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East Bay Township and Gaylord Receive State Support For New Community Development Hires

Two Northern Michigan communities are hiring, thanks to funding from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.

This is the fourth year for the Community Development Fellowship program. Ten communities across the state are getting financial support to hire an extra employee to help with growth and development.

CEDAM (the Community Economic Development Association of Michigan) Director of Communications Emily Reyst says, “really, we’re looking for folks who do want to make a difference in their own community, but also anyone who is interested in community and economic development.”

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In Northern Michigan: Gaylord and Grand Traverse County’s East Bay township won the competitive grants in the fourth year of the project.

”It’s a competitive grant program. There were ten communities selected and we are super excited that East Bay Township was one of those ten communities. And it’s funded through CEDAM in partnership with MEDC, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation,” Claire Karner, East Bay Township’s Director of Planning and Zoning, says.

Reyst says, “we go through a competitive process so communities have to apply to become a fellow host community. And we have a review committee that chooses those host communities. The communities do have to be engaged with the Redevelopment Ready Communities Certification program, which is through the MEDC, and why they’re such strong partners in this work.”

Funding comes from the MEDC and CEDAM.

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“CEDAM is providing training, the salaries for the fellows. (They) are their full time employees,” Reyst says. “This is a really great opportunity for folks to really understand how local government works, how things come together through partnerships with other entities in the community, why community engagement is so important. Those are the types of things that fellows will be doing, working with kind of across the board, with the community, with the local government, with non-profits, with business owners.”

Fellows will tackle a range of tasks to help their communities thrive. Reyst says, “really anybody that is interested and motivated and making things happen in their community is the right person to apply. So whether you are a college graduate or whether you have retired, we have had folks from really across the age and experience spectrum apply for the fellowship.”

Past fellows have done similar work in communities like St. Ignace, Grayling, Charlevoix, and Cheboygan.

“We’re excited to see the fellows that will end up in those communities really carry out some important community engagement work in order to further the rewrite of the zoning ordinances, implement the master plan, some really exciting stuff. Even though if it doesn’t sound like it on paper, these are really important projects that will help more housing, more businesses come to the area,” Reyst says.

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Karner says these are important projects that will help lead to things like additional housing, and new businesses coming to the township.

“We’re working through a number of different plans and policies to support economic development and community development. And so the fellow will provide some added capacity to East Bay Township. We have a ton of exciting projects that we’re planning to have the fellow engaged in, so it needs to be someone that is ready to work. So we’re going to have them assisting with some of our trails and non-motorized projects, the Three Mile trail extension and the Safe Routes to School. We’ll be engaging them on our US-31 corridor, place-making engagement with the businesses along there; and some of the economic and community development and redevelopment of some of those sites. We will have them working on some of our housing and some of our zoning changes to support the types of development that we want in East Bay Township. So lots of exciting projects,” Karner says.

“They would be very much at the forefront of the scenes building relationships with community members, with potential developers, working with nonprofit organizations. So really trying to build goodwill in the community and build relationships, and help promote some of our planning initiatives. A lot of community engagement, working with the public,” Karner adds. “I think the relationship building is going to be huge because a lot of how we make positive impacts in the community is listening to the public, convening meetings, building relationships with non-profits, building relationships with business owners. And, you know, a lot of the success of some of the place-making and public infrastructure improvements that we want to do along the US 31 corridor is really, you know, the foundation is relationship building and trying to better understand what the needs are of that community.”

The position is full-time, but it’s temporary. It’s a 15-month assignment. “There’s no minimum qualifications for the fellow besides just an interest in community development and making a difference,” Karner says. “We’re looking for someone with interest and possibly some background in public policy and community and economic development.”

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Although it’s a temporary job, there’s always the possibility it could springboard into something permanent.

Karner says, “I think that would be awesome. We haven’t figured out all the details of that, but I could certainly see that as a possibility.” And Reyst adds it’s happened in previous fellowships. “It has been so exciting to see the impact that has been made in local communities. We’ve seen many projects come to fruition, a very large amount of grant opportunities be awarded to communities. And fellows often go on to either stay in their community because a role has been created for them, or they go to another community to become the city manager. Or they work at a nonprofit that focuses on community and economic development. So we have plenty of those personal stories from fellows, making an impact in their community and then going on to stay in the field and stay in Michigan. Which is another really important goal. We want to add to the pipeline of folks that are working in Michigan communities and making development possible.”

Applications are available now and are open to Michigan residents. For details on the fellowship, Click Here.

All positions are full-time starting May 15, 2023 and ending August 15, 2024.

Fellows receive:

$45,000 salary

Employer-paid health, vision, and dental benefits

20 Days PTO

State of Michigan observed holidays

Reimbursement for state travel

Professional Development and networking opportunities