Collaboration is not foreign to the Economic Development Organizations in Region 5, and neither is business attraction, but in response to the COVID pandemic, these economic
development organizations have thought it necessary to partner together to develop and employ a plan to attract new businesses to Region 5 in Michigan which includes the eight counties of Arenac, Bay, Clare, Gladwin, Gratiot, Isabella, Midland and Saginaw.
The initiative, launched by seven regional economic development organizations who represent more than a half million people in the middle eastern portion of Michigan, bordering Lake Huron, has branded the geographic area as Great Lakes Bay. Michigan. Centered. The objectives of the plan are to secure investment in targeted industries by promoting regional assets to decision makers of companies through a process called site selection as well as engage key stakeholders within the community to accentuate the benefits of doing business here.
The committee collaborated to develop and produce a variety of materials to market this area of the state of Michigan. Along with branding the geographic area as Great Lakes Bay. Michigan. Centered., a description of the area was developed to tell the story of what it’s like in the region which were included in advertorials that have been published in national periodicals such as Business Facilities and Site Selection Magazine. Streamlined property templates were developed to better market the most shovel ready and developable land
parcels and buildings available in each county which have been utilized in site selection tours and at national shows. The region includes these sites in their property database http://www.greatlakesbaysites.com/ which is a comprehensive site detailing information about available properties in partnership with regional realtors.
That collaboration allowed for the regional economic development organizations to solidify their processes of business attraction and marketing in a cohesive effort. Another aspect of that includes identifying targeted industries to attract to the communities. Targeted industries are businesses that could be best supported in terms of natural resources, geographic location, workforce, and available infrastructure. Those identified throughout the region included advanced manufacturing, agribusiness, and healthcare. The Great Lakes Bay Regional
Alliance is also collaborating with Region 5 by continuing to support site consultant outreach and event sponsorship. The Alliance will also promote the overall region at state and national events.
The initiative to market and brand the eight counties as a region, Great Lakes Bay. Michigan. Centered. has led to additional momentum and outside attention, including a $105,000 grant from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation to fund the efforts at a larger scale throughout 2022. The funds make it possible for the committee to expand their efforts in highlighting premier sites for businesses and marketing and promotion.
Each of the eight counties have experienced unique successes over the past year, and each county has its own unique attributes in terms of population, talent, and industry legacy. While the counties in the region all have similar resources in common, they also all have the same goals, to continue to grow the local economy by creating jobs and supporting capital investment.
This week marks Economic Development Week, which was created by the International Economic Development Council to increase awareness of local programs that create jobs, advance career development opportunities and improve communities’ quality of life everywhere.