Economic Development can be defined as a program, group of policies, or set of activities that seek to improve the economic well-being and quality of life for a community by creating and/or retaining jobs that facilitate growth and provide a stable tax base.  

Starting up a program and performing economic development in a less populated, rural county can quickly hit the constraining factors of capacity (people), resources (funding), and tools (incentives/programs). With your support, the Manistee Area Chamber of Commerce has been able to deliver the capacity to do the economic development work, connect on resources, and begin to use the tools available to local governments and developers.  

We have played a crucial role in moving forward with a 288-unit, market-rate housing project, that will hopefully soon receive needed decisions and start construction this fall. Connecting on County Land Bank funds eased the developer in moving forward with the project and demonstrates the value of the Economic Development program. Here is the upshot for resources and use of available tools: The County invested $40,000 in the Chamber’s Economic Development Program, and one of our outcomes is a potential $1,080,000 in grant funds for improving our County and creating conditions for housing and a pipeline for more development.  

We also had an opening of one of our priority projects on July 18th - the Hampton Inn and Suites Manistee Lakeshore. From start to finish, this project has taken three years, and the Chamber was there from the beginning to welcome developers, facilitate discussions and assist with local and state processes and approvals. The catalyst development has increased interest in Manistee area investment, and we are seeing a number of new businesses opening and jobs created in anticipation of the increased visitation to the area.  

Our progress and opening projects large and small has sent out a message that our area has value, that there are opportunities for growth, and that the business community and local officials are willing to work with investors and developers to partner on projects. 

We look forward to your continued support and are excited to see what new developments might soon be coming with this focus on economic development.


Riley Apartments (Manistee Township) - 288-unit, market-rate apartment development

  • The developer submitted an application for a property tax abatement.  
  • Chamber facilitated conversations between developers and the County Land Bank on incentives and grant funds.  
  • Worked with the County on an application and supporting materials.
  • The developer closed on the property in May.
  • The County Land Bank received grant funds of over $500,000 for demolition and environmental work. 


 Hampton Inn and Suites Manistee Lakeshore

  • The Chamber worked on advocacy and support for loan approvals with the Michigan Strategic Fund (MEDC). This was approved in early May.  
  • The Chamber hosted regional economic development and MEDC officials, as well as legislators in two separate tours in May.  
  • This priority project had its grand opening on July 18th. 

Gateway Project

  • Explored and discussed potential partnership on the project with the Downtown Development Authority.
  • EGLE restarted brownfield coordination meetings, and conversation and progress were made on the complicated steps moving forward with all the community and state agency partners.  
  • Little River Holdings is moving forward with a site plan and a Planned Unit Development application to the City of Manistee.  
  • Discussions were held with DDA on partnership on a parking deck, but LRH will move forward without this element.  

Emerald Cove Hotel and The Mill Restaurant 

  • This project is seeking additional assistance from MEDC, as well as historic preservation credits. The recent renewal of this property as a Redevelopment Ready Communities (RRC) priority site will assist the project. A construction start in the Fall is likely. 

Northern Hotel Housing/Commercial Project

  • The Chamber facilitated a meeting with the developer and a construction/design company to discuss financing and grant assistance opportunities.  
  • The construction costs remain above budget
  • The developer is planning on moving forward with an OPRA application and likely construction at the end of the calendar year.  
  • MEDC assistance to offset the gap between anticipated revenues and construction continues to be part of the capital plan.  
  • The developer sought and received an extension from the Planning Commission at their July meeting, and the new expiration date for the site plan is 2026.  

Additional Housing Developers 

  • The Chamber has been working with ten additional developers on projects including 300 Care Drive, Northern Hotel, KND School District, and the Bluffs on Manistee Lake.  


Business Retention, Expansion, and Consultation

Co-working and Office Spaces 

  • The Chamber is working on building out spaces for offices in certain locations. We have two prospective businesses and we are looking for grants and assistance to assist a building owner.  

Business Retention Work 

  • Discussions on retention, new businesses and expansion were provided to Little River Casino and Resort, Munson Healthcare Manistee Hospital, Meijer, North Channel Brewing, Northern Spice Company, UP North Collectors, Ramsdell Inn, Well Nested, Spicer Group, Snyder’s, Monarch Management, Myotek, Fricano’s, Oleson’s Trust, Alex Doucett’s, Princess of Manistee, Blue Fish Kitchen, Third Coast Boutique, Spicer Group, and a few others. 


  • A preliminary discussion and referrals were made for a trucking company on a relocation to Manistee County, and a new company began discussions on developing a downtown space for a relocation. Anticipated four new jobs with the relocation of the latter.  

  • The Chamber worked with Networks Northwest to tour local businesses a state legislator and discuss workforce development and housing needs. The May 5 tour included Martin Marietta, Myotek, Munson Manistee Hospital, and Packaging Corporation of America.


Arcadia Project 

  • Chamber is partnering with Housing North and continuing to provide assistance to a developer/entrepreneur on a mixed use project.  
  • Grant funds will be necessary to assist with water infrastructure and construction.   

Lakeside Social Restaurant Project 

  • Due to unforeseen regulatory issues with the Manistee Lake parcel, the developers of the Lakeside Social Restaurant are assessing their options for moving forward.  
  • Plans to redevelop the property for a hospitality-related will resume when wetlands mitigation issues and related project costs are resolved.  
  • Chamber continues to work with the developer on moving forward.

The Outsider Project 

  • The Chamber provided assistance with start-up and construction tasks for a quick renovation and open of a new restaurant.  
  • Working on support for a redevelopment liquor license for the business, which may not be available until the Fall/Winter months.
  • Opened on July 24, 2023.

The Golden Stag 

  • The Chamber provided assistance with the July opening of this new restaurant.
  • Continue to work with the owner on a grant to expand outdoor seating with a deck on the river side of the building.  

Bluefish Kitchen + Bar

  • Providing assistance to the owner on building improvements.  Also working on a grant for expansion of the deck and outdoor seating.  

Alpine Chocolat Haus 

  • The Chamber worked with both the franchisee and the owner to expand their business and find a location here in Manistee.
  • Chamber assisted with navigating through building inspection issues.
  • Grand Opening & Ribbon Cutting was in June.  

Food Trucks 

  • Worked with two food truck operators to provide assistance, and independently with a proposed location to solicit vendors.


Each year, the City of Manistee is required to hold a joint meeting and review the Redevelopment Ready Community (RRC) priority redevelopment sites.  Continued participation in the program allows the City to be eligible for needed grant funding and programming associated with the RRC, like the Match on Main grant program, and signals to the Michigan Economic Development Corporation that the community would like to seek assistance for the redevelopment of chosen priority sites.  

  • The Chamber assisted by developing a survey of priorities for boards and commissions, and presented the results of this information at a City Council meeting on May 16th.  

  • The following sites were selected for the program:  Gateway Project; Northern Hotel; Emerald Cove; Jones Dairy; Amor Sign-Livery; and, the Waterworks Building (outside of the Manistee Downtown Development Authority).


The Chamber changed the Manistee Forward group to include a broader group of all elected public officials in the county - including villages and townships - and will move the location around the county to make it easier for officials and stakeholders to participate.  

  • A meeting was held at Arcadia Township Hall on May 24.  
  • The Chamber will use these meetings to discuss economic development, answer questions, and discuss possible tools for development.  
  • We will also disseminate the monthly report for officials to the broader group.
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

Stacie Bytwork, Manistee Area Chamber of Commerce

Jeff Dontz, Manistee County

Bill Gambill, City of Manistee

Eugene Magnuson, Little River Holdings, LLC

Sammie Lukaskiewicz, Manistee County Tourism Authority

Dennis McCarthy, Blarney Castle Oil & Propane

Jim Reithel, Martin Marietta Magnesia Specialties

Kelly Tomaszewski, Munson Healthcare Manistee Hospital

Scott Ward, West Shore Community College/IDC


West Shore Community College

Manistee County

Manistee Industrial Development Corporation

City of Manistee

Manistee Downtown Development Authority

Blarney Castle Oil & Propane

Munson Healthcare Manistee Hospital

Little River Holdings, LLC

Pioneer Construction

Manistee County Tourism Authority

Filer Credit Union

Martin Marietta Magnesia Specialties

West Shore Bank

Morton Salt

Iron Fish Distillery