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Outlook for 2006 May Brighten Quickly with Developments in the Works

Real Estate Sales Remain Strong Despite Apparent Economic Downturn

December 18, 2005       Leave a Comment
By: Dave Rogers

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Bay County's economic outlook may look a lot better in 2006

Bay County's economic outlook may soon look a lot better as the following developments are in the works for the new year:

A 52-acre expansion pending for the Valley Center Technology Park, opening the way for a wholesale distribution center with up to 300 jobs;

New state office complex consolidating several state departments from the area in the Johnson Street Industrial Complex, again with about 300 jobs;

New 13,000 square foot factory for Kerkau Manufacturing in the tech park, completed and ready to open, with up to 200-300 jobs; and

New headquarters of Straits Corporation for which construction is underway in Valley Center Tech Park.

Also, in a move key to jobs for the area, Dow Corning Corporation's Hemlock Semiconductor Corp., in Saginaw County, the world's leading producer of silicon, is investing $400-500 million in more laboratory area and production capacity, adding 50 percent to plant space. About 100-150 fulltime jobs are slated to be added.

"The expansion is driven by increasing demand for polycrystalline silicon, the material used in the production of solar cells used to manufacture renewable energy from semiconductor device manufacturing," the firm states. The solar energy field is expected to grow at a 20-25 percent per year pace in the near future.

The plant also makes materials used in production of semiconductors in computers, cell phones and electronics, and produces silicone rubber tubing in a hyperclean environment for medical and other uses.

Despite an apparent downturn in the latter part of 2005, real estate sales remained strong for the year, and the average price of homes sold rose a little. Statistics cited are through Dec. 14 each year.

Statistics from the Bay County Board of Realtors show that nearly as many homes were sold in 2005 as in 2004, 1,532, compared with 1,580 the previous year. However, the average price in 2005 was slightly higher, $103,000, compared with $101,500 in 2004. Total volume was nearly the same, $158,440,857 this year compared with $159,811,221 last year.

Soft spots that have threatened the economic and job stability of the area appear to be enroute to being resolved, including the operations of the Delphi Corporation, with about 6,000 employees in Saginaw, and, at least temporarily, General Motors Corporation, with about 7-800 employees in Bay City.

Several new banks bring an infusion of capital and lending power, including Fifth Third near Wal-Mart on State Street Road, First State Bank at Madison and Sixth, and Thumb National Bank in the former main branch library building at Center and Jackson.

Enterprises in the entertainment and restaurant field also are seeing positive changes here.

Recent opening of Lumber Barons' with 100 plus part-time and fulltime jobs gives a fresh appeal to the Midland Street entertainment district that is a magnet for funseekers from the tri-county area.

G's Pizzahas renovated and reopened the former Terry & Jerry's O' Sole Mio at 1005 Saginaw St. with a pizza and fast food menu that is drawing good crowds to downtown.

In a new development, well-known local caterers Dave Hetzel and Barb Socia have contracted with restaurateur Rick Revette to reopen the former Tucson Jack's for breakfast and lunch under the name 708 Saginaw St. Initial plans do not call for serving alcoholic beverages, Mr. Hetzel said.###

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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

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