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December NLEA Economic News

Michigan Business Network
December 30, 2021 5:00 PM

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The latest economic news from around the region.
Plus Core Partner Updates!
Since the annual NLEA Business Showcase was held virtually this year, the award recipients had to wait to receive the actual awards! Here are a couple we've visited so far.
NLEA awarding Truestream Project of the Year
Truestream, a subsidiary of Great Lakes Energy, was awarded Project of Year for its commitment to bring the best fiber technology to the 26 counties they serve throughout Michigan. [L-R: David Emmel, Bill Scott, Shaun Lamp, Buck Love]
NLEA awarding Nancy Lindsay Guts
Nancy Lindsay, of Citizens National Bank received NLEA badge of honor Guts & Grit that recognizes a person or organization as a major part of their community, business, or organization, always supporting others with time, sponsorships, and guidance. [L-R: Jessica Lovay, Nancy Lindsay, David Emmel, Angie Ross]
Joining Jordan complete!
Joining Jordan video clip
Last week, East Jordan cut the ribbon on the city’s new Joining Jordan project.
The project cost over $2 million with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation taking care of most of the funds. The City was responsible for approximately 10% of the costs.
In the beginning stages, Northern Lakes Economic Alliance assisted with obtaining the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) that lead to completion of the project.
The Joining Jordan project completely upgrades the walkway near the marina and links the east and west sides of the city together. Along with the walkway, they also added two pavilions and a waterfront park.
Chairman of the East Jordan Downtown Development Authority, Tom Teske, said it also allows for the possibility of future projects. “We also feel very fortunate that it opens up some other parcels for redevelopment that we hope to have private redevelopment come forth,” he said.
If your community is interested in learning more about a CDBG, contact Jessica Lovay at jess@northernlakes.net
Massive broadband expansion coming to Cheboygan County
NLEA has made a priority to proliferate gigabit high-speed, reliable and cost effective broadband services throughout the Northern Lakes Economic Alliance region. The economic future of Michigan communities depends not only upon whether robust broadband infrastructure is present but also upon whether businesses and individuals fully utilize that technology to grow and develop local economies.
The Cheboygan County Economic Development Corporation (EDC) identified Technology as a leading priority for countywide development with a strong focus on supporting energy and broadband initiatives. To that end, they teamed up with Connected Nation to engage in the Connected Community Engagement Program. Designed to facilitate broadband and technology expansion, Connected offers start-to-finish guidance that measures supply, demand, and use of technology in communities with unprecedented data gathering, analysis, and planning. With Connected, Cheboygan successfully mapped their local technology ecosystem, identified many gaps, and are moving forward with support and solutions to improve their standing digital economy.
“Cheboygan County is experiencing a general rising tide of growth and investment. With this new momentum comes the perfect opportunity to capture and focus some of that energy into long term solutions that support sustainable and healthy communities, like a comprehensive broadband plan.” shares EDC chair, Sharen Lange. She continues, “Stakeholder partners throughout Cheboygan County activated quickly to support the Connected survey and helped create a clear picture of what our internet looks like. In doing so, we can now take it to the next level, guiding decisions that are data driven for a future with vastly improved access.”
The economic value of NCMC
North Central Michigan College (NCMC) influences both the lives of its students and the regional economy. The college supports a variety of industries in the Four-County Region, serves regional businesses, and benefits society as a whole in Michigan from an expanded economy and improved quality of life. The benefits created by NCMC even extend to the state and local government through increased tax revenues and public sector savings. Below is in infographic displaying the results of an economic survey that reflects fiscal year 2018-19.
NCMC econ impact 2020
Creating a worker with more skills
IAI training
If you’d like your workers to have a set of skills, teach them.
For Carmeuse Americas Calcite Operations, teaching new skills has made a difference to their operations. One of the world’s leading manufacturers in limestone and limestone products, Carmeuse hires specialized and general workers for their quarry operations. While they don’t hire welders, welding is on their list of desired skills for any new employee.
Industrial Arts Institute of Onaway met all Comerford’s requirements, providing essential welding training to her teams in just four days.
Understanding employer needs is part of Industrial Arts Institute’s DNA. IAI’s relationships with local industry inform the curriculum of their 19-week comprehensive welding program and their trademark “employer-based” education model that acclimates students to real world expectations.
It means a lot that Industrial Arts Institute is willing to offer us training specific to our needs and at a time that works for our operations,” Comerford added. “And the team was blown away by the chance to learn from Tom Moran. His experience and depth of knowledge added so much value to their experience.”
Six Carmeuse employees completed four days of training in shielded metal arc welding, and another six completed gas metal arc welding and flux cored arc welding training the following week, offered on their 7AM to 3PM schedule onsite at Industrial Arts Institute in Onaway, Michigan.
Comerford applied for a Going Pro Talent Fund grant to pay for the training, a program that Industrial Arts Institute hopes other employers will take advantage of. “The purpose of the Going Pro Talent Fund grant is to support employers’ efforts to train their current workforce,” Ward said. “As employers face mounting challenges sourcing and hiring workers – all workers, not just welders – these funds provide them with additional incentive to take advantage of training programs like ours.”
Cheboygan seeks Community Development Fellow to spearhead city-wide projects
Cheboygan is seeking applicants for the CEDAM Community Development Fellowship, a 15-month paid position that will help expand organizational capacity and take on a variety of development projects in Cheboygan. The fellow will work full-time beginning October 2021. 
Cheboygan was one of 10 Redevelopment Ready Communities (RRC) selected by the Community Economic Development Association of Michigan (CEDAM) and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) to host fellows for 2021-22. The fellow will take on various projects that aid in community economic development, ultimately helping promote equity and improve quality of life for those who live or work in Cheboygan. Some potential projects our fellow will work on include, increasing the viability of Cheboygan’s Industrial Park and Port of Cheboygan, enhancing and modernizing communications through website updates, and researching how to form a recreation authority.
“The CEDAM Fellowship is a great opportunity for individuals to gain professional experience in the community development sector, and for host communities to take on additional projects,” says Rachel Diskin, director of capacity building at CEDAM. “Through this program, we are able to help Michigan expand the range of what’s possible and, at the end of the day, address critical needs to make their community stronger.”
The deadline to apply for the fellowship is July 26. To learn more about the position and how to apply, visit cedamichigan.org/fellowship.
Free business education webinars!
Turning your business idea into a market-ready product or service can seem like a confusing process. Michigan SBDC offers an array of free business education webinars along with one-on-one business consulting to make that process as simple as possible.
From learning how to write a business plan to marketing tips, check out their free business education webinars to help to feel confident as you get started. See a list of upcoming trainings:
Monday, July 26 at 10:00 AM
Monday, July 26 at 1:00 PM
Tuesday, July 27 at 1:00 PM
Housing crisis impacts everyone
By Steve Schnell, Charlevoix County’s Housing Ready Program Director with Housing North
Housing North logo
Everyone is impacted by our housing crisis in some way or another. The current housing market is quite lucrative if you own a home or any residential investment. But if you are not currently a homeowner, you will most likely struggle to find something within your budget. Across the state, especially northern Michigan middle income families $250k and above are being pushed out or moved to house prices above their comfort levels ($400k+). Even if you own a home and can make your mortgage payments, you are still impacted by the housing crisis.
The following are some examples of how housing challenges impact the vitality of our communities:
Hiring - If you are an employer, you are finding it harder to recruit employees who do not already live here. Your employees are living farther away, which means that the reliability of their transportation is more important than ever, and the costs of their transportation are higher than ever. This creates a situation where employees are susceptible to leaving for a job closer to where they live in the other community where they may be more invested. Data shows people who live closer to their job are more likely to work and they experience shorter terms of joblessness.
School Enrollment - If the community does not have housing adequate for its residents there will be families who are not able to live within the school district. School enrollment will continue to decline. Local businesses that need seasonal help, which often rely on young family members, will not have adequate staffing to serve their customers. Service at local restaurants and retail stores will suffer.
Short Term Rental Competition - Housing price increases are partially due to competition for short-term rentals. Homes that used to be rented long term are now being converted to short term rentals, reducing the number of year-round housing units, and increasing home prices. Renters may have difficulty finding a place to rent as more long-term rentals are converted to short term vacation rentals. In fact, currently there is a bill (HB 4722) working its way through the state legislature that could take away local control of these short-term rentals.
Representation in local government - Many of those who need housing that is not met by the market are not often represented in local government. People who struggle with housing are often working more than one job and do not have the time to dedicate to a volunteer or elected position. When given an opportunity to grow into housing as your life situation changes and your career evolves, typically beginning as a renter and evolving into a small starter home then owning a larger family home, a person and then a family can become an integral part of the community.
For more information on programs to ensure quality homes for everyone, please visit the Housing North resources online at homesforourfuture.org or call Steve Schnell, Charlevoix County’s Housing Ready Program Director with Housing North at 231-330-7070 or steve@housingnorth.org.
Videos you will want to share
We love videos that motivate and educate. Share yours with us! If you have one or see something inspirational, send it our way. We'll pass it on!
econ dev legos video
Economic development tastes good! A fun explanation of how a community benefits from economic development.
IEDC video clip
How the International Economic Development Council helped businesses enter new markets.
Core Partner Corner
Find out what our Core Partners are up to!
More Innovation Alliance recipients
NLIA Innovation logo
NLEA held its second Northern Lakes Innovation Alliance event for innovators in various industries to pitch their start-up or growth idea for a chance to receive grant funding. This event focused on the Value-Added Agriculture Industry. Funds for the Northern Lakes Innovation Alliance are provided by Consumer's Energy and the DTE Foundation.
David Emmel said, " The value-added agriculture in our region provides so many opportunities for job growth. These entrepreneurs are taking raw materials and adding value by creating a whole new product. It's not just produce, it's produce bundled and delivered to your doorstep."
The award recipients were:
Danu Hof NLIA award
The Innovation event also provides connections within the NLEA business, resource and financing networks as well as access to early-stage funding and the potential to meet other inventors and investors. The program is designed to cultivate a culture of innovation and problem-solving throughout Northern Michigan.
Happy Holidays!
2021 seasons greetings
Save the Date!
Mark your calendars for May 13, 2022 for the NLEA Economic Symposium. An event focused on the future of our regional economy. Stay tuned, details to come.
5.13.22 NLEA Symposium
Welcome Sam Bailey!
Sam Bailey NLEA Intern
Sam Bailey, the former 2021 DTE Foundation Summer Intern is now full time Strategic Initiatives Manger with NLEA beginning January 1, 2022.
Bailey will be assuming the new role of Strategic Initiatives Manager with the NLEA. The role will allow him to continue to provide business intelligence and economic research to the
organization, its investors, and other stakeholders while taking on a larger role in the day-to-day operations of the NLEA. Additionally, he will contribute to key organizational programs like our annual reports, internship program, and our upcoming Economic Symposium on Friday, May 13th.
Bailey shared that he is “...excited to continue my data work while taking on more responsibilities that allow me to support the NLEA’s mission to uplift the area through economic and community development.”
Give Sam a big welcome!
Industry 4.0 resources for manufacturers
Industry 4.0
The Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) launched an
Industry 4.0 initiative to support small manufacturers. NLEA hosted an informational webinar early December to provide details on the initiative. Some resources from the webinar are listed below:
Learn more about Industry 4.0 by contacting Jennifer Deamud, Manufacturing Growth Alliance, 616-617-7467 or jenn@MGAlliance.org
This program is funded by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.
Coworking space to continue in Charlevoix
charlevoix vault
Charlevoix Area Chamber of Commerce plans continuation of The Vault Coworking Space in Downtown Charlevoix. Launched in 2019 by the Charlevoix Main Street, DDA, The Vault Coworking Space in Downtown Charlevoix offers flexible workspace for our community of entrepreneurs and remote workers. As the coworking space and model has evolved over the last two years, it is now planned to fold under the services and initiatives of the Charlevoix Area Chamber of Commerce.
“When looking to the future of The Vault, both as a workspace and in the prospective services to be offered for entrepreneurs, it was a clear fit for the operations and activities of a Chamber of Commerce. We aim to be a resource, convener, and supporter for our area businesses, and we look forward to joining The Vault community into those efforts” said Sarah Van Horn, President of the Charlevoix Area Chamber of Commerce.
The Vault offers private offices, private desks, and coworking desks for daily, weekly, and monthly users, along with a conference room available to rent. With the Chamber overseeing the space and building on its’ existing partnerships, services such as consulting and training opportunities, business support, promotion, and community connections plan to be expanded.
“We are excited to build on the flexible work environment that many remote workers are seeking, while offering pathways for furthered business involvement and growth for our Vault members”, said Van Horn. “We have a strong foundation built by the Charlevoix Main Street, DDA, and hope to continue creating a successful space to benefit the community.”
GLE & NLEA help grower with $3.65 M expansion project
Riley Orchard
Great Lakes Energy recently helped an Oceana County agricultural business secure a $900,000 zero-interest loan to help finance a $3.65 million expansion project that will benefit not only the business but also the surrounding community.
With assistance from the Northern Lakes Economic Alliance, Mears-based Riley Orchards was able to take advantage of Great Lakes Energy’s Zero-percent Loan Program funded in cooperation with the United States Department of Agriculture. The program allows nonprofit utilities such as GLE to serve as a “pass-through” for federal economic development loans for “projects that will create or retain rural jobs.”
GLE President and CEO Bill Scott (and NLEA past-Board Chair) said he is pleased the cooperative could contribute to Riley Orchards’ project.
“We are proud to support family-run businesses such as Riley Orchards as they work to grow their operations. Community focus is one of GLE’s guiding principles and we are happy to use this program in pursuit of that principle,” Scott said.
Riley said the zero-interest loan from Great Lakes Energy is expected to reduce the pay-back time on the debt for the project by about three years.
He said he expects the project to result in the business adding two full-time and up to 35 part-time positions. The new facility is well on its way to completion and is expected to be ready for operation in the spring of 2022.
We are hiring!
NLEA is seeking a dynamic and innovative leader in the field of economic and community development to serve as the Business Development Director. You will provide leadership in the development and implementation of economic development initiatives focused on People, Place, and Prosperity and in alignment with both local needs and regional strategies. Full job description and requirements on our website.
Welding Skills Lab launches
A new after-hours Welding Skills Lab is being offered to participants of all ages interested in developing their welding skills to enhance a current career, start a new career, or pursue a hobby. The need for welders throughout northern Michigan, the state, and country remains high. Registration is now open.
Offered through Northwest Michigan Works, Northwestern Michigan College, Char-Em ISD, and East Jordan Public Schools, the Welding Skills Lab will be held at the East Jordan High School Welding Lab. Classes begin Thursday, Jan. 20, 2022 and will be held every Monday and Thursday from 4-6 p.m. for 15 weeks. The classes will be taught by East Jordan High School Welding teacher, David Muladore, who has 40 years of welding experience in the industry and in the classroom. Upon successful completion, participants will earn AWS Level 1, 2 or 3 certifications.
Register by January 7 at bit.ly/weldskillslab
Broadband Infrastructure update
NTIA (the National Telecommunications Information Agency), along with Michigan's Merit Network recently (December 9, 2021) held an overview webinar on Federal broadband programs, their foci, and timelines. Learn more in this video.
Watch the webinar - Bridging the Digital Divide: Explore Broadband Funding in the Infrastructure Bill. Contact Buck Love or Eric Grandstaff at NLEA for more information.
Core Partner Corner
Find out what our Core Partners are up to!
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