Project Rising Tide is a state initiative focused on providing at-risk communities with resources and communication tools to help them create a successful economic framework.
As a part of the second round of the program implemented by former governor Rick Snyder, Albion was selected using data in relation to the city’s demographics. The State’s Talent and Economic Development team analyzed statistics like poverty, unemployment, labor participation, occupancy and welfare to make their decision.
Albion is now one of 10 small towns in Michigan under Project Rising Tide. The other nine towns in the second round are Ontonagon, Manistee, West Branch, Ionia, Gladwin/Beaverton, Marlette, Eaton Rapids, Adrian and Hamtramck.
Linda LaNoue is the community development fellow for the Rising Tide – Albion Initiative, which is overseen by the City of Albion. After graduating from Albion High School in 2009 and receiving a Bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies from Michigan State University in 2013, LaNoue is now working toward her Masters of Community Development from the University of Detroit Mercy.
“As my role as the fellow, I understand that there could be more communication and collaboration,” said LaNoue. “This is the point of Rising Tide: to maximize our resources and opportunities.”
Chosen communities are provided with resources to develop an action strategy plan. This plan should outline the tasks, ownership and outcomes that are set to take place over the coming year for community development projects. LaNoue, as the Albion fellow, is responsible for communicating and organizing the action strategy plan and its players.
“[Rising Tide] is very much a moving target, evolving, just an open-ended state initiative to help distressed communities that have different things going for them,” said LaNoue.
As of now, Albion’s action strategy plan is still broad but has been sorted into several categories based on community needs. LaNoue said Albion has many unmet needs in public infrastructure, workforce development, health and wellness resources, post-industrial site uses and low income housing conditions.
“There is very little coordination of local initiatives,” said LaNoue. “It is hard on the local ends because there are strains on the local resources to get the word out.”
This is where LaNoue and Project Rising Tide come in.
The rest of the city government’s steering committee is thankful to have a Rising Tide fellow after a year of planning without the help.
“It was so nice when we were able to hire Linda and get her involved in this,” said Scott Kipp, Albion chief of Public Safety and interim city manager. “It has been an awesome help having her here.”
Optimistic and hopeful, LaNoue is taking “but” out of her vocabulary to motivate the exclusion of excuses in upcoming initiatives.
“I am kind of a radical. I want to see us naming [unmet needs], combating it and building new systems,” said LaNoue.
But humbled by the fact that change doesn’t take place overnight, LaNoue understands the consistent hard work ethic that is needed to make a change.
“The more you do, the more you can do,” said LaNoue.
Rising Tide Action Plan Meeting
Wednesday, March 20, marked the first day for a series of Albion action plan meetings. The meeting started with a steering committee that led breakout sections covering the five major categories of unmet needs for other committee members and the public. LaNoue opened up the meeting to the public in hope that the transparency and involvement will help build support for upcoming projects.
“We don’t need more reports or technical jargon,” said LaNoue outside of the meeting. “We need people to be moved by the circumstances they are in and not stalled by how overwhelming it is.”
Albion College, partnering with community organizations, contributes a large part to supporting the values of the Project Rising Tide. College president Mauri Ditzler serves as one of the leaders on the housing and public infrastructure committees.
“My hopes are that we can still break down those ideas about the college being this other entity and really highlight how much they are contributing,” said LaNoue.