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Column: New school year is starting soon

ESCANABA — Like so many of you, my daughter is starting a new year of classes. The big difference from the past will be, what is classroom education going to look like in 2020/2021. The anxiety for both our students and teachers has to be at an all-time high. Our teachers need to have their plans for the semester ready to go, but also need a Plan B if there are pandemic problems. I have so much respect for our Educators and what they do on a daily basis to help our kids. This year will be extremely challenging for everyone. So much change to all aspects of the educational experience, everything from learning, extra circular activities and social events will all be different this year. Make sure to tell the educators you see in the coming weeks, thank you for all they do.

As of Aug. 5, we have had over half a million cars cross the Mackinac Bridge. The traffic and visitors to the U.P. has been steady, your efforts to keep our communities safe seems to be working well. The U.P. continues to see a very low infection rate at less than 0.7% of the state’s total daily infection rate. Based on Aug. 5’s data, the U.P. has had 478 cases since the state of emergency was declared than the Lower Peninsula had in a single day last week (520). As much as you can, follow the guidance of our health professionals. Your efforts help protect yourself and everyone that is around you. As the slogan goes, “Keep it UP!” The lower COVID-19 results are not an accident in the U.P., it is because of everyone’s efforts.

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation’s Small Business Restart Grants program closed its application period on Aug. 5. The U.P. had 1,330 applications for this program. The award pool for the U.P. is $4.5 million. Delta County had the second most applicants in the U.P. with 163. The MEDC has stipulated that 30% of the grants go to minority owned businesses (Minority, Women or Veteran Ownership). Delta County will have the right mix as we go through the review process. The timeline will include a regional meeting the week of Aug. 17-21. Based on the decisions of the regional leaders, the final list of awards will go to the MEDC on Aug. 31. Notification to the businesses will happen shortly after that during the first part of September. The grant funding will follow after the notifications. I feel very good based on the number of applications for Delta County, an significant increase over the last MEDC grant program in March. We will have more awards based on more money in this program, but not every business will get an award. I hope there will be other aid programs for our businesses as we move forward in 2020. The Delta County Economic Development Alliance and its other UP partners will continue to do what we can to support our UP businesses through the pandemic. We will communicate any new opportunities to support your business. Stay safe.

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Ed Legault is director of the Delta County Economic Development Alliance

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