff: Identify the lead contact person for project implementation and including  their applicable skills. Acknowledge that key staffing changes must be  

discussed/approved by Ryan Soucy, CUPPAD Senior Planner.

Markets Served: Description of geographic/industry markets you typically serve. 

Services: Description of your services and core competencies. 

Experience Type: Description of types of experience and how it relates to current  project. 

  1. Project Approach: Describe how you will operationalize the RFP deliverables and how they directly  inform the goals of the project. Describe how you will work with the ORIAN Committee and Strategy  Consultant. 
  2. Cost Proposal: Present a draft budget including a breakdown of costs related to the deliverables and  project oversight/administration. Budget should be broken down by task. 
  3. Schedule and Required Information: Timetable and information on written questions, contractual  obligations and required clauses. 


Please submit proposals electronically to Ryan Soucy, Senior Planner at RSOUCY@CUPPAD.ORG. The deadline for the submission of proposals is Wednesday, January 17, 2024, at 5:00 PM EST. If there are any questions regarding this RFP, please contact Ryan Soucy by January 12th. An email confirming receipt of your submission will be sent within 24 hours. Applicants are encouraged to submit proposals early to avoid any technical difficulties. Late submissions will not be accepted, no exceptions. 

Selection Process and Evaluation

Proposals will be evaluated according to the quality of the responses to the sections identified in the Proposal Submission section. Proposals will be evaluated by content addressing our unique regional circumstances, experience of the consultant, and ability to meet project expectations. Please ensure that your proposal is complete.

Proposals will be evaluated among a team of local partners on January 18th and 19th. A selected applicant will be contacted on January 22nd. Firms not selected will be contacted the following week. Please do not call to check on the status of your proposal.

Proposals will be evaluated using the following criteria: