NLEA Establishes New Revolving

Loan Fund with EDA Support

The U.S. Department of Commerce, Economic Development Administration has announced that it has awarded the Northern Lakes Economic Alliance a $400,000 investment to establish a revolving loan fund. The fund will serve as a financing tool for Northern Michigan businesses to support jobs and investment in the NLEA service area of Antrim, Charlevoix, Cheboygan, and Emmet Counties.

The loan fund is a gap financing tool for small businesses and will work in partnership with the borrower’s primary lender. The goal of the fund is to be a component of a business’s capital mix to bring growth and jobs to the region. Click below to hear from economic development professionals and elected officials about the importance of this $500,000 loan fund.

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Buck Love Retires From the NLEA

Written by: Sam Bailey, Strategic Initiatives Manager

In November, Harold “Buck” Love, Business Retention and Growth Specialist, retired from the NLEA after more than six years with the organization. Buck joined the NLEA in 2017 bringing a breadth of experience from operating a small business for several years before working as a Businesses Support Specialist with Networks Northwest. Leveraging this background and NLEA

resources, Buck helped businesses access the financial and technical support needed to thrive in Northern Lower Michigan. Jessica Lovay, NLEA’s Community Development and Grants Specialist, remembers working with Buck fondly; “Buck brought a special energy to the NLEA, he will be greatly missed.”

One of Buck’s strengths in his role was the supporting business expansions through tax abatements. Over the years, Buck supported the 2018 Van Dam Custom Boats expansions, the 2019 Manthei Wood Products rebuild following a facility fire, the 2020 Industrial Magnetics Expansion and more. These projects and others brought roughly 16.1 million dollars of investment and 115 new jobs to the region.

In addition to working directly with businesses, Buck supported regional initiatives that pulled in many stakeholders, from Manufacturing Days that exposed hundreds of students to opportunities in the industry to Regional Hiring events that connected hundreds of job seekers with hundreds of open positions.

Not only did Buck leverage existing resources for the region, but he also helped introduce new ones. Buck coordinated the adoption of the Property Assessed Clean Energy Program in Emmet (2018), Cheboygan (2022), and Charlevoix (2023) Counties. The program is a mechanism for financing energy efficiency and renewable energy improvements on commercial properties.

NLEA Interim President David Emmel described Buck as critical to developing the NLEA’s business connections in the region. Emmel stated, “Buck has an ability to quickly develop deep and trusting relationships with people. This ability was key to his success at the NLEA and the relationships he fostered and sustained in the business community during his tenure. His integrity

and warmth will be greatly missed. Personally, I'm very much looking forward to seeing what the next venture will be on his beloved farm in northern Emmet County.”

From everyone at the NLEA, thank you Buck.

Buck Retires, But Services Continue...

Following Buck Love’s retirement, those looking for business assistance will still have access to NLEA resources. Businesses in Emmet and Cheboygan Counties can contact Chris Bauer ( Community and Economic Development Manager and businesses in Antrim and Charlevoix Counties can contact Jessica Lovay ( Community Development & Grants Specialist.

These NLEA staff members will be able to connect you to financial and technical support, peer organizations and support networks, and local leaders to help strengthen your business.

Survey Underway to Help Support the

Outdoor Rec Industry

Your Opinion is Needed

Networks Northwest is conducting a survey to better understand the nature and location of outdoor recreation businesses within its 10-county region. In addition to the traditional outdoor recreation businesses, we also hope to hear from service businesses, hotels, eateries, the craft beverage industry, manufacturers in outdoor recreation, etc.  

Our goal is to better serve businesses and deploy resources to support this important economic sector.

We kindly ask that you complete this survey which should take approximately 3-7 minutes. The survey will be open until November 30, 2023.  Individual business information will not be shared without permission.


Voices of the North

Recently, NLEA Strategic Initiatives Manager Sam Bailey was featured in the Northern Express’s 50 Voices of the North. The article includes a diverse group of individuals from across Northern Michigan who were asked what makes the regions special, what draws people here, and what the future holds for our area.

Sam spoke of causes for optimism and concern about Northern Michigan’s future.


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From delicious chocolate to automotive testing equipment, visit our YouTube page to learn more about local professionals making unique products in Northern Lower Michigan.

Follow us on TikTok or watch the latest interviews below.


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