These next 2 1/2 weeks could be some of the longest and most intense in Northeast Michigan's history.
Nineteen days. Six designations. One chance to turn hope into reality and by that, reverse the fortunes of a community and a region.
Alpena and Northeast Michigan anxiously await an announcement by the Federal Aviation Administration before year's end of where six UAS Center of Excellences will be placed. Alpena made the initial cut of sites months ago, and everyone locally is waiting "on pins and needles" for the decision.
At stake are numerous good-paying jobs from direct and indirect related businesses that would come with such a designation.
Alpena has a lot to offer such as the largest area of unrestricted air space east of the Mississippi River, large bodies of water for maritime tests and maneuvers, one of the most sophisticated radar systems in operation today and a military presence that could enhance training opportunities and partnerships.
In a news story this week Alpena County Commissioner Cam Habermehl said "I'm confident we have as good as chance as anyone else." While anxious, local officials are upbeat and positive.
Then again, so are others. In a check of news stories on the subject from around the Internet, other site locations appear cautiously optimistic as well.
However, in a Google search Thursday morning on the subject, The Alpena News' article a week ago was the first news story offering related to the subject.
Alpena officials are hoping that's a good sign, and portends good news in the days ahead for our region.