ESCANABA - The Delta County Economic Development Alliance (EDA), received funding as well as kudos from city officials during the Escanaba City Council meeting Tuesday.
As budgeted for the current fiscal year, the city released $16,950 to the EDA which will be celebrating its 20th year of operation in 2013.
EDA Director Vicki Schwab explained the EDA was founded in 1993 when the city completed a strategic planning assessment. One of the findings was the need for a single county-wide authority responsible for economic development, she said.
Schwab outlined several successful programs the EDA has accomplished in partnership with the city, Chamber of Commerce, Bay College, Michigan Works!, and the Esky 150 Committee during the past year.
Examples include a $94,000 grant for high-speed Internet in the Whitetail Industrial Park, local and international expansion support for various businesses in the county, marketing of Delta County's assets, and completion of a three-year strategic plan, said Schwab.
Council member Pete Baker commended the EDA for its work, saying he's impressed with what's been done with so little resources and great leadership.
Council member Ron Beauchamp said council should consider providing more funding in the future for the local agency.
Mayor Pro Tem Brady Nelson said job creation needs to be the number one priority for economic development.
He suggested the EDA look at ways to train workforce, improve Internet services, increase local business development internationally, seek venture capital, promote historic development projects, and participate in regional development opportunities.
Looking ahead to the new year, Schwab said after the meeting,
"In 2013, the EDA will continue its economic gardening - growing, fostering and retaining businesses we have and also continue to focus on business attraction."
EDA Board President Tom Butch, who praised Schwab for her work during the past year, said the organization plays a vital role in the county, serving as a centralized body to help retain, grow, and attract business.
"The EDA is a central place for businesses to receive direction, information and help," Butch added.
In other business, council approved the purchase of two new vehicles for Escanaba Public Safety as budgeted. A 2013 Chevrolet Impala is being bought for $21,350 and a 2013 Chevrolet Tahoe is being purchased for $29,200 from Riverside Chevrolet of Escanaba.
Council also accepted a $4,800-$5,000 donation to buy books for the library from the E. James Gordon Family Trust. The funds will be used to update the library's consumer health book collection, said Library Director Carolyn Stacey.