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www.mybaycity.com June 27, 2004
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Here's Your Chance to Help Shape Bay County's Future Economic Growth

Public Input Meetings Set Tuesday and Wednesday in the DoubleTree Hotel

June 27, 2004       Leave a Comment
By: Dave Rogers

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Although the Bay County Growth Alliance has sparked growth of industries and creation of 853 jobs in Valley Center Technology Park, opposition from officials and residents of Monitor Township threatens to choke off this economic development effort.
 

      Do people in Bay County favor economic growth? Or are they satisfied with declining jobs, income and population?

      The question may be answered this week at two public meetings "designed to redirect our economy to one of growth and vitality."

     Town Hall meetings will be held Tuesday and Wednesday to get public input on the goal of increasing the number of livable wage jobs.


      The public sessions called by County Executive Tom Hickner and County Commissioner Brian Elder come in the wake of the report of an "economic assessment and overview of Bay County" by an Atlanta, Georgia, consulting firm.

      Meetings will be held Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. and Wednesday at 8 a.m. in the DoubleTree Hotel - Bay City Riverfront. (For further information, call 895-4196).

      The report by Competitive Strategies Group LLC (CSG) clearly indicates local economic malaise. In summary, the report states:

      
  • Bay County's population is declining, and aging;

  • Wages and income at $31,051 average wage per job is 14 percent below the national average, 17 percent below the state average, 10 percent below Saginaw County and 8 percent below Racine County, Wisconsin (considered a comparable area for study purposes). Per capita income at $26,067 is also below the averages.

          
  • Total employment declined by 2,066 employees, or five percent, between 1997 and 2002.

          "The impact of the recession of 2001 was the defining event in Bay County's current economy," states the report. "Abrupt losses in 2001 shifted the economy into a local slump, which persists today. Overall changes in total employment are negative. Relatively high out-commuting to Saginaw County and the heavy concentration of manufacturing job losses in both Bay and Saginaw counties has led to stagnation in earnings and a decline in the construction and retail sectors."

          However, there are some bright spots, the report states: "Despite overall losses, several industry sectors have done well over the most recent period. Bay County has experienced relatively strong gains in financial activities, as well as moderate gains in the information, transportation and leisure and hospitalitysectors."

          "To do nothing but reduce spending and issue layoff notices will result in more of the same business closings and job losses," states the county invitation to the events. "Action is needed now to reverse this trend and grow the local economy."

          Mr. Hickner and Mr. Elder have taken the lead, along with Chemical Bank-Bay City President Dominic Monastiere, in forging a public-private sector alliance for economic development to be called "Bay Futures." An appropriation by the Board of Commissioners and a matching grant from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation are funding the process for a Bay area Community Economic Development Plan, said Laura Ogar, director of environmental affairs and community development for the county.

          The Economic Assessment and Overview to be presented at the public meetings was prepared by Tom Tveidt, research economist of Clear Economics LLC, an affiliate of CSG. Tveidt is director of the Asheville (NC( Metro Business Research Center and an instructor for the National Association of State Development Agencies (NASDA) and the American Chamber of Commerce Researchers Association (ACCRA) on accurate presentation of economic data. He is a member of the editorial board of the journal Applied Research in Economic Development published by Georgia Southern University. He has a BA in Economics from the University of Southern California and an MBA in Finance from California Lutheran University, Thousand Oaks, CA.###



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    Dave Rogers

    Dave Rogers is a former editorial writer for the Bay City Times and a widely read,
    respected journalist/writer in and around Bay City.
    (Contact Dave Via Email at carraroe@aol.com)

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