Thursday, April 11, 2024

Good Afternoon Economic Development Investors,

We are pleased to announce the addition of Andrew Stafford to our team at the Manistee Area Chamber of Commerce to lead our economic development efforts for Manistee County. We do not doubt that Andrew's talents will greatly contribute to the growth and progress of our community and are extremely excited to get him connected with our community.

Andrew is a Michigan native who was born and raised on the east side of the state. He holds

a bachelor’s degree from Michigan State University and is currently pursuing a master’s degree

in international planning studies also from Michigan State University. Andrew's background

includes grant writing and a CEDAM Community Development Fellowship in the City of White

Cloud, where he fueled his passion for fostering growth in Michigan communities.

Andrew officially begins work on June 3rd, 2024. He will be at Chamber UnTapped on May 16th, 2024 at Portage Point Resort. You are invited to attend this event for the opportunity to meet Andrew before he begins in June.

Thank you,

Stacie Bytwork

As we entered the first quarter of the year, we experienced several changes and transitions while also exploring new opportunities for the community. We would like to express our gratitude towards Marc Miller, who served as our first economic development director for over 4 years. We appreciate his dedication to the position, the organization, and the community. Additionally, we were fortunate to have an intern, Nicole Kaminski, on our team this quarter. Nicole specifically assisted us in business retention and expansion (BRE), especially in the downtown district, and assisted wherever she was needed.

There have been many meetings with various partners and developers regarding housing projects. As we are all aware, these projects can take time, especially to ensure that they are suitable for the community and financially viable for the developers.

Stacie Bytwork

County Land Bank

  • Demolitions took place as a result of earlier grant awards. Included one EZ Mart property, clearing the way for potential investment. Grant applications for several housing projects will be announced around mid-February. 
  • The County Land Bank announced the latest recipients of its grant funding (see last quarter's priority projects), with two projects in the Manistee Area receiving a share of the $1.9 million divided between them for blight elimination. The old Ringel Oil building at 518 First Street was granted approximately $300,000 for demolition, while the Northern Hotel project at 414 Washington Street received approximately $1.6 million in funding for demolitions and stabilizations. Unfortunately, the Waterworks Museum did not secure funding in this round.

Riley Apartments (Old Kennedy School-Manistee Township)

288-unit market rate apartment project.

  • Discussions and plans are moving forward on this project.

518 First Street Housing Project (Ringel Oil)

Demolition and redevelopment of up to 13 family-oriented housing units.

  • The Ringel Oil building at 518 First Street was granted approximately $300,000 for demolition from the County Land Bank.

Northern Hotel

A historic mixed-use development of at least 13 long-term apartments and first floor commercial space.

  • The Northern Hotel project at 414 Washington Street received approximately $1.6 million in funding for demolitions and stabilizations from the County Land Bank.

Housing-Related Contacts

  • Throughout the quarter, the Chamber engaged with Housing North, the City of Manistee, and Manistee Township in a collaborative housing stock working group and community impact investment fund. Meetings were conducted with various potential housing projects.
  • A new developer met twice with the Chamber and Housing North to explore possible incentives during the due diligence phase of a housing development.

Housing Grants

  • The Federal Home Loan Bank of Indianapolis offers an Affordable Housing Program grant, and the Chamber is actively promoting this opportunity to housing developers as an additional incentive. The grant priorities include enhancing underserved communities and populations, fostering economic opportunity, and promoting community stability, among other priorities outlined in the 2024 implementation plan. The initial deadline for this program, the notice of intent to apply, is June 6, 2024.

Maintaining contact with various developers to stay updated on the status of their projects. This involves regular communication to track progress, address challenges, and discuss project timelines. Prioritizing staying in touch with developers and stakeholders to ensure transparency, manage expectations, and align goals effectively. This ongoing dialogue enables proactive decision-making and fosters collaborative efforts to deliver successful projects that contribute positively to our community. 

Outsider Cafe Project

Downtown business opened in summer 2023.

  • The Outsider's downtown redevelopment liquor license application application was accepted by the MLCC. A ribbon cutting was held on Friday, March 15 to commemorate their accomplishment.

300 Care Drive

  • The Chamber discussed the old hospital site and the status of the parcel. The receiver is working with interested developers to purchase and develop the building.  
  • The location became available again and was promoted to potential developers. Subsequently, the Chamber received a call from an interested developer and arranged a meeting with the City Manager, Community Development Director, and Housing North. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss incentives, pro forma, and zoning considerations for the parcels.

Lakeside Social Restaurant Project

Restaurant and hospitality location on Arthur Street with Manistee lakefront access.

  • Chamber remains in contact with a developer and the project is still moving forward.

401 River Street

  • The Chamber held several meetings with the owner to discuss the project's opportunity for first-floor commercial and upstairs housing. Subsequently, the Chamber assisted the owner in identifying potential commercial tenants and facilitated an introduction to Tracy Davis, Housing North's Housing Coordinator.

Downtown Start-Up

  • Work was performed by recruiting a new start-up business to the downtown area. 

Throughout the quarter, our team engaged with local enterprises to know their needs, to provide viable resources, and consult in future economic endeavors.

Discussions on business retention, expansion, and consultation were provided to: Fab-Lite, Pomeroy Floral Designs, Northern Spirits Gift Shop, Surroundings, Port City Emporium, The Purple Paintbrush, Ohana Shaved Ice, BeeSmooth Cafe, and Bellsprouts.

Chamber staff participated in several forums in the quarter that engaged different constituencies.

  • President and CEO Stacie Bytwork, as a partner, attended the Northern Michigan Policy Conference
  • Stacie Bytwork was accepted into the 9th Cohort of the U.S. Chamber Foundation Business Leads Fellowship Program and was invited to Washington D.C. to kickoff to cohort with a focus on K-12 education and workforce development.
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

Paul Cova, Packaging Corporation of America

Jeff Dontz, Manistee County

Bill Gambill, City of Manistee

Sammie Lukaskiewicz, Manistee County Tourism Authority

Eugene Magnuson, Little River Holdings, LLC

Dennis McCarthy, Blarney Castle Oil & Propane

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

Morton Salt

Iron Fish Distillery