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www.mybaycity.com May 22, 2005
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Van Dyke Pledges Continuation of Growth Alliance, Eyes Business Incubator

County Agreement Still Needed for Expansion of Monitor DDA, O'Brien Says

May 22, 2005       Leave a Comment
By: Dave Rogers

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Bob Adamowski, CEO of Bay County Board of REALTORS, speaks to group
 

The Bay County Growth Alliance no longer manages the Monitor Township Downtown Development Authority but the 30-year-old economic development organization is still alive and well, says Cliff Van Dyke, president.

And the Monitor DDA still is hopeful for an agreement by the Bay County Commission and the Monitor Township Board for expansion of the 200 acre Valley Center Technology Park, and will aim for development north of US-10, according to J. Patrick O'Brien, vice president.

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He introduced Sue Pike as the new operating official of the DDA, with offices to be located in the Monitor Township Hall at Midland and Three Mile roads.

The timing is tough, but voters should look positively at a Bay City school bond issue proposal in November, according to Tom Paige, Williams Township supervisor and chairman of the Bay County Township Officers Association, a former school board member.

Those reports, and an update on the new Bay Future organization, a revived public-private partnership, were the keynotes of a Bay County Board of Realtors economic development forum held last Friday in the Holiday Inn.

Dominic Monastiere, president of Bay Future, Inc., said the new executive director, Fred Hollister, due here from Piqua, Ohio, June 6, "will take a laser beam approach" targeting the 24 main recommendations of the Whittaker Report. Bay Future will avoid duplicating the efforts of other economic development organizations because of the community's limited resources, he said.

Call Bay Future at 892-1400 or access the website on line at BayFuture.com.

About 40 Realtors, developers, investors and local officials heard Laura Ogar, county director of environmental affairs and community development, report that the financial sector is up nearly 400 jobs here.

Employment also is up in real estate as the county is digging out of the 2001 recession. A report last fall by Whittaker and Associates, based on surveys of local business people, noted that the effects of globalization and free trade were being felt here.

The report also said Bay County needs improved government-business relations and rated it 2.5 on a 5 point scale for business climate.

The session was sponsored by the Realtors in an effort to acquaint members, others in the business community and local government officials with the $70,000 report, paid for by the county and the Michigan Economic Development Commission (MEDC).



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The report cites government consolidation of services, consistent and predictable government policy toward business and a good education system as the three greatest needs of the Bay County/Bay City community.

While there is "a negative public perception of the education system," the report cites "the community's three greatest benefits as low crime, quality of life and low cost of living and a small town atmosphere with nice people."

Mr. Hickner noted that the county has cut $1 million from its budget through job attrition but that its finances "are in good shape and its bond rating has risen, "reflecting consistency in fiscal policy."

Mr. Hickner added: "We all have a responsibility to promote economic growth; we can't assume that Bay Future will do it all."

Mr. Van Dyke said the Growth Alliance has built a $3 million revolving loan fund from successful investment in the Valley Center Technology Park and will provide start-up and gap financing of worthy job-producing projects county-wide.

"A business incubator is something the county needs and I'm sure one will get underway," said Van Dyke. He pledged to work in conjunction with Bay Future, the City of Bay City P.O.W.E.R. Fund and the Monitor and other DDAs.

The Whittaker report is available on line. Click Here For the Full 86 Page Report in PDF Format



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Dave Rogers

Dave Rogers is a former editorial writer for the Bay City Times and a widely read,
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