Founded in 1993, the nonprofit Land Information Access Association (LIAA) works to foster and support sustainable, resilient communities across Michigan and around the Great Lakes. Rooted in civic engagement and grounded in local solutions, our mission is to help people shape better communities through participation, education, information and the effective use of technology.
LIAA was created to answer a need identified by citizens and public officials around Michigan. They wanted better access to information that could inform planning and resource management decisions at a community level.
Beginning in 1990, with grant funding from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the C.S. Mott Foundation and Rotary Charities of Traverse City, Dave Frey and Joe VanderMeulen set out to create Michigan’s first public information technologies designed to provide interactive digital maps, pictures, graphics and text that were relevant to community planning and development. Working with the Northwest Michigan Resource Conservation and Development Council (now known as Conservation Resource Alliance), they developed an information system that would inform local land-use decisions and foster greater civic engagement in community planning. The resulting touch-screen kiosks were placed in Elmwood, Acme, and Elk Rapids townships and received rave reviews. The systems had a significant impact on local decision-makers and the overall community planning processes.
The feedback on the kiosks, further research, and requests for similar projects from all parts of the state solidified the need to expand the project into something bigger. If citizens and public officials were going to work together to create more sustainable communities through informed planning and resource management, they needed better information, useful tools for engagement, improved intergovernmental cooperation, and educational assistance. At the time, no organization was dedicated to working on such problems.
With a great deal of encouragement and support, LIAA formed a volunteer Board of Directors and filed incorporation papers with the State of Michigan in July 1993. As stated in Article II of the incorporation papers:
"The purpose of the Land Information Access Association is to provide technical, scientific, educational, and informational services to individual citizens, local interest groups, local governments, and other nonprofit corporations for land-use planning, resource management, emergency management planning, and environmental protection."
Today, we usually just go by LIAA, and we continue to be rooted in those same principles. We are dedicated to helping communities find local and sustainable solutions, ensuring each community is informed and poised to meet the needs of the people who live, work and play there.
Through our services in community planning and development, LIAA engages clients, partners and stakeholders in collaborative processes to deliver innovative, responsive, locally-relevant solutions. We offer website, graphic design, video production and mapping services that help establish community identity, deliver important information, share unique local stories, and communicate with a broad range of audiences. Our team is creative and dynamic, and we are proud to partner with an amazing group of educational institutions, nonprofit organizations, agencies and governments around Michigan in our ongoing pursuit to make life better for everyone living in the Great Lakes region.