Over the past three months, the Chamber’s pace of work increased on one of our top priorities. The Chamber has been working with Little River Holdings, LLC (LRH) and a developer to put together a new team.  The Gateway Project with LRH is advancing demolition, remediation, and site preparation for construction.

The positive news about our area's development projects continues to attract additional potential investment, and the Chamber has been working with new developers in the past quarter. In fact, a developer recently closed on the former Northern Hotel located 141-149 Washington Street, and we provided assistance for their due diligence phase.  

Business Retention and Expansion (BRE) meetings continue to uncover needs and business plans where the Chamber and its partners can provide real assistance. We meet the business owner or leader where they are, regardless of their size, experience level, or length of time in business. One business retention visit in August dealt with a recurring theme. How to transition into retirement in the coming years. More research will be needed in order to provide assistance to business owners.

The Chamber team dedicated some time in the quarter to create presentation materials that will help communicate elements of the economic development program to decision-makers and developers. This work prepares us for further investment outreach with site details and to lay the groundwork for a successful Developer Day in 2022.  
Lakeshore Hotel Project 
  • Suburban Inns closed on the property in July. 
  • Work is expected to commence on demolition in the first quarter of 2022.
  • Project will approximately be a $25 million investment for our community and have over 35 full-time employees.

Downtown Gateway Project 
  • Chamber is facilitating coordination calls twice a month and has provided communication assistance to advance project goals.
  • Agreement for brownfield grants and loans announced.  
  • Chamber set up meetings with MDOT on design elements.    
  • Discussions and meetings were held with a representative of a major hotel chain.  

Fricano’s Manistee River Restaurant 
  • Work advanced on the land sale for the deck, including review by MDNR and necessary conditions.  
  • Facade demolition occurred, and the next step will be Historic District Commission review and approval.  
  • Assistance will continue on this project.  

Thoroughbred Boat Company 
  • First vessel was completed and prepared for certification.
  • Progress continues on the initial stages of manufacturing start-up.   
  • Business retention meeting in September provided opportunities for assistance with Michigan Works!, MEDC, and apprenticeship programs. 
  • First vessel premiered at the Hops and Props event in Downtown Manistee. 
Restaurants and Food Truck Development
  • Outreach and recruitment efforts continue to attract established food businesses to the area. 
  • Discussions were held with investors on potential locations and joint ventures.
  • Work continued on a potential food truck “park” and a destination entertainment venue by working with property owners on a potential site.  

New Developer/Investor Recruitment 
  • Established new contacts and relationships.
  • Contacts and meetings on sites for housing, mixed-use, and priority sites under the Redevelopment Ready Communities program.
  • Meetings and discussions with the Council on Aging regarding senior housing at the Wagoner Center site.    
Business Retention and Expansion Visits
  • Assistance provided with a major employer to advance construction permits and expansion. 
  • A second major employer continues to expand and plan for future job and revenue growth.  
  • One established local business needed assistance with expansion to a downtown Manistee storefront and business plans to support the next phase.  
  • Established business discussed possible expansion into a new revenue stream and zoning assistance.
  • The Chamber consulted recently with two established businesses on their startup/relocation.  
  • Start-up assistance provided to a new tourism-based business. Included help with a downtown Manistee lease.  

Maxwelltown/Peninsula Projects
  • Guidance and consultation took place on several projects in different stages of development. The needs include having a vision for the project and working through issues with:
  • Zoning and planning requirements
  • Grants and abatement expectations 
  • Good financials and pro forma documents 
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
Manistee Industrial Development Corporation
West Shore Community College
Manistee County
City of Manistee
Manistee Downtown Development Authority
Blarney Castle Oil & Propane
Munson Healthcare Manistee Hospital
Little River Holdings, LLC
Manistee Convention and Visitors Bureau
Filer Credit Union
Consumers Energy
Martin Marietta Magnesia Specialties
Packaging Corporation of America
Morton Salt
Iron Fish Distillery
LakeStar Farms