IRON MOUNTAIN, Mich. (WZMQ) – The Dickinson Area Economic Development Alliance convened today at Bay College in Iron Mountain to present its Fall Update, shedding light on crucial strategies and initiatives.
Five taskforce groups, alongside the newly launched Link-Up Professionals Circle, delivered comprehensive updates regarding developments, concerns, and highlights. Lois Ellis, the Director of Economic Development, used the platform to underscore the persistent issues surrounding county housing, with a particular emphasis on the middle-class housing sector.
Ellis went on to discuss the Alliance’s endeavors to inform the public about state-issued tools aimed at bridging cost disparities faced by housing developers in terms of equity and infrastructure.
In a statement, Ellis emphasized, “One of those is related to Brownfield tax increment financing. And that is just rolling out. They will work with local Brownfield Authorities, and help housing projects work financially. But the Build-Up fund has a mechanism to help with both of those gaps. And so that through Invest UP has been a wonderful resource.”
The Build-Up Fund is a $15 million dollar regional fund through Invest UP that closes gaps in collateral, equity, and infrastructure costs.
“Another one is the Missing Middle Housing Program that MISHDA has rolled out, which is really helping with that market-rate housing that is workforce-ready, and helping our communities address that gap that has been so existent across the region,” added Ellis.
The Fall Update also unveiled upcoming training webinars set for October, designed to educate housing developers on the effective utilization of Brownfield tax financing within the county, offering a glimmer of hope in addressing the housing challenges faced by the community.
Today’s fall update by the Dickinson Area Economic Development Alliance covered several key points:
1. Government Task Force:
– VA hospital tours received fantastic feedback with plans for yearly or bi-yearly visits.
– MAC board meeting to be held at Pine Mountain with county commissioners attending.
– Old church repurposed, with pews going to the airport hangar and stained-glass windows being preserved.
– Removal of the old water tank on a hill with substantial state funding for land bank blight grants.
– Spring visits in Lansing, and efforts to boost fundraising for the Kingsford centennial event.
– Post-covid economic resiliency strategy. Currently working with CUPAD for the past 2 years. Draft plan just came out within the last couple of weeks, and is being reviewed.
2. Ford Airport:
– The new hangar at Ford Airport is operational, with another one for private individuals coming soon.
– There’s anticipation of the airport accommodating larger planes.
– A tour of the airport through the Rotary Club was announced.
3. Civic Development:
– New windows installed in the courthouse, indicating growth in Dickinson County.
– Elsa Pontbriand from Mountain Media House discussed the “Belong” talent retention program and social media strategies.
4. Small Business Task Force:
– Focus on small business retention, tax planning, and affordable healthcare options.
– Upcoming training sessions on new Google products and AI.
– Expansion of Lemonade Day, with Suzanne Larson of the Chamber of Commerce in Texas right now learning more about how to expand lemonade day. Anticipation for more schools to join in on teaching students entrepreneurial skills through lemonade day.
– Loyal to Local Summit coming soon.
5. Housing Task Force:
– Mention of MISHDA’s housing development plan.
– Emphasis on the $15-million-dollar Build UP fund’s usefulness for housing developers.
– Advocacy for changes in the solid waste plan and an economic resiliency plan (for times of potential economic downturn.
– Support for the Circle Power Project at former Groveland Mine.
6. Environmental Concerns:
– The need for increased recycling efforts in the UP.
– Potential use of Marquette recycling facility instead of building one in Dickinson.
– Infrastructure upgrades in Kingsford and Iron Mountain.
– Ongoing challenges with UP roads.
7. Talent Education:
– Upcoming Manufacturing Day on Oct 6th, hosting 300 9th graders from the county.
– Updates on “Link Up” a new circle of professionals launched this spring. Link-Up has been designated its own taskforce within the Dickinson area Economic Development Alliance, with plans for expansion across the Upper Peninsula.
8. Economic Director Lois Ellis:
– Ongoing housing challenges, particularly middle-market housing.
– Efforts to educate developers about new programs and tools.
– Praise for the Landbank Authority and regional housing partnership.
– Upcoming activities in Lansing and Small Business Development Training.
– Discussion of the positive impact of the new cancer center. Poses less travel restraints on local patients.
– Mention of Bellin Health and the VA facility in the area. The VA was discussed as a key factor in bringing people to the area.
10. Medical examiner facility to go in at Ford airport:
– Plans for a medical examiner facility at the airport due to limited space at the hospital.
Ellis will be in Lansing next month to meet with legislators, and encourages the public to contact her with messages she can relay to legislators.
The Dickinson Area Economic Development Alliance is encouraging the public to connect with them on social media.
These updates reflect the economic development, and various initiatives in the Dickinson County area.
For more information about the Dickinson Area Economic Development Alliance, visit:
Upcoming Webinar Trainings for Housing Developers:
One for consultants (Oct 2)
One for Developers (Oct 6)
Refer to this link for meeting details:
Informational Webinar focusing on MISHDA, and the housing activities now eligible under Act 381. EGLE will send out a link for registration once it opens. Past webinars are available online.
For more information about the Missing Middle Housing program, which currently has a total of $80 million, and is in its second round of state funding, visit: