The Center for Local, State, and Urban Policy (CLOSUP), housed at the University of Michigan's Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, is an information resource for policymakers and practitioners, academics, students, the media, and the public. The Center conducts research and works to foster effective communication between academic researchers, stakeholders, and the policymakers dealing with today's pressing state, local, rural, and urban policy problems.

In the late 1990's, Michigan's legislature felt that the state's three main research universities—as semi-autonomous units of the state government—were not providing enough public service to the state, and so it permanently boosted its base-level general fund support to the universities, along with a new mandate to provide more public service. At U-M, this resulted in the creation of CLOSUP, in the fall of 2001.

Since its founding, the Center has been home to research initiatives on a range of policy issues important to the state and its localities, including energy and the environment, criminal justice, transportation, clean water, fiscal health, redistricting, citizen engagement, elections, and much more.

One of the Center's core programs and most important ways it tries to meet its mission of public service is the Michigan Public Policy Survey (MPPS), launched in 2009 as the nation's only ongoing census-style survey of every unit of general purpose local government across an entire state. Before the MPPS, there was no effective source of information to understand the priorities, perspectives, challenges, goals, and so on, for the state's 1,856 general purpose local governments and their communities. The MPPS fills that void.

The information gathered through the MPPS is actively cycled back into the policymaking process and public policy discussions at both the state and local levels across Michigan, helping local governments make budget and programmatic decisions, helping state departments better understand how to support and work with local governments, helping all policy stakeholders find better ways to engage with their local officials, and more. The program is a partnership with the state's main associations for local governments: the Michigan Association of Counties, the Michigan Municipal League, and the Michigan Townships Association.

Growing out of key findings in the MPPS, CLOSUP launched a second core ongoing research program in 2019: the Fiscal Health Project (FHP), which conducts research and outreach to improve understanding of the key factors that underlie local governments' ability to provide public services based on their finances. This is particularly important in Michigan because the state's system of funding local government is one of the most restrictive regimes in the country, limiting local governments' ability to sustainably provide adequate services to their communities.

CLOSUP also sponsors research conferences, seminars, workshops, and other events on topical policy issues. These events help integrate University of Michigan researchers and students with policymakers and practitioners, in part to help inform research with perspectives from the field, and in part to help inform policymaking with the latest knowledge from academic research.

The Center also facilitates student engagement with today’s critical policy issues through its CLOSUP in the Classroom Initiative, integrating Ford School students as policy analysts in the center's research activities, bringing the center's findings into the classroom, and supporting student engagement with external organizations focused on state and local policy.

To hear about upcoming events, our latest research, and more, sign up to join our email list, visit or follow us on Twitter @CLOSUP, or call us at 734-647-4091.