PI, Target form partnership

ROGERS CITY – Presque Isle County’s Economic Development Corporation and County Development Commission will contract with Target Alpena to help pursue economic growth in the region.

County commissioners agreed to the deal Friday after hearing more from CDC/EDC board President Tom Sobeck and Jim Klarich, Alpena Area Chamber of Commerce Economic Development executive director. For $20,000 a year, Target Alpena will promote the county using a more regional approach. The county will get a seat on Target Alpena’s board; the EDC and Target Alpena will meet every two months; and commissioners will get an update twice a year.

“We think that it is probably the most efficient use of county money at this time for economic development,” Sobeck said. “We don’t think we should hire a director full-time, and this will give us the most leverage for our money.”

The CDC and EDC have been without a director since Joe Cercone stepped down at the end of 2013, Sobeck said. He had been the director in the past, and came in for a few months to handle ongoing projects after Joe Libby left the position earlier in the year. Services outlined in the contract between the CDC/EDC and Target Alpena closely resemble the job description the organization has used in the past when seeking directors.

Board Chairman Carl Altman said he liked the fact the contract doesn’t lock the county in for any amount of time, and gives it the ability to withdraw with notice. It’s less than the county’s paid for a CDC/EDC director in the past, and he’s hopeful the arrangement will produce positive results.

“It is a good idea to approach this in a regional manner,” he said. “If you’re a neighboring county, what helps one county, there’s going to be some spinoff to help your county.”

When Klarich presented the idea earlier in March, he said businesses like Meijer take a wider area into account when deciding where to locate. On Friday, he said challenges the region faces don’t stop at county lines, and neither do solutions.

Commissioners approved the agreement 3-0, with Vice Chairman Robert Schell and Commissioner Steve Lang absent. It takes effect Tuesday.

In other business:

* the county will advertise for liability insurance, and commissioners approved a bid for airport insurance at $2,453 from Avsurance. Theirs was the lowest of four bids.

* commissioners approved a 35-month contract with EnerCom for natural gas at 50.509 cents per hundred cubic feet.

* commissioners approved a fair housing resolution, and gave county Housing Commission Director Michelle LaBar the OK to apply for $150,000 in Community Development Block Grant funds, the same amount the county has received in the past.

* commissioners appointed Gary Wozniak, Kurt Nowak and Mike Marx to the county building board of appeals.

* the Presque Isle County Airport will advertise the availability of fuel on the website Airnav.com. Commissioner Mike Darga said it’s $50 for the initial setup, then $19 per year. The county made $4,069.94 in profit on airplane fuel, money the county won’t have to take out of its general fund to pay for airport projects.

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.