Northwest Michigan Council of Governments

Benchmarks Northwest

Quality of Life Index Indicators and Community Assessment Tool for Northwest Michigan

An Introduction to Benchmarks Northwest

Benchmarks Northwest is a citizen and policy makers' guide to assess and monitor quality of life issues in our regional community. The counties included in Benchmarks Northwest are: Antrim, Benzie, Charlevoix, Emmet, Grand Traverse, Kalkaska, Leelanau, Manistee, Missaukee, and Wexford.

The community issues are categorized into the following areas of interest:

           Culture and Recreation   Health
  Economy & Employment   Infrastructure
  Education   Natural Resources & Environment
  Government   Population Dynamics



Click to listen to a brief interview about Benchmarks Northwest. Jack O'Malley and Colleen Wares interview Matt McCauley, Director of Regional Planning, Northwest Michigan Council of Governments, on WTCM-FM Radio.


Each interest area has a regional report which are comprised of various indicators geared toward that issue. The indicators are generated from secondary data from a variety of sources, and represent a regional view. The indicators look at the region as a whole, the indicators do not examine local variations. Only annually reported data with historical numbers back to the year 2000 are used which provides a benchmark from which to measure change among indicators. Indicators measure percent change from the most currently available data back to the year 2000 benchmark as well as the year prior to the most recent data. The ten reports do not offer any solutions and are presented in an objective manner as to build a foundation on which communities can base decisions.

The eight reports each give insight into aspects of quality of life in the region. However, Benchmarks Northwest reports should be taken as a whole in order to fully grasp the interconnectivity of issues impacting northwest lower Michigan.

Benchmarks Northwest flier (view/download/print)


The Data

You may access the data by clicking on your category of interest:


  Culture and Recreation           Health
  Economy and Employment   Infrastructure
  Education   Natural Resources
  Government   Population Dynamics


Project Sponsors

This project is supported and endorsed by:

  • Rotary Charities of Traverse City
  • Grand Traverse Regional Community Foundation
  • Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce
  • Planners Review and Advisory Committee
  • Northwest Michigan Council of Governments Board of Directors