NMU official brings U.P. perspective to infrastructure commission

NMU official brings U.P. perspective to infrastructure commission

MARQUETTE — A commission created by the governor to address Michigan’s long-term infrastructure plans is getting input from the Upper Peninsula.

Gavin Leach, Vice President for Finance and Administration and Treasurer of the Board of Trustees at Northern Michigan University, is the sole U.P. representative among those serving on the 21st Century Infrastructure Commission. Leach was recommended for the commission thanks to his work on the expansion of NMU’s wireless broadband network — an project that has focused on extending access in rural areas.

“I’ve lived here for the past 28 years,” said Leach. “I love the area, and I want to provide the input that can support the area, and there’s a lot of different needs in rural areas like the Upper Peninsula.”

In addition to laying out long-term investment plans for the next thirty to fifty years, the commission will decide how best to coordinate and maintain proposed improvements.

“You really want to step back and ensure that you’re planning things out so that it’s coordinated,” Leach added. “You really then can more efficiently use resources, which then allows you to do more with those resources.”

Governor Rick Snyder proposed the allocation of $165 million to a newly created Michigan Infrastructure Fund as part of the 2017 state budget. Assuming that proposal passes, the commission’s recommendations — which are due at the end of November — will help decide how to best use that funding.