ALPENA - Growth can be measured not only by the number of successful achievements, but also by the number of failures.
At Tuesday's Target Alpena annual meeting Alpena Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director of Economic Development Jim Klarich explained how Alpena has ridden a wave of momentum in terms of potential development this past year. He said there have been successes, but also disappointment. Klarich said the letdowns are important because it means Alpena is being considered and not ignored by business suitors, which is half of the battle in luring development.
One of the development highlights in the last year was the announcement that Meijer is going to construct a store on M-32 and it could bring along with it other businesses. The most disappointing is perhaps that Alpena wasn't selected to be a center of excellence from the FAA for unmanned aircraft testing at Alpena County Regional Airport. Klarich said Alpena is taking on the role of the main facilitator for development in the entire region and is expanding in terms of partners. He said its important to remember growth can't take place without some rejection however.
"We are acting like the economic and commercial hub of our region the way we should be. We're also developing deep national and corporate relationships. Some are making, or considering making, big investments," Klarich said. "We are being challenged like never before. We are having success like never before and we are failing like never before, which is awesome. As an organization we have went from an organization of just being here, to one that is looking for ways to get from here to there. Our strategy is well defined and being well executed."
Making Alpena and Northeast Michigan attractive for developers goes beyond Target or partners with the chamber of commerce. He said there are many people, as well as businesses and organizations, stepping up to improve the community. He said it's that type of commitment that ultimately will make Alpena more appealing. Klarich said new partnerships, such as the one with Presque Isle County also will promote growth.
"We are beginning to represent other counties and will continue to work with our neighbors and we are place-making like never before," Klarich said. "We're talking about building new roads, not for the sake of building them, but because we are planning ahead. Members of our community are taking it upon themselves to clean up neglected corridors in our area and others are making hard money investments. These efforts all matter and I want to thank everyone for contributing to that end."
Target President Wayne Kowalski thanked Klarich for his efforts and reiterated that Target's goal hasn't changed, even though it has partnered with the chamber. He said both the chamber and Target want to push Alpena forward and see the area grow.
"The board is totally committed to being good stewards in the investment that you give to grow this region," Kowalski said. "Jim spoke of failures, but I don't think of them as failures. I think of them as setbacks. The unmanned aircraft project is one example. People thought it was done when the center of excellence dropped out. That is not so. We're still moving forward with it. It was just a setback and we're going to keep moving ahead. Together we will grow this region."
Klarich and Kowalski also acknowledged the partnership with the chamber has been a good one and that is spurring development and business expansion.
"I've been involved with Target for six years and I think to me one of the things that has made a big difference with our organization is the fact we joined with the chamber," Kowalski said. "Before we joined the chamber most of the revenue we would get was from public support. Now we have private support in this room today and it has given us an opportunity as business people to invest in growing this community which we need so vitally to grow our businesses. We have team effort going on and that has never been done before."
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