Column: Spring is here, April Fools

ESCANABA — I am not sure why every major change in weather seems to happen when it is my turn to write the “Mind Our Own Business” article for the Chamber. A few days ago all of the snow had melted and people where doing spring outside activities, then once again we are hit with a big storm. At least we weren’t at the truly high end snow totals like some of our friends in the U.P. My track record as a weather forecaster has not been very good, but I am sure we have turned the corner on the white sticky precipitation and will be seeing more traditional spring showers.

What impact has the Federal Reserve Policy Board decisions had on our many possible housing, business expansion, and other financially driven projects in Delta County? While most everyone was optimistic we would see some lowering of interest rates early in 2024, that has not been the case. Some of our national financial companies have signaled they expect to see some lowering of rates as we move into summer, but for the general populous we want to see the board take action. Once everyone sees some movement in rates I feel we will see some of our projects move forward. We are seeing tools that will assist the creation of missing middle housing. MSDHA revealed a new program this week, “MI Neighborhood” that would take a few of the past programs and combine them into one program. The program was designed to add flexibility to the MSDHA tools. There programs were originally designed for low to moderate income projects. The type of projects that are now eligible will support construction or rehab of housing for Low Income, Moderate Income & Middle Income residents. These programs can be used with other tools that could help move projects forward like InvestUP’s BuildUP fund. The BuildUP fund is an economic resiliency tool to help housing projects move forward if they have a gap in their financial stack.

My hope is with a little encouragement on interest rates and construction costs, developers will decide that now is the time to move forward. We need workforce housing in our area desperately.

This week I will get to hear from the Regional Outreach Director for the 9th District Federal Reserve, Erick Garcia Luna. I hope his message shows a positive vision for the immediate future.

Bay College President, Dr. Nerita Hughes has continued to seek feedback from local citizens regarding the impact of Bay to the local community and any changes they would like to see. I have been impressed with Dr. Hughes engagement with the public and the business community regarding how Bay can have a bigger impact on their staffing needs. Sharing a vision of the critical skill sets our businesses are looking for in their staffing searches. I am very excited about the role Bay will play in the future of our area. Make sure to provide your feedback as you can and support the efforts of the college as we move forward.

We have seen the soft launch so far in 2024 regarding events for the community. We will be seeing many music, civic and fundraising activities as we move through spring and transition to summer. I reviewed the calendar and everyone will have an opportunity to find meaningful, fun and interesting events through the rest of the year. Please get out and enjoy the beautiful area we live in and support your favorite organizations causes.

Best wishes.

— — —

Ed Legault is executive director of the Delta County Economic Development Alliance.


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)
Are you a paying subscriber to the newspaper? *

Starting at $2.99/week.

Subscribe Today