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Economic Development

1/7/2020: St. Joseph Township excited about joint harbor project

Herald Palladium- It will take major communication and cooperation among officials from three communities to make the
Twin Cities Sustainable Harbor Project a success.
But if the long-talked about development spanning parts of Benton Harbor, St. Joseph and St. Joseph Township becomes a reality, it will bring all three municipalities in the region great benefits for years to come.
That was the message delivered Monday by a consultant on the project, and St. Joseph Township officials agreed.
“There’s not a huge spot of land (in St. Joseph Township), but if you develop the harbor, you’re going to draw other development. This is a regional project and it will be a plus for all of us,” St. Joseph Township Manager Denise Cook said at a board workshop.

10/16/2019: Will Twin Cities harbor plan float?

Herald Palladium - 

There is a great opportunity for the Twin Cities to catch a wave of growth along its waterfront over the next 20 years, according to a consultant who has been studying the issue for several months.

“You have a tremendous resource right in your backyard,” commented Don Carpenter, with Drummond Carpenter, conducting the final community discussion on the harbor plans at Kinexus in Benton Harbor on Tuesday.

The Twin Cities Harbor Sustainability Initiative, encompassing Benton Harbor, St. Joseph and St. Joseph Township, has been put together over the last 15 months with public gatherings, focus groups, meetings with government officials and other efforts to collect ideas for the waterfront. It is sponsored by the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy’s Office of the Great Lakes in partnership with Michigan Sea Grant, Lawrence Technological University, the Harbor Conservancy and other groups.

10/11/2019: Final harbor study meetings set for Oct. 15

The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy’s Office of the Great Lakes has scheduled the meeting to further engage with community members and develop long-term, sustainable strategies that will enable the local communities to maximize the benefits of their harbor and waterfront assets.

4/11/2019: Trail between Niles, Berrien Springs taking shape

Herald Palladium - 

The reality of a walking/biking trail between Niles and Berrien Springs is still years and millions of dollars away, but planning is underway, thanks to a grant received by the Be Healthy Berrien organization.

Be Healthy Berrien Director Heather Cole and Southwest Michigan Planning Commission Planner Marcy Hamilton attended the Berrien Township Board meeting on Tuesday to update members about plans for the proposed trail.

As currently envisioned, the trail will run north from Plym Park on the north side of Niles, to Berrien Springs along the old interurban right-of-way. Most of that right-of-way is now owned by American Electric Power and is parallel to and west of M-139, headed toward Berrien Springs.

3/30/2019: Missing piece of River Valley Trail falls into place, will connect path from Niles to Mishawaka

South Bend Tribune - NILES — A missing mile of the Indiana-Michigan River Valley Trail is scheduled to be filled in this year, giving walkers, runners and cyclists a continuous 17-mile path from Niles to Mishawaka.

Work to complete the last link of the trail in Niles Township could possibly begin this spring and finish up by fall, a township official said.

3/27/2019: Berrien County dreams of trails, like a link from Niles to Berrien Springs

South Bend Tribune - 

More than 100 people came to Andrews University on a cold February night — more than anyone expected — to talk about safe routes to walk and bike through Berrien County.

I found a group of real estate agents who said they see a positive effect of trails on property values. I found Frank Beltran, manager of the Candlewood Estates in Stevensville, who runs on trails but also sees them as a draw for his hotel customers.

They came to Berrien Springs to help update a five-year master plan for the Southwest Michigan Planning Commission, not just for Berrien but for Cass and seven counties in all. The document should be finished by the fall, a heads-up to others who work on trails and on-road routes and to state road officials — so they can see what else is in the works. Ultimately, senior planner Marcy Hamilton says, “There has to be someone locally who champions it.”

3/10/2019: Berrien gets behind Marquette trail project

Herald Palladium - Marcy Hamilton, with the Southwest Michigan Planning Commission, spoke with county commissioners to update them on the project conceived with Harbor Country Trails, and to solicit their support.

The trail starts in Chicago’s Calumet Park, running along the lakeshore and through the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, and would cover 58 miles when extended to New Buffalo.

Having non-motorized trails helps retain families, businesses and young professionals, Hamilton said, along with promoting tourism, increasing tax revenue and encouraging physical activity. Studies show that having a more walkable community increases home values.

Surveys show that people want more park areas and walking and jogging trails, Hamilton illustrated.


7/5/2019: Website promotes cleaner water, better beaches

The Herald Palladium - 

A family packs up and heads to the beach on Lake Michigan for a long-planned vacation. When they get there they learn that the water has been closed to swimmers because of contamination by E.coli, which can cause illness if swallowed.

This is an aggravation and an inconvenience for the family, but it is also a symptom of the larger issue of water quality in the rivers and streams that flow into Lake Michigan, the source of our drinking water.

The Southwest Michigan Planning Commission, based in Benton Harbor, has posted a new website, BetterBeachesSWMI.org, that outlines the goal of improving water quality from Stevensville to the Indiana state line.

6/17/2019: 'Keep It Blue' water survey online

Herald Palladium - What do you know about water?

That’s what the Southwest Michigan Planning Commission wants to learn through its “Keep It Blue” online survey for
residents in Berrien and Cass counties, that will assess the community’s knowledge and level of concern with local water quality issues


1/16/2020: Cass Bridge Replacement Project Draws Cooperative Acclaim

Moody on The Market - In a day and age when “governmental cooperation” is sometimes considered an oxymoron, especially at the national level, the Southwest Michigan Planning Commission continues to search out exemplary collaboration in Michigan’s Great Southwest through their annual Graham Woodhouse Intergovernmental Effort Award.

Last month when they conducted their most recent commission meeting to wrap up the year, the commission presented the award to the Sink Road Bridge Replacement Project in Pokagon Township of Cass County.


5/16/2020: Napier Avenue road diet approved

Herald Palladium - Napier Avenue, between the bridge over the St. Joseph River and 450 feet east of Union Avenue, is expected to be reduced from four to three lanes by the end of the year.

The Berrien County Board of Commissioners approved the second leg of the Napier Avenue project Thursday.

6/7/2019: SWMPC hosts non-motorized transportation summit at SMC

The Leader - Cass County community members poured over large maps inside of Southwestern Michigan College’s Fred L. Mathews Library Conference Room. Working in groups of five or six, those in the library labeled the maps in different colors to indicate where pedestrian and biking paths currently exist the in the county and where community members think they are needed.

The Southwest Michigan Planning Commission visited SMC to host a non-motorized transportation summit. The summit allowed for residents to participate in a discussion about the potential for bicycling and pedestrian facilities in Cass County. Facilities can include paved shoulders on existing roads and off-road trails to be used by cyclists and pedestrians.

This page last updated on 9/26/2014.
Southwest Michigan Planning Commission  
376 West Main Street  Suite 130  Benton Harbor, MI 49022-3651
Phone: 269.925.1137  Fax: 269.925.0288  

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