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City Commissioner Chris Girard, left, chats with Bay Future, Inc., President Mark Litten, center, and Trevor Keyes, new vice president. (Photo courtesy Bay Area Chamber of Commerce)

LOFTY GOAL: Top 10 North America Position Aim of Bay Future, Litten Says

March 4, 2015       Leave a Comment
By: Dave Rogers

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The local economic development agency, Bay Future, Inc., aims to be rated among the top 10 such agencies in North America, says the new president, Mark Litten.

Speaking Tuesday at the eye-opener breakfast of the Bay Area Chamber of Commerce, his "maiden voyage" as a speaker locally, Litten expansively outlined his goals for the public-private partnership.

Bay Future will have a new strategic action plan by the end of the summer, he said.

"We will work together to ensure the success and vibrancy of the local economy," exclaimed Litten, proclaiming Bay Future "ready for the next level.".

Sitting in the audience nodding approval was County Commissioner Donald Tilley, new chair of the Bay Future, Inc., board.

Referring to the accomplishments of the agency since 2004-2005 and the leadership of former president Megan Samyn, now at McLaren Medical Center, Litten pointed to $700 million investments and 2,300 jobs created or retained.

"Our goal is to surpass that," said Litten, noting that there was an 18-month gap during which agency leadership was filled by interim president Trevor Keyes, recently named vice president of Bay Future.

Dismissing Litten's dreams as merely brave talk would be a mistake, a review of his record as executive director of the Greater Erie County Ohio Marketing Group (GEM) shows.

Litten helped shepherd the Kalahari Resort & Convention Center $200 million investment and 1,500 new jobs, development of three industrial & corporate parks, facilitation of Visteon Corp (ACH) $62 million expansion, Freudenberg-NOK's $14.7 million expansion, Lear Corp (IAC) $13.5 million expansion, and Denton ATD's relocation project, preserving 50 jobs in the community.

He successfully led the Erie County Economic Development Corporation through a 5-year Capital Funding Campaign in 2004-2005 that raised $1.25 million for programming operations and was recognized by Site Selection Magazine as a "Top 10 Economic Development Group" in 2005 for North America.

During his tenure at GEM, the resort-entertainment area of Sandusky Ohio added water parks that expanded the tourism season, saw a $19 million convention center built at the Kalahari resort and the addition of half-million dollar condominiums.

"Our tourist season used to be Memorial Day to Labor Day, and now it's more of a year-round tourist season," Litten told the Toledo Blade in 2007.

Kalahari's $50 million expansion, included the nation's largest indoor water park and 96 high end condominiums, built by Rudolph/Libbe Inc., of Walbridge, Ohio.

The metro Toledo firm also built a $19 million convention center at the resort in 2006.

Much of the growth of indoor water-park resorts in the United States has occurred in the Midwest, said David Sangree, president of Hotel & Leisure Advisors LLC, a Cleveland consulting firm.

Sixty-four of the nation's 79 such resorts are in the Midwest, and half of those were built between 2002 and 2006, Sangree said in 2007. More growth is expected.

There was no talk yet of a water park for Bay County, but the Toledo newspaper pointed out that Wisconsin Dells has 18 water parks and all are successful.

Certainly, a water park perhaps at the booming Uptown at RiversEdge site might be an option, but we'll have to wait for the Bay Future strategic plan to find out if that may be in the cards.

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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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