April - June 2020
Quarterly Economic Development Report

Director's Message
Even in trying circumstances, economic development projects and prospects continued to move forward to create new opportunities in the Manistee area. This optimistic and fortunate situation kept our team very busy during the second quarter. The Chamber was following leads, providing information, and conducting both remote and in-person meetings. We also recognized opportunities to advance business interests with new programs that address customer and visitor needs in our downtown district.  

Remaining flexible, yet focused on our priorities, has helped move several exciting developments towards our goals. 

We greatly appreciate your continued support of this vital work for economic development and new entrepreneurs.  

Priority Projects

Gateway to Downtown : Worked with Little River Holdings, LLC on timeline and strategy for the project, explored funding opportunities with state agencies, the City of Manistee, and the County Planning Department. Little River Holdings, LLC continues to make progress on this project and hosted meetings with community stakeholders. 

West Shore Community College Downtown
Construction started and is underway after COVID-19 related delays. The Chamber participated in meetings to move additional economic development tenants into this project. The Chamber also facilitated conversations to move forward a lease agreement with the college.

Retention Visits Three remote retention visits were conducted with area businesses during the quarter. COVID-19 has altered the traditional retention visit format.  

New Manufacturing

Project Retro Recreation - Frequent contact has been maintained with the company on status and progress. Component suppliers were idle during the stay at home orders, but have resumed production.  

Industry Targets :

Senior Housing Project - Developer has submitted an application to MSHDA and is awaiting approval, which could happen later in the summer. Previous assistance from Chamber helped answer questions on the site location. More information may be needed from the developer, the Chamber, and the City.  

Boathouse Restaurant - Leads were generated by contacting existing restaurant owners. One in-person meeting took place with a developer/operator, the Chamber, and the City. Significant interest on this project can be reported, and more assistance in the next quarter from the Chamber will be needed.

Restaurant Recruitment - There are two additional restaurant developers seeking three existing restaurant properties. We will focus on this in the next quarter with representatives and current owners.   

Filer Township Housing Development #1 (Starter Homes Project) - Project will target mid-range homes to meet market demand. Continued discussions with a potential developer for a project of 12-15 single-family homes has taken place. Engaged the City to determine infrastructure possibilities and costs then passed the information onto the developer. The developer is working towards a decision on acquisition.  

Filer Township Housing Project #2 - A number of discussions were held with a second developer to explore an additional 20-acre parcel. The township holds the parcel and will release a request for proposal.  The Chamber will assist the developer on submitting a proposal.  

Hollander Housing Development - Conversation with Joe Hollander on progress with the apartment complex. Construction should begin in the next few months.

Amor Sign Property - Toured the Amor property downtown with a prospective developer. Further assistance with details will be needed with both the seller and buyer. 

 Downtown Reinvigoration Plan - The Chamber implemented the Downtown Reinvigoration Plan for additional outdoor seating and curbside pick up spaces. Approximately 35 hours were spent working out details during the past month with city officials and downtown merchants. Two restaurants are currently taking advantage of the program.

Upcoming Expansions/Groundbreakings

  • M R Products    
  • Iron Fish Distillery

New Available Properties of Interest for Development

Recently two prime redevelopment properties were listed for sale. 

1. Lakeshore Motel - 2-acre property
2. Seng’s Manistee Lake - 8-acre parcel

Business Start-up Targets

Manistee Adventure - Assistance was provided to a new business owner who wanted to offer recreation rental equipment to beaches and downtown. Connected business owner with the city for permitting process and other resources. The requests were approved and a successful business is operating at multiple locations.  

Art Project - Followed up with 2020 SPARK winner and provided assistance on moving forward with new business. We brainstormed with the entrepreneur on successful business models and strategies for her service-oriented business during the coronavirus pandemic.

Funding for Businesses

Industrial Development Corporation Grants

A huge thank you to one of our investors, the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) stepped up and granted $30,000
to 12 businesses in need, with assistance from the Chamber. We provided the process and scoring from the unfunded applicants from the MEDC's Michigan Small Business Relief Fund grant process from the previous month. 

The IDC selected the following grant recipients: 

  • McDougall Electric
  • Done-Rite Remodeling
  • Goody's Juice & Java
  • Annie’s Kozy Kitchen
  • Rosie’s Place
  • Iron Fish Distillery
  • Two Slices
  • Jackpine Business Center
  • The Outpost of Manistee
  • A&A Marine
  • Muffler Man Manistee
  • Pier Pressure Charters

Small Business
Restart Program

In response to the Economic Impact Of COVID-19, The State
of Michigan has allocated $100 Million of CARES Act Funding to implement the Michigan Small Business Restart Program. The funding will support the needs of Michigan Businesses directly impacted by COVID-19. The application for businesses to apply for funding will open on July 15, 2020 .

Additionally, at least 30% of the funds awarded under this program will be provided to Women-Owned, Minority-Owned, Or Veteran-Owned Eligible Businesses. 

For More Information On Grant Eligibility  Click Here .

Our team will be working with Networks Northwest our regional partner on this program. As a region in this round we will receive $4.5 million, which is a significant increase from the first round of grants from the MEDC.

It will require more hours of scoring, outreach to businesses and working with our regional partners weekly on this project. 
Priority Areas
  • Lead Business Retention, Attraction, and Growth
  • Talent/Workforce Development
  • Growing Entrepreneurs and Necessary Career Skills
  • Outdoor Recreation and Tourism
  • Placemaking and Housing Needs
  • Building a Collaborative Environment and Effective Communications
Economic Development Council Members
Sarah Anderson, Iron Fish Distillery
James Barker, Munson Healthcare Manistee
Stacie Bytwork, Manistee Area Chamber
Jeff Dontz, Manistee County
Dennis McCarthy, Blarney Castle Oil & Propane
Jim Reithel, Martin Marietta, Inc.
Tom St. Dennis, Little River Holdings, LLC
Thad Taylor, City of Manistee
Scott Ward, West Shore Community College
Thank you, Economic Development Investors!
CLICK HERE for previous quarterly reports, newsletters, advocacy reports and COVID-19 updates.