Northern Michigan Chamber Alliance Aims To Address ‘Pillars of Rural Prosperity’ With New Legislation Agenda

Business leaders across the area are focused on tackling key issues hampering economic development in Northern Michigan.

The Northern Michigan Chamber Alliance is made up of nearly 8,000 members of the region’s business community unveiled their legislation agenda for the next two years.

They outlined what they call the four pillars of rural prosperity.

Rural business development.

          Talent attraction to rural areas.

          Rural and small city housing development

          And access to quality child care.

“There are just a lot of problems we as chambers have commonalities with. We do better when we come together,” Gaylord Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director, Taylar Akin, said.

The Northern Michigan Chamber Alliance is made up of nine local chambers of commerce, spanning 14 counties in Northern Michigan.

Their agenda?

To work through complex policy issues with lawmakers to benefit rural areas across the state and address those four key issues.

“It gives us guiding principles so when we are in Lansing and talking with local legislators that we are able to say hey these are the four things that are super important and hot topics for us right now,” Akin, explained.

“All of our members together are struggling with these same issues, so it gives a larger voice and presence in Lansing when bills come up,” she, added.

The four pillars are issues, largely intertwined.

“We are going to need some state support to make this work, otherwise it just can’t happen,” Petoskey Regional Chamber of Commerce President Carlin Smith, said.

Though Smith believes the biggest one is the lack of affordable housing.

“Obviously it’s all about talent and we need to attract talent to Northern Michigan, but I think housing is the component of the talent attraction, which might be our greatest barrier,” Smith, said.

Barriers that can be broken with help; and with teamwork the voice of businesses in rural Michigan will now likely be louder in Lansing than ever before.

“What we need to do in rural communities is to find a way to become competitive collectively with more urban centers, to try and bring workers and professionals to our region,” Smith, said.

“To know now the quality of life that we offer and the sophistication of business opportunities that are here are worth coming for and we need to bring that voice collectively to not only Lansing but the state of Michigan,” Smith, added.