Greetings! We hope you enjoy our April 2018 Newsletter!
Annual Investors' Meeting Highlights
On March 28, approximately 40 of our investors and elected officials attended Monroe County BDC’s Annual Investors’ Meeting. Our meeting was held at Tenneco, who a couple years ago, celebrated their 100-year history that all began in a garage in Monroe, Michigan.

Tenneco Inc., a $9.3 billion global manufacturing company, is pioneering global ideas for cleaner air, and smoother, quieter and safer transportation. They are an industry leader in leading designers, manufacturers and distributors of Ride Performance and Clean Air products and technology solutions for diversified markets, including light vehicle, commercial truck, off-highway equipment and the aftermarket.

Tenneco serves customers from 92 manufacturing facilities and 15 engineering and technical centers around the world, delivering advanced technologies, quality products, powerful brands and outstanding engineering and manufacturing capabilities.

We had the pleasure of meeting and listening to Mark Christiaanse, Director of Engineering for North American Aftermarket Ride Performance. His presentation was followed by tours of Tenneco’s Monroe facility.

Prior to Tenneco taking the stage, we heard from Doug Chaffin, Monroe Bank & Trust President & CEO and BDC’s Board Chairman. He introduced BDC’s 17-member Board and talked about the healthy financial condition of the BDC – our annual operating budget has hovered around $250,000 over the past several years and is funded by local municipalities and corporate partnerships. Investment dollars fund staffing and general operational overhead, but also dollars are leveraged to take advantage of grants, programs, and other partnerships that support economic development in Monroe County. Doug stated, “Our local economy in Monroe remains very strong, evidenced by continued job growth, low unemployment, and demand for skilled labor and talent throughout the community.”

Next, Senator Dale Zorn took the podium and talked a few minutes about the great number of challenges going on in the State of Michigan. But with the increased tax liability, we are seeing new businesses in our area. Senator Zorn stated, “With the young talent in Michigan today, our best days are yet to come.”

Representative Joseph Bellino also spoke for a few minutes and remarked about Ford making a $700 million investment in our community just 3 days after he took office. Representative Bellino agreed with Senator Zorn’s comments and looks forward to being part of and seeing what is accomplished in 2018.

Tim Lake, Monroe County BDC’s President & CEO, gave details about working with regional partners for attraction of new businesses to our community. In 2017, the BDC had 3 successful attraction projects with capital investments projected at $9.9 million and job creation peaking at 334 persons.
Retention and growth of existing Monroe County businesses is vital to our community. The BDC called on 34 companies last year to assess their operations and offer assistance. Direct support services were provided to 16 companies. Total investment equaled $82.7 million with 469 new jobs and 230 jobs retained.

Tim then talked about how initiatives are vital to laying the groundwork for future development opportunities and explained the various partnerships that the BDC is involved in, one of them being the  Monroe County Link  Plan. This plan is a strategy to guide economic development along the I-75 corridor and identifies and promotes our geography, infrastructure, cost competitiveness and workforce as the backbone of our strengths. The plan is in its action stage and progress is already being made and seen.

In Tim’s final comment for the morning, he informed guests to, “stay tuned … 2018 is going to be a great year!”
The Monroe County BDC would like to thank all our investors, speakers and elected officials for joining us for this year’s meeting. Without the trust and commitment of these municipalities and businesses, our work would not be possible. And, special thanks to Tenneco for opening their doors to us and our guests!

View the slide deck from by clicking on the picture.
Welcome Echo Engineering
Echo Engineering, a full-service custom plastic components manufacturer, recently purchased two move-in ready facilities in Monroe County, one in the City of Monroe and the other in Frenchtown Township, in the acquisition of Ammex Plastics, a full-service plastics components manufacturer based in Monroe.

Echo plans to invest $2.4 million at these new facilities, resulting in a $210,000 Michigan Business Development Program performance-based grant.

In the recent press release, Michigan Representative Dale Zorn said, “This grant will support a $2.4 million expansion project that will create 60 jobs, provide new opportunities and continue to improve the local economy."

We welcome Echo Engineering to the Monroe County Business Community and wish them great success!

You may read the complete Press Release here.
Focused Action Teams Move Forward
On January 12, Monroe County Link moved from a comprehensive economic development strategy for our county to a room full of volunteers ready to move into action. All teams have been charged with reviewing the Action Steps from the Monroe County Link Plan and then working on completing one or two by the end of the year.
The six Pillar Teams are led by Team Captains who have shared updates on their progress thus far. Below is a short synopsis on each Plan Pillar:
Prepare for Investment - Barry Buschmann, The Mannik & Smith Group, Inc. - This Team is working on defining the infrastructure needs for each property and discussing other needs for future development. This Team was developed with members of an existing task force and feel confident about reaching their goals.
Grow Strategically & Logistics Gateway - Paul Pirrone, Bedford Township Supervisor - These two Pillar Teams are working together and have added 2 additional team members. They have done considerable work on the I-75 signage, and are communicating with brokers, property owners, and possible perspective businesses that may want to locate in one of the 8 primary development areas defined in the Plan.
Local Image & Brand – Michael Bosanac, County of Monroe - This Team has a good outline of the issues and are developing a cleanup plan for the I-75 and North Dixie Highway interchange. They have added two additional members to their team.
Quality of Life & Tourism - Doug Chaffin, Monroe Bank & Trust - This Team has adopted the action steps outlined in the plan and have added two additional priorities for consideration. They will be coordinating priorities with the Image and Branding Committee to avoid overlaps.
Talent Development - Dr. Stephen McNew, Monroe County ISD & Greg Pitoniak, SEMCA - This Team is working on developing a strategic plan that links industry and education to tackle the talent shortage. Their team is engaged and discussing issues and opportunities to lead them to where they want to be in the future.
To view the Team Captains' progress in more detail, please click here .

We also have a Monroe County Link Facebook page that you may follow to stay abreast of happenings on this exciting initiative.
And, there is more ...
> New Future Skills Task Force - SEMCOG, in partnership with the Metropolitan Affairs Coalition (MAC), is convening a new Future Skills Task Force. The objective is for business, employers, education, labor, workforce development, and government organizations to identify in-demand skills in an economy that is being transformed by technology, and develop recommendations to ensure our education and training systems can address changing workforce needs. This is critical to continuing economic prosperity in the region and ensuring that our residents can upgrade their skills to remain employable throughout their careers as the economy evolves.

Help identify these needs by sharing your thoughts with SEMCOG/MAC. Responses to this brief survey will help the Future Skills Task Force and guide planning efforts.
Contact:  Amy Malmer , SEMCOG Membership, for future information.
>> Work is underway preparing the US Port of Entry site for construction of the Gordie Howe International Bridge project later this year. Look at some of the progress being made here.  
  Please feel free to contact us anytime!
Tim Lake  x101 |  LuAnn Hogberg x102