Trade Zone to develop marketing plan

Jenny Lancour | Daily Press Members of the Superior Trade Zone meet at the Maple Ridge Township Hall in Rock for a past meeting to discuss the creation of a strategic plan to market assets in Delta and Marquette counties to potential developers.

ROCK — The Superior Trade Zone (STZ) — a state-sanctioned economic development zone in Delta and Marquette counties — will be using a $50,000 grant to create a strategy that will market the region’s assets to potential developers.

During a meeting in Rock on Tuesday, STZ representatives agreed to go ahead with the strategic plan using a $50,000 grant from the Defense Manufacturing Assistance Program (DMAP), which assists communities affected by declining defense funding.

Delta County’s Economic Development Alliance Executive Director Vicki Schwab informed the STZ members that the University of Michigan and DMAP are ready to move forward on the project following input gathered at the STZ meeting with local manufacturers in February.

Schwab explained a team from the university and DMAP will draft an advisory plan on the scope of work to create a request for proposal to hire a consultant to develop the strategic plan.

Schwab added the project could potentially last for about nine months using a portion of the $50,000 DMAP grant. Remaining grant funds can be used for additional projects during a three-year period, she noted.

The DMAP is funded through the U.S. Department of Defense, the Office of Economic Adjustment, and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) and offered in Michigan, Indiana and Ohio through the University of Michigan, Purdue University and the Ohio State University.

DMAP grant funds are used for projects to enhance the economy of eligible communities by maintaining or adding jobs and by diversifying products to ensure items in the defense supply chain remain ready for national security.

The STZ is one of seven Next Michigan Development Corporations approved by the MEDC to allow units of government to use state tax incentives to encourage new economic development as well as expand present businesses that use multi-modes of transportation.

The local trade zone includes city, township and county representatives from Delta and Marquette counties who are working together to market business opportunities, improve infrastructure, and offer financial incentives to promote economic growth in the region.

STZ members from Delta County represent the county, Gladstone and Escanaba cities, and the townships of Bark River, Ford River, Garden, Maple Ridge, Masonville, Nahma, and Wells.

Members from Marquette County represent the county, the city of Marquette, and the townships of Chocolay, Ely, Forsyth, Humboldt, Ishpeming, Negaunee, and Richmond.

The STZ’s first project has been the development of a website, which remains ongoing. An update on the website’s progress was presented at Tuesday’s meeting held at the Maple Ridge Township Hall in Rock.

In other business Tuesday, the group discussed hiring professional services to run the day-to-day operations of the STZ and creating a purchasing policy for the trade zone.

The next meeting will be held at 9 a.m. on June 20 in Rock. There will be no meeting in July. The August meeting is scheduled for 9 a.m. on Aug. 22 in Rock.

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Jenny Lancour, (906) 786-2021, ext. 143,