Outdoor Recreation Innovation Action Network

The Central Upper Peninsula Planning and Development (CUPPAD) Regional Commission and Innovate  Marquette (IMQT) have partnered to develop an Outdoor Recreation Industry Innovation Growth Strategy, focusing on the counties of Alger, Delta, Dickinson,  Marquette, Menominee, and Schoolcraft, through the Outdoor Recreation Innovation Action Network (ORIAN).

This undertaking, which will transform the outdoor recreation industry in the central Upper Peninsula and beyond, is possible due to a $320,000 grant from the federal Economic Development Administration (EDA). The EDA grant which will support this undertaking was through the agency’s Economic Adjustment Assistance Program, which supports communities “experiencing adverse economic changes that may occur suddenly or over time.” CUPPAD and Innovate Marquette, in their application, highlighted the job losses related to the closure of the Presque Isle Power Plant and the economic potential of outdoor recreation as a growth strategy.

ORIAN will focus on helping the region adapt and diversify from its former reliance on coal industry jobs and develop a strategic framework for the growth of the outdoor recreation industry. It will also develop an outdoor recreation business database to support region-wide communication, serve as a hub for data and information related to outdoor recreation, provide business-to-business support, and convene an annual outdoor recreation summit.

Request for Proposals: Regional Outdoor Recreation Industry Growth Strategy.

As part of this effort, the Central Upper Peninsula Planning and Development (CUPPAD) Regional Commission and Innovate Marquette SmartZone (Innovate Marquette) are seeking proposals supporting the development of a regional Outdoor Recreation Industry Growth Strategy.

Proposals should demonstrate knowledge of the Central Upper Peninsula of Michigan (which includes Alger, Delta, Dickinson, Marquette, Menominee and Schoolcraft counties), economic development expertise, strong connections to outdoor innovation, broad familiarity with electric vehicle charging infrastructure and outdoor recreation mobility. They should also address how they plan to incorporate guiding principles, such as environmental stewardship, cultural sustainability and multi-modal connectivity into the formation of the plan.

To view the full request for proposals, click below. 

To read the full press release, click below. 

Please submit proposals electronically to Ryan Soucy, Senior Planner at RSOUCY@CUPPAD.ORGThe deadline for the submission of proposals is Friday, July 12, 2024, at 5:00 PM EST. If there are any questions regarding this RFP, please contact Ryan Soucy by July 8th. 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.


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, the 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.