Grow Benzie is helping our Northern Michigan community become forward-focused by working to serve as a community hive. Through new systems, planning and streamlining they can help create systemic change. Learn how you can support this project and additional Northern Michigan nonprofits featured in our 2021 GIVE issue.
The wave of COVID change has not only intensified the need in our small towns and rural areas but is also demanding nimbleness and creativity requiring communities to come together, work smarter and unify their visions and strengths. Josh Stoltz, executive director of Grow Benzie, says his organization is ready to help make that happen.

Grow Benzie is already dedicated to strengthening the community as a nonprofit focused on increasing access to healthful foods, jobs, life skills and each other, while also providing a multi-purpose community center that nurtures activities in Benzie County, offering space and networking for other nonprofits.

But, now, Stoltz sees the nonprofit also functioning as a super-connector, a sort of community hive where long-term impactful planning and visioning come together to create major systemic change, not just for Benzie County, but also for the entire five-county area.

“We see ourselves as helping the community be forward-focused and self-reliant,” Stoltz says. “We can be that entity that helps build systems, facilitate planning and growth, identifies social and economic issues, streamlines and creates efficiency and prevents duplication of efforts among entities.”

In short, it means the needs of the community get addressed better, faster, from a grass-roots perspective and with less cost and less dependency on state and local government.
It’s a bit abstract, as far as nonprofit work goes, Stoltz admits—but it couldn’t be more critical. “We’re facing challenges in our county that need a multi-faceted approach and understanding that also connects sectors,” he explains. “But who is going to lead that charge? Who will execute the coordination?”

Stoltz, his board members and various community stakeholders spent the last year poring over 70 existing strategic plans from local organizations and municipalities to help create a 10-year plan for Grow Benzie and the surrounding community that paves the way for them to step in where there are critical gaps.The collaboration on that effort alone created the kind of cross-talk and resource sharing that Stoltz has been aiming for all along—farmers talking to enviro folks, educators talking to the local hospital or sheriff, people and organizations coming together from across the county to identify the social and economic challenges they can face together.

Grow Benzie is excited to welcome donors to participate in this next phase of growth as they innovate how nonprofits work together. Support their efforts by donating at growbenzie.org.

This Article Was First Featured in Northern Michigan GIVE 2021

Read more Northern Michigan nonprofit stories and learn how to donate and volunteer in the free edition of MyNorth GIVE 2021. You can also preview and purchase our digital issues Traverse, Northern Michigan’s Magazine or subscribe and get Traverse delivered to your door each month.

Northern Michigan GIVE 2021 by MyNorth

Photo(s) by Grow Benzie

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