Downtown Gateway Project - The Chamber facilitated discussions regarding project planning and government assistance. The economic development team met with MEDC personnel to request their assistance and engagement in the project. We planned a March meeting with MEDC and stakeholders to discuss creative financing and state assistance. The City and LIttle River Holdings are pursuing a state Brownfield Grant and Loan.  

Lakeshore Hotel Project - The Chamber facilitated six project coordination calls between the developers and city personnel to advance a planned unit development application before the Planning Commission. The Chamber prepared a presentation before an April 1st meeting, and organized support for the project. This included a business sign-on letter supporting the project with 21 businesses, representing 800 local employees. Contacts to the Planning Commission members, business community and developers increased during this period. 

Thoroughbred Boat Company - The company continues to make great progress on their first vessel, and the Chamber has been in contact for assistance and progress.

Fricano’s Manistee River Restaurant - Ted Fricano closed on the property in this quarter, and the Chamber is providing assistance and support for the project, including city negotiations on additional land acquisition and a DDA facade grant. Demolition is underway.

River Water Housing Development - A 40-plus unit development for senior and workforce housing for downtown redevelopment sites has been put forward by developers. The Chamber worked with developers on details on their state housing application for funding. Decisions are expected in the second quarter.

Redevelopment Ready Recertification (RRC) - The Chamber took a lead role to re-certify for the City, prioritizing redevelopment sites for additional marketing and other products. Chamber developed a presentation for a joint meeting of boards and commissions and developed a web-based poll to assist in site development prioritization. MEDC is sharing the Manistee online survey tool as a best practice to other RRC communities. 

Entrepreneurial Day - The Chamber developed a virtual seminar series that included expert speakers with material for both new and existing businesses. 4Front Credit Union was the presenting sponsor, and the DDA Business Development Committee assisted.
Ludington Tour Boat Company - After a news article was forwarded by a Manistee DDA board member indicating an opportunity, the Chamber contacted city officials and the company owner to investigate possible relocation on the Manistee Riverfront. The Chamber successfully recruited this business from Ludington, after negotiations and a tour of marina facilities. More information can be found on

Ironworks Development - Met and engaged with the owner on plans and possible financial assistance. 
314 Sibben \ Mixed-Use - Met with the new owner and SBDC to counsel on business planning for business success.
Small Business Survival Grant Initiative - Networks Northwest and the Chamber partnered again with MEDC to score and deliver a round of COVID-oriented grants. $139K was allocated to the county. The Chamber promoted the opportunity, fielded calls and emails from interested businesses. 46 applications were scored and 13 awards were recommended. Successful applicants were notified by Networks Northwest.  

Networks Northwest Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy - Chamber responded to a request for proposals for inclusion in a regional strategy, and a contract has been secured. Work is underway to update this strategy. Duration for work should be six to eight months.  

Leasing Downtown Storefronts - Several entrepreneurs are searching for downtown storefronts to start a new business. It is being reported back to the Chamber that the entrepreneurs cannot find spaces and they are being turned down by building owners. The Chamber has developed an approach to engage building owners, inventory assets, and identify possible opportunities and solutions.  

On-Boarding Survey Tool - To assist new businesses, developers, and other contacts and to track progress, the Chamber developed a tool to email new business contacts. We have begun to implement this approach with entrepreneurs. 
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
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