The Economic Development program has been participating in and building momentum with several catalyst-type investments and projects. These include the Hillcrest Apartments, West Shore Community College Manistee Center, the Hampton Inn and Suites, and the Gateway Spirit of the Woods project. There have also been other momentum-building projects in business development and expansion like M R Products, Iron Fish Distillery, Thoroughbred Boat Company, and North Channel Brewing.  

This year our community will see some tangible movements in the demolition of blighted buildings and the construction of such catalysts - the Hampton Inn and Suites by 6PM Hospitality and Pioneer Construction is up first. Our work in the first quarter of 2022 can be characterized by providing assistance on the Gateway and Hampton projects, as well as fielding and assisting interest from new developers and entrepreneurs.

You will see in this report that we are transitioning to a new style of reporting, which started in March and will provide richer details about our economic development work. The direction from our Economic Development Council members about reports was to focus on the important, tangible work, and provide more information if we can make it easier and less time-consuming. Our creative staff did just that, and you will have a different look and feel, particularly in the future.  

Thank you, as always, for your support and investment, and we look forward to continuing to make a difference in our community with this important work.
Lakeshore Hotel Project
  • The City Council held required hearings on the Commercial Rehabilitation Act incentive requested by the developer, and it was approved on Feb. 1.  
  • The Chamber planned and supported a project launch event on March 4.
  • Developers have completed abatement work inside the former building, and demolition is now underway and expected to be complete by mid-April.  
  • A May 2023 open date is scheduled.  

Downtown Gateway Project
  • Moving toward a phased development approach.  
  • Professional estimators completed cost estimates
  • Pro forma documents are complete.  
  • A hotel brand and specific hotel line has been identified and negotiations for brand monetary support are ongoing.  
  • Official demolition work plans have been approved by EGLE and the City with approval for the start of demolition. A work plan for traffic and other public safety measures during demolition and construction has been created and agreed to. Exclusionary fencing and utility rerouting are up and in process.  
  • Developers and consultants continue to move through requirements for brownfield plans, and state assistance on this transformational project. 

Fricano’s Manistee River Restaurant 
  • A great deal of work has occurred in the remodel of the blighted property on the infrastructure of the building - new exhausts, HVAC, and freezers and coolers are being installed.  
  • Interior work continues on the project, and the City and Chamber have been working with Fricano’s on a number of items, including a partnership with the City in a federal grant to improve the riverwalk.  
  • There is a collaborative mindset and community focus with this new business.
  • Ted Fricano announced on social media that he will have a May ‘22 opening. 
Downtown Manistee Development
  • There has been interest in developing sites in the downtown district for commercial and housing projects.
  • We are focused on providing a first point of contact for interested investors and providing assistance.

Third Life Brewing
  • The Chamber has been working with a new microbrewery startup that will lease the space in the Ironworks Building.

Developer Incentive Package and Developer Assistance Onboarding Form
  • An onboarding form was finalized that will help deliver needed information and service to new developers while allowing for better communication with planning and other needed staff. It can also be utilized to screen out developers with less experience and resources, who may need assistance with business planning. 
  • Research and work on a developer incentive matrix were performed and presented on March 8.  
  • More presentations and work are needed.  
Business Retention and Expansion Visits
  • There were a number of contacts and assistance provided to local businesses during the quarter.  
  • Two new businesses are seeking assistance to relocate here.  
  • North Channel Brewing requested assistance on the traffic disruption and impact to business caused by the bridge work on Maple Street and future DTE Energy infrastructure work. 
  • A consultation with The Historic Vogue Theater on grants and financial assistance also occurred. The Vogue Theater’s next expansion project is a $1.4 million third screening room and elevator. This will help the non-profit with sustainability, and it will have an impact on visitation to downtown.

Match on Main Grant
  • A media release publicized the second round of Match on Main grants and requested that interested parties contact the Chamber.  
  • One business submitted an application for expansion work and it was submitted to MEDC in March.
Lead Business Retention, Attraction, and Growth
Talent and Workforce Development
Growing Entrepreneurs and Necessary Career Skills
Outdoor Recreation and Tourism
Placemaking and Housing Needs
Building a Collaborative Environment and Effective Communications
James Barker, Munson Healthcare Manistee
Stacie Bytwork, Manistee Area Chamber
Jeff Dontz, Manistee County
Dennis McCarthy, Blarney Castle Oil & Propane
Jim Reithel, Martin Marietta Magnesia Specialties
Tom St. Dennis, Little River Holdings, LLC
Bill Gambill, City of Manistee
Scott Ward, West Shore Community College
West Shore Community College
Manistee Industrial Development Corporation
Manistee County
City of Manistee
Manistee Downtown Development Authority
Blarney Castle Oil & Propane
Munson Healthcare Manistee Hospital
Little River Holdings, LLC
Manistee County Visitors Bureau
Filer Credit Union
Consumers Energy
Martin Marietta Magnesia Specialties
Packaging Corporation of America
Morton Salt
West Shore Bank
Iron Fish Distillery
LakeStar Farms