Otsego County examines quality of life

Michigan State University Extension provides support to local community initiatives.

What makes Otsego County, Mich. a desirable place to pursue a career, raise a family and retire in comfort? Is it the variety of restaurants and shopping options, friendly neighbors or abundance of outdoor activities? On the other hand, are there conditions that need to be improved such as traffic congestion, affordable housing and jobs that pay a living wage?

Finding the answers to these and other concerns is the purpose of conducting a Quality of Life Assessment in Otsego county. Several local groups are pursuing needs assessments to gather information specific to their mission and program. This assessment is a macro version of those individual efforts and will offer a view of the bigger picture.

The program is administered through the Northeast Michigan Council of Governments (NEMCOG) with Phil Alexander, retired Michigan State University (MSU) Extension educator, as the project manager. A steering committee of six people and an advisory committee of 35 people, including Bethany Prykucki, MSU Extension educator, represent diverse interests, sectors and geographic areas assist throughout the planning, implementation and evaluation process.

The comprehensive assessment uses a holistic approach to examine current economic, social and environmental conditions, and the future aspirations of the people of Otsego County. By looking at all three aspects of our county simultaneously, the community can better understand their relationship, interdependence and relative balance. Baseline information was obtained from existing reports and used as a launching point.

This assessment will evaluate the current quality of life in Otsego County and compare it to recent trends as well as desired future conditions. Measuring the gap of “what is and what is desired” will clearly point out collective actions the community can take to preserve and continuously improve the quality of life in Otsego County.

Read part two of this article series: “Otsego County examines Quality of Life.”

MSU Extension’s community engagement and leadership development team can offer supplemental educational programming for community-based projects such as these. To learn more about this and other programs contact an expert in your area, visit people.msue.msu.edu, or call 888-MSUE4MI (888-678-3464).

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