EDC Director's Report

Arenac County EDC Director's Report

Projects for this Month:

USDA Home Repair Loans in Arenac County

The USDA has a new grant program as part of their rural development initiative which gives local residents funds to help with home repairs to help fight blight. The grant can be for up to $7,500 and has to be repaid to the USDA if the house is sold in the 3 years after it is renovated.

  • This month I talked to Kelly from the USDA office in Caro, and I set down to talk a little bit more about the program and she gave me information for people who may be interested in participating
  • We also took this time to set a date and a time to do the home repair loan informational meeting. For this meeting, she asked if she could bring in local partners who will help fund home repair loans for people who don't meet the income or location requirements for the USDA programs.
  • That being said, this informational meeting will be a lot bigger than we initially planned and I hope to have a good turnout for the USDA and our partners.
  • Meeting date: September 19th, 6:30-7:30pm at the Standish Michigan Works (fliers to come)

EMCOG Mini-Grants Program

(G4)-Arenac was able to submit two grants to the EMCOG Mini-Grant program. We were just two of many applications that were turned in and EMCOG was surprised at the response.

  • There was $250,000 worth of proposals submitted to EMCOG and they only have $100,000 in funding. Because of this, some projects are already looking for other funding avenues since over half of the grants submitted will be denied.
  • To help pick up the slack we decided at our regional MEDC meeting this Tuesday to fund a Gratiot County grant that is a feasibility study to see how much business is being lost in Michigan due to 127 having a section of road being only 65mph.
  • We will hear back on which grants have been accepted in early August. What plans would we like to put in place in case these projects aren't funded?

Connect Michigan

(G3) - I talked to Tom Stephenson and he let me know that our Connect Plan has been finalized and that it is our official action plan going forward. All the miscellaneous information that was needed to complete the project has been pieced together and we now have a final plan.

  • Now that the plan is complete, what do you think would be the best way to distribute this information?
  • Connect Michigan Action Steps:
    • Access 1-Perform a broadband build-out analysis and validate demand
      • Completed through the broadband surveys and the formation of the Connect Michigan team. Meeting continuously as a team until the action steps are completed is a necessary part of this step.
    • Access 2-Perform an analysis of local policies and ordinances
      • Looking for someone interested in heading up this action step in the Connect Michigan Plan. This includes restrictions on tower height in cities, townships, and the county and any other barriers internet providers might face when developing this area.
    • Access 5-Complete a vertical assets inventory
      • Ogemaw County just completed their vertical assets inventory. They were able to complete in through a grant and it took them two years to compile all the needed information. I would be willing to start on this step from a research point of view and figure out what our next steps are. I would like help and partnership on this action step.
    • Adoption 2-Promote low cost broadband services
      • I have offered to help with the schools and working with them to promote the affordable high-speed internet program that was launched earlier this year in Kalamazoo. Thus far I have talked to the main contact with their Connect Michigan team about their fliers and marketing strategies.
    • Adoption 5-Cybersecurity classes
      • Arleen Wood from the library has been working with Iosco County to put on cybersecurity classes and would like to start doing the same thing in Arenac County. We have set up our first two cybersecurity courses for this area.
      • Cybersecurity Classes: August 15th, 9am-11am and January 16th, 9am-11am at Standish Michigan Works and January 16th, 9am-11am
      • We need to promote this upcoming event. If you know any places that could use a few flyers, please let me know so we can put them up.
      • Flyers will be created soon to be able to advertise the event. We are also looking at doing some radio adds as well to make sure that people know we are offering this free class as part of our Connect Michigan Plan.
    • Adoption 7-Social media/tourism workshop for local businesses
      • Carl Sapp volunteered to help with the logistics and research of social media classes for local businesses. We intend to look at other Connect Michigan plans that have been implemented to see what they covered, how the event worked, and how they were marketed.
    • Adoption 10-Explore web-enabled formats for K-12 course delivery
      • Through the GLBRA all the counties are given access to the program called Middle School Math. This is an online, interactive, math program that is funded through grants. I will look into this to see how much it's been utilized in Arenac County school districts and what other online learning options schools are already using.
  • Also, I will be working on crafting the last few necessary paragraphs for the report and have a firm list of our priority goals going forward.

211 Northeast Michigan

(G3) This month I was able to reach out to Sarah Kile from 211 Northeast Michigan in regards to some questions I had about support they could give to local Employee Retention Networks. She let me know that with the help and support we were looking for at Vantage Plastics, there wasn't much she could do, but she did say that their services help serve many small businesses, especially in Midland where they have taken full advantage of the program.

  • Sarah offered to do a presentation on 211 Northeast Michigan and how they can help with employee retention for small businesses throughout Arenac County. She will be doing a brief informational session on October 16th, noon-1pm at Standish Michigan Works. This will be a great event to help serve some of our smaller businesses in the county.

Chamber of Commerce Membership-Both the chamber of commerce membership letters have come in. To be a member of the Standish Chamber it costs $125 and to be a member of the Au Gres Chamber it costs $150.

Retention Visits-As you know I have been completing retention visits all spring and turning those results into the MEDC and for every visit they have been paying local EDCs $200. They have reviewed our first batch of retention visits and we have been given a check from MEDC for $1,200

  • They have said that despite the fact that these paid visits have been returning a lot of good information and that the MEDC has a better understanding of what is happening with businesses in our counties, they will not be providing this program next year.
  • I have submitted five more retention visits for review and I'm hoping to do a few more before the final deadline of September 30th.

Vantage Plastics Employee Retention Network-I have been part of the Employee Retention Network that was started at Vantage Plastics. This ERN has now been in operation for over a year and they are slowly starting to see success at Vantage with this program being in place.

  • By this fall we're hoping to have enough results from this program to introduce it to other manufacturers in Arenac County. We hope to have an informational meeting at the Michigan Works office in November to showcase what Vantage has gained from making this a part of their workplace culture.

Great Lake Bay Regional Alliance Meeting-At the meeting this month they talked about their next steps forward for marketing and how they intend to reach out to their leads that they've gathered overseas.

  • In the next few months Breaha Wallins and Matt Felan will be traveling to Chicago, Philadelphia, Indianapolis, Dallas, and Las Vegas to showcase the Great Lakes Bay Region and all we have to offer.
  • As you all know they have been doing an international tour for last six months and they have decided to stay local for a while as they start to do one-on-one meetings with prospective businesses.

  • Breaha sent out a list of all the leads that they have right now for the EDC boards to look at. She would like us to spend time going through the list to see if there are any connections that we might have to business leaders on the list. If you do have a connection with any of these businesses or leaders please let her know so she can work with you to help secure their relocation to the Bay region.