CUPPAD, Mich. Works! partner

ESCANABA – A recently-increased collaborative effort between the Central Upper Peninsula Planning And Development Regional Commission and Michigan Works! The Job Force Board is expected to improve efficiency, according to local officials.

The collaboration is not a full merger of the two parties, according to former CUPPAD executive director Lloyd Matthes, whose position was recently eliminated after being offered an employee buyout. Instead, he said some of the ancillary services, such as typing and other functions, will be done at Michigan Works!, which already handles CUPPAD’s bookkeeping.

“The reason is simply a cost-saving factor,” said Matthes. “It’s trying to be as careful with our money as possible. The governor has been pushing these collaborations for about a year now. We’ve been looking at it for almost a year or two years.”

He said through the reorganization of CUPPAD, most people won’t notice a change.

“Basically, this is about providing good service and being cost-effective,” reiterated Matthes. “I have a fabulous staff here. They’re very capable, very knowledgeable about what they are doing.”

Joel Schultz, Upper Peninsula regional director for the Michigan Small Business & Technology Development Center works with Michigan Works! on strategic alignment with organizations.

“Our relationship started when CUPPAD’s CFO took a different position and rather than hire a new CFO, we contracted with them and provided some of those services for them,” explained Schultz, who noted collaborations such as the one with CUPPAD are nothing new. About 15 to 20 other organizations share similar collaborative relationships with them.

“The reasoning behind any collaboration is to find a synergy between the organizations to best deliver their mission,” he said, noting the parties share similar overall goals and are looking for ways to share resources. This could mean sharing administrative support or office space, for example, said Schultz.

There are no immediate plans to move CUPPAD, which is currently housed at 2415 14th Ave. S., Escanaba. However, Schultz said if this option proved to be efficient, it would be taken into consideration.

Though Matthes’ position has been downsized, there are no other job losses with the collaboration, he added.

CUPPAD serves Delta, Schoolcraft, Menominee, Marquette, Dickinson, and Alger counties, cities, townships and villages. The commission provides general planning support in a number of areas, including grant writing, community surveys, land use planning, recreation planning, economic and community development, transportation, hazard mitigation planning, mapping services, providing demographics information and more, according to its website.