BERRIEN COUNTY, Mich. – April 23, 2024 - Cornerstone Alliance, the leading economic development organization in Berrien County, is proud to announce the Cornerstone Alliance Rural Readiness Program launch. This new program will equip communities with the knowledge and tools necessary to attract and support new housing and mixed-use development within their municipality.

The Rural Readiness Program offers a dual-track approach focusing on education and development readiness. Through comprehensive education sessions and tailored consulting services, participating municipalities will gain the insights and resources needed to position themselves for growth and revitalization.

"We are excited to launch the Rural Readiness Program and empower communities within Berrien County to thrive through strategic development initiatives," said Andrew Haan, Vice President of Business Development, for Cornerstone Alliance. "With the support of our partners and the valuable resources provided by the Rural Readiness Grant Program, we will drive sustainable growth and economic prosperity in Southwest Michigan."

One key component of the program is the Cornerstone Development Academy, a four-unit educational series that guides municipal staff and boards through the real estate redevelopment process from inception to completion. This academy provides valuable training and resources to empower local officials in navigating the complexities of development projects.

The first session, "Understanding the Real Estate Redevelopment Process," will take place on May 14, 2024, in The Oak Room at the Citadel. Participants will delve into the intricacies of planning, pre-development, and construction processes. Following this, on June 11, 2024, at the Royalton Township Offices, the session "Market Data: Turning Numbers into Opportunity" will equip attendees with the skills to comprehend and effectively communicate local market trends. Then, on June 20, 2024, at the Three Oaks Public Library, the focus will be on "Evaluation of Potential Sites + Real Estate Marketing 101," guiding individuals through assessing a property's assets and liabilities for potential redevelopment. Lastly, on August 15, 2024, at the Oronoko Township Hall, the "Proforma 101 and Understanding Incentives" session will provide a fundamental understanding of pro forma and incentives in real estate development.

Furthermore, four selected Focus Communities within Berrien County will receive a suite of services and consulting that address their specific needs and challenges. These tailored strategies, backed by custom data analysis, will enable these communities to implement targeted initiatives to stimulate development and economic resilience.

Cornerstone Alliance will provide the funding necessary for this program in part due to securing a grant through the Rural Readiness Grant Program. This funding will be instrumental in supporting the implementation of the Rural Readiness Program and addressing the unique needs of Berrien County. The Michigan Department of Agriculture & Rural Development (MDARD) Office of Rural Development is responsible for funding that will grow investment and population in the region.

For more information about Cornerstone Alliance and its initiatives, please visit www.GoMichigan.com