Betsie Valley Trail to be extended thanks to $1.4 million grant

US Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo recently announced the department’s Economic Development Administration is awarding a $1.4 million grant to the Northwest Michigan Council of Governments, in Traverse City, to boost the outdoor recreation sector by enhancing trail capacity along the Manistee County Rural Communities Multi-Use trail.

The grant is funded by the American Rescue Plan.

The project will extend the Betsie Valley Trail and construct a bridge over Bear Creek that will provide direct access from local communities to the trail. The EDA investment will be matched with $347,820 in local funds and is expected to create or retain 65 jobs and generate $500,000 in private investment, according to grantee estimates.

“President Biden recognizes the vital contribution the travel and tourism industry makes to the American economy,” Raimondo said in a news release. “This EDA investment underscores the Biden-Harris administration’s commitment to helping this critical sector not only recover from the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic but build back stronger and more equitably for the future.”

gov. Gretchen Whitmer said in the release the grant will help Michigan continue to grow its economy, create jobs and invest in every region of the state.

“Earlier this year, I signed the bipartisan Building Michigan Together Plan, which made the largest one-time investment in our state and local parks in state history, bolstering countless tourism and recreation businesses across Michigan,” she said. (Tuesday’s) grant builds on that plan to invest in pure Michigan and will help us keep moving forward.”

sen. Gary Peters said Michigan’s public lands are not only key natural and economic resources, but “they are part of our state’s DNA.”

“These funds I helped secure as part of the American Rescue Plan will make investments in Manistee and Benzie counties that will enhance local trails, boost tourism and support jobs,” he said in the release.

The project is funded under EDA’s $240 million competitive American Rescue Plan Travel, Tourism and Outdoor Recreation program. EDA awarded $510 million in grants to all 50 states and territories in 2021. The two programs are designed to accelerate the recovery of communities that rely on the travel, tourism and outdoor recreation sectors.

Effective May 26, 2022, EDA has officially closed all of its American Rescue Plan programs for applications. The $3 billion program funding will be awarded on a rolling basis through Sept. 30, 2022.

Michigan’s outdoor recreation industry supports billions in state gross domestic product and sustains 126,000 jobs and over $4.7 billion in wages and salaries in the state.

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