Traverse City Record-Eagle

the BIZ

March 5, 2014

Laura Galbraith: Demand for development resources high

TRAVERSE CITY — One of the eye-opening experiences from the distribution of funds from the dissolution of the Leelanau County Economic Development Corp. was the overwhelming response from Leelanau-based businesses.

More than 60 businesses submitted grant applications seeking more than $300,000, making for some tricky math considering there was just $19,000 available.

Also of note was the wide-range of business interests seeking help: familiar Leelanau names existing for generations, and new operations still carving out a niche`. The ideas were equally intriguing: research into hardier grape varietals for Leelanau’s burgeoning wine and grape industry, inventory software, equipment purchases and more.

The 18 modest grants of $1,000 or $1,250 likely won’t create a significant boost in Leelanau County’s economy, and giving away free money is hardly a sustainable economic development strategy. But the grant program produced one definitive outcome – there are scores of business owners looking for resources to improve their companies, and plenty of other residents who view it as an important local priority.

Organizations like the Traverse City Area Chamber are expanding the local resources available for business start-ups. In just two years, the Chamber’s business financing efforts have mushroomed into an impressive loan portfolio totaling more than $750,000. Other proposals in the works will soon push that figure past $1 million. Almost two dozen local businesses have tapped these programs.

It’s taken a lot of work – and investment. For instance, the process to become certified as a partner with the U.S. Department of Agriculture for the new Intermediary Relending Program (IRP) took almost two years. Training was needed for Chamber staff to complete the Certified Economic Development (CEcD) certification through the Michigan Economic Developers Association. The Chamber also partnered with other organizations like Fifth Third Bank and Traverse City Light and Power to bolster its lending pool, and invested its own funds through the Traverse City Area Chamber Foundation.

Text Only

Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter
Associated Press Video
Obama: Putin must push separatists to aid MH17 probe Michigan inmates no longer allowed to wear orange due to 'OITNB' Adam Levine Ties the Knot Sebastian The Ibis Walks Beautiful Bride Down The Aisle | ACC Must See Moment NASA Ceremony Honors Moon Walker Neil Armstrong Faces of Souls Lost in Malaysian Plane Crash 105-year-old woman throws first pitch Man Creates Spreadsheet of Wife's Reasons for Turning Down Sex 'Weird Al' Is Wowed by Album's Success Rory McIlroy struggles, surges, wins British Open NOW TRENDING: Real life Pac-Man Explosions as hot air balloon crashes in Clinton DUI Driver Dragged to Safety by Officer After Walking Onto Busy Freeway Celebrities That We'd Like to Send to the Moon Spectacular lightning storm hits London Malaysian Flight Victim Was South Florida Grad Rory McIlroy on pace to break British Open records Officials Fear MH17 Site Now Tampered by Rebels Lowes employees repair Vietnam vet's wheelchair Widow of Staten Island man who died after NYPD takedown says he was unjustifiably targeted