WUPPDR director: Ontonagon plays role in region plans

ONTONAGON – Jerald Wuorenmaa told the Ontonagon County Board commissioners Tuesday that the Western Upper Peninsula Planning and Development Region has their backs.

Established in 1968, WUPPDR covers six counties: Baraga, Gogebic, Houghton, Iron, Keweenaw and Ontonagon. All six county governments are members, along with two townships, village of Ontonagon and the cities of Houghton and Hancock.

“We focus on the western U.P.,” said Wuorenmaa, WUPPDR’s executive director. “We’re a point of contact in the area. We’re looking at a system for geological mapping of the region.”

In addition to the mapping, he said WUPPDR defines regional needs in areas such as housing, workforce development and education, and it finds ways to fill those needs.

WUPPDR is one of 10 Prosperity Regions in Gov. Rick Snyder’s Regional Prosperity Initiative, which tries to improve and facilitate collaboration among agencies at all levels by reducing service gaps and duplication.

Wuorenmaa said the agency worked with the Pure Michigan campaign to successfully attract tourists from Chicago, Detroit and Grand Rapids. It is also working with nonprofits to help them grow support and thrive.

Wuorenmaa said he plans to update the County Board at its monthly meetings.

“It’s been a missed opportunity in the past,” he said, regarding the agency attending board meetings.