Banner Image

Tuesday, October 1, 2013


This is my last blog post as City Manager for the City of Rogers City.  I will be moving to the City of Ishpeming to take up duties as their City Manager. 

I depart with the certain knowledge that Rogers City has a bright future.  There are many strong and talented leaders in City Council, City staff, and the local business community.  I urge them to work together to find a common purpose and make the bright future a reality.

The City's financial health is solid; although, some threats to revenue remain, such as the possible loss of the mislabled "personal property tax."

Much of the City's key facilities and infrastructure are new or recently rennovated.  Attention is being paid to the details of the streetscape and walkability.  Policy makers have decided that investment in continued infrastructure improvement will continue.

Work needs to be done to improve the condition of the City's streets, but funding for this need is lacking.  While this problem is felt locally, it is not a local problem.  The City does not have the legal ability to raise sufficent funding on its own.  Finding sufficient dollars for street repair requires a state and/or national level changes in transportation tax policy.

The Rogers City housing stock is sound and offers a variety of cost options. The vast majority of property owners keep there property very clean and appealing.  It is a pretty city on the "North Coast."  Currently, land here is an undervalued resource that will soon become properly valued.

There are many and wonderful recreational opportunities here, including (just to name a few): the Marina, the Huron Sunrise Trail, a dozen City Parks, great sandy beaches for swimming and others for rock/fossil hunting.  Nearby, two wonderful State Parks: Hoeft and Thompson Harbor offer great and unique natural recreational opportunities.  The Herman Vogler Conservation area is a jewel.

The City's art and culture are alive in several great venues: the Rogers City Theater, showing both live and first run Hollywood movies; the Great Lakes Lore Maritime Museum, the Presque Isle Historically Museum, the Chamber of Commerce Summer Concert Series, and the Rogers City Band whicj performs year round at various locations.  Several new and wonderful art pieces adorn Rogers City thanks to the strong love of art in our community.

The airport offers new fueling services for transportation and recreational flying.

Promotional efforts, such as the US-23 Heritage Route and Pure Michigan campaign, have paid off--more traffic is visiting Rogers City than ever before.

In short, Rogers City has a bright future.

It has been my honor to serve the great people of this excellent community. I wish you well.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Community Benefit of Social Media/Internet

Here is some great information from Rachel Goodstein:
Checking the internet for coverage of our kickstarter campaign I came upon several references  in sources I knew about e.g. The Advance, but I am sending this on to all of you because it illustrates how the internet and social media expand communication. 


A woman who blogs and tweets about movies happened to camp at Hoeft State Park during her recent vacation. Here is the link to her post with the archival photos she included and I have copied just  the text below the link. 





Help save a historic theater!

Kickstarter projects have been all the rage lately, with mixed reception from the internettin’ public. Kickstarters linked with the entertainment industry have received a particularly large amount of flack — “Why are rich actors asking for money when they’ve got enough in their bank accounts to fund multiple films?”


Regardless of where you stand on the issue of movie biz crowd-funding, you must admit that every once in a while a very worthy project comes along. While traveling, I stumbled upon one such project.


One of the cities closest to our campground was Rogers City, Michigan. It’s a beautiful place, situated directly on the Lake Huron shoreline. It is possibly most famous for its connection to one of the Great Lakes’ infamous shipwrecks, the loss of the Carl D. Bradley. (Sidenote: There is a fantastic documentary, November Requiem, about the Bradley’s sinking and the aftermath in Rogers City. Even better, if you ever find yourself in Rogers City, visit the Great Lakes Lore Maritime Museum. This museum is home to the Carl D. Bradley’s bell, which was recovered from the wreckage and replaced with a bell engraved with the names of those who lost their lives.) On a lighter note, Rogers City also home to the world’s largest limestone quarry!


While exploring Rogers City I fell in love with their single-screen movie theater. We didn’t catch any films there — there were none showing last week, as the stage was being used for a community theater production — but it also doubles as an ice cream shop (which I made great use of) and a bicycle rental shop!


The Rogers City Theater has been in continuous operation since 1937, and it’s really the only place to see first-run movies in the Rogers City area. A passionate and dedicated owner has put a whole lot of time and money into renovating the theater, restoring some of its original decor, keeping up with building repairs and installing the technology required for the theater to serve not just as a movie house, but as a venue for concerts and stage productions as well.


I love historic theaters and like to give as much support as possible to the wonderful people who make sure that theaters like this stay open. Unfortunately, the dream of preserving Rogers City’s gem of a theater can’t stay alive much longer without the public’s help. With Hollywood continuing to transition to exclusively digital distribution of new releases, the Rogers Theater’s projection equipment is becoming obsolete.


…And that’s where your help (and cash) comes in! The Rogers City Theater’s Kickstarter project has 30 days left. They’re trying to raise $100,000 and so far have raised a little over $60,000 of that, so they’re more than half-way to the finish line! If the $100,00 goal is exceeded, the rest of the money will be used to bring more updates to the theater, particularly more comfortable seating. I urge you all to donate to this project and others like it, to keep small, independent theaters alive and well.


To donate to the Rogers City Theater, visit their Kickstarter page. (You’ve already seen this link if you follow me on Twitter, but I can’t share it enough.)

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Main Street Program Can Help!

Here is a posting of note from the President and CEO of the National Main Street Center:
As I'm sure you've heard, the City of Detroit, site of next year's National  Main Streets Conference, filed for Chapter 9 bankruptcy in federal court last Thursday. As headlines across the nation point out, Detroit becomes the largest municipality to ever file for bankruptcy. This filing has major  implications for the future of Detroit and numerous cities around the country facing similar situations.


No doubt you have also seen images on the news of the blight and other challenges facing the city. However, despite this news, we are still looking forward to Detroit hosting our conference next May 18-21. Why?

Simply put, we see bankruptcy as a re-boot of the city's economy-as an opportunity for growth and regeneration, not as a signal to cut and run. No  one knows more about restarting communities than Main Street, with its 30+  year track record of re-energizing communities and a proven strategy for doing so.


We need look no farther than Michigan to see evidence of the Main Street Approach's success. With three Great American Main Street Award winners in the last four years and a track record of stimulating more than $674 million in private investment and nearly 8,000 new jobs, Michigan offers abundant examples of civic leaders, citizens, and business owners overcoming the obstacles to downtown revitalization, capitalizing on their advantages, and preserving their heritage.


The National Main Streets Conference is a golden opportunity, much in the way our 2006 annual conference in post-Katrina New Orleans was, to bring the best Main Street has to bear on a city very much in transition. We will  not only be coming with our toolbox of best practices and time-tested solutions, but with an open mind as well, eager to learn from Detroit as a laboratory for fresh ideas, including the use of art and culture to drive regeneration, urban farming on vacant land, pop-ups in empty buildings, and  entrepreneurism of all kinds.


As Main Streeters, we see Detroit's challenges as opportunities and are inspired by the many talented people working together to make Detroit and Michigan a better place. Come see their innovative work for yourself, and lend your expertise and support to the Motor City.


Warm Regards,


Patrice Frey,

President & CEO, National Main Street Center, Inc.


Share Your Knowledge


The 2014 National Main Streets

will celebrate, learn from and share ideas to help and empower those that make Main Street work: program managers, entrepreneurs, volunteers, business owners, students, teachers, and artists. Main Streets across the country - from small downtowns to mid-size cities to urban neighborhoods - share similar challenges. Learn more and submit a proposal<http://my.preservationnation.org/site/R?i=LhzJVqf4J2LXHKQtV282aQ>

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

What can Rogers City Learn from China?

Rogers City has a lot to learn from China.  In the article below, wherever you see "Detroit" substitute "Rogers City."  Anyone who knows Rogers City will see a similarity.  This question is adapted from an article (below) by Tom Watkins a reporter for the Detroit News:

The city that put the world on wheels, the Arsenal of Democracy, the Motor City, Detroit, has filed for bankruptcy. A once-proud city is humiliated in the world’s eye.
Detroit can learn from China about how to turn adversity into strength. China suffered through a century of humiliation to a historical rise to preeminence today.
Wei Yuan, a Chinese scholar attempted to combine traditional scholarly knowledge with practical experience to find workable solutions to problems of the day. In his book, Records of the Conquest, Wei writes, “Humiliation stimulates effort; when a country (city) is humiliated, its spirit will be aroused” or “To feel shame is to approach courage.”
With insight and leadership China could play a role in revitalizing a once iconic American city.
We need to pay attention as China returns to a historical position of strength. It must be noted, China had the world’s largest economy — 18 out of the past 20 centuries.
The China-United States Exchange Foundation, a non-government and nonprofit organization based in Hong Kong seeks to foster a strengthened and improved relationship between China and the United States under the leadership of Tung CheeHwa, vice chairman of the 12th National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference and founder and chairman of the foundation, recently released a report: “U.S.-China Economic Relations in the next Ten Years.”
It should be mandatory reading for government and business leaders with an interest in rebuilding Detroit.
The report concludes that Beijing and Washington share the desire to “establish a pattern of secure, high-quality sustainable growth and employment for their people.”
It could be argued in the early days of the normalization of the relations between China and the U.S. that the China bridge was more of a one-way span in China’s favor. That certainly is not true today.
Chinese investment in the U.S. is at an all-time high.
According to the Heritage Foundation, total Chinese investment in the U.S. since 2005 stands at $54 billion, and expected to grow significantly over the next decade.
According to the Asia Society, the Chinese will be seeking overseas investment opportunities from $1-2 trillion over the next decade.
Detroit needs to be aggressive about securing a chunk of this Chinese investment.
Michigan’s business community now includes more than 50 major Chinese companies that have invested more than $1 billion in our state and growing,” recounted Michael A. Finney, president and CEO of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.
As our new immigrant and business-friendly governor, Rick Snyder, who has traveled to China twice as governor with a third trip planned for this fall, likes to say: “Michigan is open for business.” Investment in Detroit ought to be a priority of the governor’s upcoming China trip.
Snyder is seeking foreign direct investment in our state and wants to export our agricultural products, technology know-how and other goods and services around the globe.
As the report, “U.S.-China Economic relations in the next ten years,” spells out, over the course of the next decade this important economic relationship has the potential to create enormous economic opportunities and millions of jobs, as well as public good, globally.
Chinese Consul General Zhao Weiping, based in Chicago, recently said, “Michigan has many ingredients: Economic, social, cultural and educational that make it attractive to Chinese investors, and I suspect as the relationship matures, the investments and job creation will only continue to grow.”
John McElory, a global auto expert and president of Blue Sky Productions, understands Detroit is a fountain of opportunity for Chinese investors: “The Chinese are coming to Michigan because when they look around they don’t see shuttered factories, they see nothing but opportunity.”
Detroit can rise like a phoenix from the ashes of humiliation.
Remember, “To feel shame is to approach courage.”
Tom Watkins is a U.S./China business and educational consultant.

From The Detroit News: http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20130724/OPINION01/307240001#ixzz2ZzQO09tn