MARQUETTE, Mich. (WJMN) – Marquette has been selected as one of three Michigan cities to be a part of the first phase of the MiNextCities Pilot Project. The three-year project will aim to address climate change, promote resiliency, improve infrastructure, and accelerate the use of clean energy, smart city technology, and efficient mobility solutions. 

The project is supported by a $3.5 million grant from the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) in partnership with NextEnergy. Marquette is joined by Dearborn and Flint as the cities selected for the pilot program.

EGLE the three pilot cities were chosen for their diversity in size, geography, capacity, utility services, and population demographics, and in line with the goals of the Office of Climate and Energy’s Catalyst Communities initiative, the MI Healthy Climate Plan, and the Office of Environmental Justice Public Advocate’s environmental justice focus

“MiNextCities will help develop a framework that communities across Michigan can use to implement sustainable measures to address climate impacts,” said Governor Gretchen Whitmer. “Flint, Dearborn, and Marquette have been chosen for the first phase of a three-year pilot program and I look forward to seeing how they use this grant to improve infrastructure, boost energy efficiency, and promote climate resiliency. Taken together, their actions will help us continue to pursue the roadmap to 2030 outlined in the MI Healthy Climate Plan and create good-paying jobs and economic prosperity for families, communities, and small businesses while addressing climate change head-on.”

EGLE says NextEnergy will guide the three cities in developing strategies to:

  • Reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Improve mobility and quality of life.
  • Increase attraction and retention of workers and businesses.
  • Enhance safety.
  • Boost private sector and community investment.

“We are ecstatic to have been selected to participate in the MiNextCities program,” said Marquette City Manager Karen Kovacs. “The timing is truly impeccable, as the city recently committed to developing a Climate Action Plan, which is in line with many of the initiatives outlined in the MiNextCities program. We look forward to working with consultants such as NextEnergy and Public Sector Consultants as we enter deeper into the ever-changing world of smart cities.”

Additionally, the program will develop a Community Smart City Readiness and Deployment Guide to help other communities tailor sustainability efforts to their own needs and challenges. Public Sector Consultants will facilitate stakeholder engagement and program assessment.

MiNextCities also will rely on input and perspectives from an advisory group of state agencies, nonprofits, community groups, and local project teams. Following consultations with residents and local leaders, MiNextCities will identify solutions and business models for each city, then work with the local community to deploy smart city initiatives.

“This is a multi-tiered approach that meets Michigan communities where they are and ensures they have the resources and know-how for a just transition to Michigan’s sustainable, clean-energy future,” said EGLE Director Liesl Clark. 

“MiNextCities will make Michigan a leader in the deployment of smart city solutions,” said NextEnergy President and CEO Jim Saber. “Michigan will be one of the first states to fully capture the benefits of next-generation smart energy and mobility solutions.”