ESCANABA - The Joint Governmental Round Table Discussion at Escanaba City Hall on Wednesday presented businesses and organizations with programs to help them grow in the Upper Peninsula.
The issue of how the elimination of the personal property tax could damage the U.P. was also raised at the meeting.
The major topic on the agenda at this month's meeting was a presentation on the Upper Peninsula Economic Development Alliance, an organization that serves as a forum connecting businesses and organizations with the goal of economic growth in the region.
In the late 1990s, there was very little communication between regions when it came to creating economic growth in the U.P., according to officials.
"People were very competitive and one economic developer couldn't go into another county to visit businesses or talk to people or do anything like that," said Holly Peoples of the Business Services Team at Michigan Works! The Job Force Board. "They really saw the need to build synergy among those entities and try to help people work together to leverage all of our assets in the U.P., to grow businesses, and bring businesses into the U.P., rather than competing with each other."
The UPDEA links together a network of counties in the U.P., as well as neighboring areas in Wisconsin and Canada.
"It is of huge value and importance when you can network with all of the key economic people across the region and have an international component from Canada, as well," added Delta Economic Development Alliance Director Vickie Schwab.
The UPEDA is also offering membership at a reduced rate for the 2012 calendar year. For more information about UPEDA or for a full list of rates and services, visit www.upeda.com or call 789-0558.
The Delta EDA has also been involved in a program through the Michigan Small Business and Technology Development center.
"They've rolled out a model for not-for-profit organizations where, for a nominal fee, they have certified trainers in the process that can come in and help your organization put together and structure a strategic plan," said Schwab. The EDA recently completed a three-year strategic planning process led by the MSBTDC.
Among the talk of growth-based programs, the subject of the elimination of the business personal property tax drew concern. Many fear that if proposed legislation passes and the tax is eliminated, it will further limit funding for many U.P. programs.
"If we have a loss of personal property, there are going to be quite a few communities in Delta County who are going to be hurt," said Bill Farley, Wells Township supervisor.
Other officials agreed.
"If a community is 40,000 population or above, they will probably see some reimbursement. If they're less than that, they will not see reimbursement," explained Lloyd Matthes, executive director for the Central Upper Peninsula Planning and Development Regional Commission. "That tells you where the U.P. stands because our biggest community is 20,000."