ALPENA - It is the goal of Target Alpena to not only to promote and stimulate economical development in Alpena, but the entire region. Officials believe by sending a unified message to businesses, the cities and counties in Northeast Michigan may be able to attract more attention.
Jim Klarich, economic development director for the Alpena Area Chamber of Commerce, said he has completed his annual report for 2013. He said even though there was a decline in some areas of operations, they are signs the businesses opening are stronger from the start. He said although the number of loans approved and the amount was down, larger loans were granted, which pumped more capital into the startup businesses.
"From 2012 to 2013 we saw about the same number of clients and pack and prep time went up, as did the number of jobs created. We had few businesses open, but the loan amounts were higher," Klarich said. "Some of the loans we granted last year were in the $50,000 range which ultimately makes those businesses stronger right away."
During a presentation to Alpena Municipal Council Monday Klarich explained how getting all of the local communities on the same page for the purpose of development is important. He said large commercial and industrial companies look beyond the town they are interested in building. Klarich said it is because of this, smaller communities in northeast Michigan can benefit from working side by side with Alpena.
"Big retailers look at what their draw radius is, or what is the distance people will travel to Alpena to shop or work," Klarich said. "They look 60 miles out and sometimes further. Our workforce is regional and our trade area is that far. We all need to be one voice. That way if a factory wants to open in Presque Isle, the entire region is advocating for it, because we all benefit from it."
Klarich said he believes the announcement that Meijer intends to build a store in Alpena was the highlight of 2013. He said even though the store is not slated to open until 2015, the courtship and plans began several years ago. He said there currently are other plans moving forward and he hopes there will be some official word on the development in the months to come.
"I hope we will be able to start harvesting some of the seeds we planted over the last several years," Klarich said. "We have set the stage for a lot of good things to happen and I suspect there will be some decisions made this year and at a minimum we'll have some agreements in place or understand the plans of some of the people we are talking to in the first six months of this year."
Steve Schulwitz can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5689. Follow Steve on Twitter ss_alpenanews. Read his blog, Upon Further Review ... at www.thealpenanews.com.