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More than a season of change...
By David Emmel, NLEA President
2021 auto-start
The end of the calendar year often signals the opportunity to contemplate change. At the NLEA change is happening all around us. December marks the end of an era for our organization's long-time president Andy Hayes. Andy has been part of the NLEA for 16 years and has led the organization through many changes. Through it all Andy has been a steward of our organization leaving it on solid financial footing for the future. While he prepares for his retirement, please take the opportunity to reach out to him to wish him well in his next phase of life. When you see Andy out and about in our region (likely with his trusty companion Ranger) be sure thank him for his longstanding dedication to the economic prosperity of our region.

As we put 2020 behind us with the sobering clarity that we have witnessed changes most of us would have never anticipated, be reminded that historically, disruption yields new opportunity. If ever there was a time for optimism, this is it. 2021 will be a challenge as we navigate the beginning of the long-term disruption to our beloved communities across northern Michigan. Much has changed, and much will continue to change. One thing which will not change however, is our collective culture. Our collective culture will be what compels us to adapt, binds us together, gives us strength, and propels us forward. We know how to collaborate; we know how to partner and we know how to solve problems because we know where we’ve been and we know where we are going.
This is more that a season of change, this is the season of our collective future and it is up to all of us to create that future.

Happy Holidays to you all and best wishes for a prosperous New Year!
When we work together, we win together
Andy Hayes first week at NLEA 2005
I came to the NLEA almost 16 years ago and wow! has it been an exciting ride. Over the years we’ve been involved in many exciting projects, and developed many great relationships. It was a big job and quite frankly a bit scary at first as our state and region had our share of challenges to address. I remember getting some great advice from our NLEA Executive Committee. They stressed that the “secret sauce” of the NLEA was cooperation and collaboration. No one entity could (or should) try to go it alone. When we work together, we win together!

We took that advice to heart and over the years developed many partners both formally and informally. This collective impact model works and sure makes the process a lot more fun. Of course, sometimes this is like “herding cats”, but in the end we’re all trying to accomplish the same thing and the results are pretty impressive.

Having this many people from so many different organizations working together, collaborating and looking out for each other is a rare thing to find, and for that reason I am particularly grateful. Read more...
Cheboygan EDC needs input to further map Broadband
Cheboygan County EDC has launched their Broadband Initiative. We urge all -whether you have good internet access or not- to respond to the survey.

Cheboygan County, EDC, Townships, NLEA, the City, Schools and Businesses understand the need of reliable internet service in our communities. We look forward to your input in this short survey. Look for more information in the new year!
Keeping Community Spirits High
Downtown Charlevoix aerial view
Local businesses need our help now more than ever. These are the friendly faces and familiar places that we enjoy seeing and patronizing. They are the same places that time and time again get asked for donations, sponsorships and community participation and it is time we repay the favor.

There are multiple ways you can show your support from buying gift cards, ordering take out from area restaurants, safely shopping at local farmers markets, and many more. We have seen communities participate in “cash mobs”, pick a local store or restaurant on a specific day and “mob” them with purchases.

The pandemic has affected all of us in more ways than could have been imagined and we will continue to see the ripple effect for some time, so let us all please be a little kinder, a littler more patient and keep our community spirits high.
Assistance for procurement opportunities
The Pure Michigan Business Connect (PMBC) Access and Certification Grant is designed to break down barriers preventing Michigan businesses from winning purchase orders. The program has three objectives:

• Increase supplier access to local and global procurement opportunities
• Improve competitiveness in advanced manufacturing for Michigan small businesses
• Enhance supplier capabilities and open doors to new industry verticals

Up to $15,000 in assistance is available to offset 50 percent of pre-approved expenses per fiscal year. The company will pay for the certification or software and MEDC will reimburse, after receiving valid proof of payment. There are eligibility requirements and allowable expenses. Learn more at Pure Michigan Business Connect
Area's largest hiring event for 2021 canceled
2021 Largest hiring event cancelled
Northern Michigan’s LARGEST HIRING EVENT Scheduled for March 13, 2021 at the Ellison Place in Gaylord has been canceled in an abundance of caution resulting from the health and economic concerns due to COVID-19 19. Following several planning committee meetings to discuss the logistics of a possible in-person vs virtual event with associated costs and uncertainties, Christy Lyon, CCE Director for NCMC said, "The decision by North Central Michigan College left open the possibility the event could be reevaluated for a later date in 2021 or for Spring 2022."

This event is a collaborative effort with the following organizations:
Grow Michigan offers $100 Million to support minority businesses statewide
Grow Michigan Fund II is joining First Independence Bank and other financial institutions to bridge the economic gap for all with capital and advice for companies in Michigan.

The fund will actively identify opportunities to provide access to capital to qualified businesses, including minority-owned businesses, and assist lenders on how best to deploy the funds aimed at business growth and long-term sustainability. 

To date, through Fund I, Grow Michigan has invested $61.7 million in transactions involving a total leveraged capital investment of $320.1 million, while facilitating nearly 3,200 jobs.

“The need is there and the Grow Michigan formula – almost unlike anything else in the country – has proved itself,” said Kenneth Kelly, Chairman and CEO, First Independence Bank and Chairman of Grow Michigan Fund II. “We want to lead the charge in assisting business growth and minority-owned companies formation through mergers and acquisitions in the middle market; providing the knowledge, relationships, and financial boost needed for success.”
Housing: Missing in the Middle
By Steve Schnell, Charlevoix County Housing Ready Program Director, Housing North
Housing supply on the market is at an historic low. In the 40 years that data has been collected, there have never been fewer homes for sale.

A return to our history is one solution that is gaining traction. In the 1920s and 1930s our housing supply had a higher proportion of housing types that were multi-family. The housing type that we are missing today that worked so well a century ago to meet housing needs are in demand again.

"Missing Middle Housing" is a term coined by Dan Parolek. The term describes a range of house-scale buildings with multiple units—compatible in scale and form with detached single-family homes—located in a walkable neighborhood.
Duplex Home- how to solve missing middle housing
Duplex designed in a style compatible with single family neighborhoods. Photo credit: Dan Parolek, author of Missing Middle Housing;
Communities can do a lot to help meet the demand for housing by creating more missing middle housing types. Zoning ordinances are often the most identifiable challenge to Missing Middle housing. Communities in Northern Michigan, such as Boyne City, East Jordan, and Charlevoix are taking steps necessary to create more housing opportunities.

Read more about what you can do to create more housing opportunities at
Join us to celebrate Andy's retirement
It is the year of virtual gatherings and Andy's retirement party will be no exception! Join us this Thursday, December 17 from 3:30-5:00 PM on Remo by registering with the link below. Networking begins at 3:30 PM and a program at 4:00. We hope you will come thank Andy for his 16 years of service to NLEA and wish him well as he moves into retirement.

Haven't used Remo before? Details about the platform are included further below. Register to be ready to celebrate!
Details on Remo:
See how the Remo platform looks and works here.
Test your computer prior to Thursday to verify there aren’t any technical issues on your end. 
This platform does not work well on cell phones, computers are the best way to participate for the most enjoyable experience.
You will need to register in advance by creating a sign in account, you do not need to download any software. Additionally the system will send you a reminder email with the link to access the event 15 minutes before it begins.
Videos you will want to share
We like to motivate and educate with these videos, so good you'll pass them on! If you have one or see something inspirational, send it our way. We love sharing!
Who took the cookies from the jar?
Discover pure opportunity.
COVID-19 Helpful Resources
Click here [UPDATED] for a short list of resources and information for businesses and communities during the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic. NLEA will continue to update this information as more resources become available. Things are still evolving quickly and often, if you have questions please call our office at 231-582-6482 or email us at and we will direct you promptly. 

We encourage you to contact and visit the websites of your local Chambers of Commerce, Downtown Development Authorities (DDAs), and Main Street organizations for the most updated information pertaining to your community. 
Core Partner Corner
Find out what our Core Partners are up to!