PI County EDC may work with Target Alpena

ROGERS CITY – The Presque Isle County Economic Development Corporation may partner with Target Alpena to promote business in the region.

For $20,000 a year, Target Alpena would promote Presque Isle County using a more regional focus. Target Alpena also would work with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation to bring in new business, handle any of the EDC and County Development Commission’s existing loan programs and work to increase import and export opportunities. An EDC board member would get a seat on Target Alpena’s board, members of the two corporations would meet every other month and county commissioners would hear a report twice a year.

EDC board President Tom Sobeck and Alpena Area Chamber of Commerce Economic Development Executive Director Jim Klarich presented the idea to county commissioners Wednesday. Sobeck said the EDC has been without a director since December 2013, and he believes partnering with Target Alpena, which merged with the Alpena Area Chamber of Commerce, is a better way to promote business in the county.

“The model that we used in Presque Isle County for a number of years, I think we can do better,” he said.

Klarich told commissioners that incoming businesses look at Northeast Michigan as a whole, citing the soon-to-be-built Meijer in Alpena as an example. The retailer didn’t consider the city and its population of around 10,300 alone, but rather everyone living within a 60-mile radius. Industry considering locating in either county likely would take a similar view.

Commissioner Steve Lang said the proposal would be cheaper than what the county was paying for its own staff. The county had paid $40,000 for an EDC director and secretary. Plus, a more region-focused approach could benefit the area.

“We just don’t have enough money or oomph or firepower to do this stuff on our own anymore,” he said.

Commissioners will consider the idea, and county Prosecutor Richard Steiger will look over an agreement Sobeck and Klarich provided. They’ll likely discuss it again at their March 28 meeting.

“It certainly needs some consideration, and I think it could be a good idea if it works,” Chairman Carl Altman said.

In other business:

commissioners will seek clarification on bills related to caring for 38 dogs seized by sheriff’s deputies from a Hawks kennel in January. Specifically, they will ask if donations from residents and businesses were counted when calculating the costs. Bonnie Altman – no relation to Carl Altman – told the board one business donated 63 50-pound bags of dog food to help feed the animals, and county residents donated money as well.

commissioners approved a resolution allowing employees to establish health care savings accounts through the Municipal Employees Retirement System. County Clerk Ann Marie Main said the accounts allow public employees to invest money for health care costs, money they can spend after they leave their job. They can be established at no cost to the county, but the board had to adopt the resolution before employees can do so.

Commissioner Mike Darga said the county isn’t considering eliminating its recycling program, but is looking at ways to provide the service at less of a cost to the county. That includes asking for funding from townships and local businesses.

Altman asked commissioners to think of someone from their district to appoint to a special committee to provide independent observations on the state of the county courthouse.

Jordan Travis can be reached via email at jtravis@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5688. Follow Jordan on Twitter @jt_alpenanews. Read his blog, A Snowball’s Chance, at www.thealpenanews.com.