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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Detroit News Report on Health Exchanges

Here is a very important article.  It demonstrates that efficient and reasonable compromise is possible in partisan government.  Speaking as a local government administrator, who is ethically bound to an efficent and non-partisan approach to government at the local level, I hope and pray that our two parties will rise to the call of statesmanship and govern this State and the Nation in a spirit of cooperation and compromise. 


Gov. Snyder rightly embraces health exchange

Snyder bucks Legislature, provides coverage information

Snyder )
In deciding to go forward with state-federal partnership for setting up medical insurance exchanges mandated under the 2010 Affordable Care Act, Gov. Rick Snyder is acting in the best interests of Michigan citizens. There is, in fact, no other choice. With the deadline approaching, an intransigent House Republican majority has blocked legislation and federal funding for his proposed website where uninsured Michiganians could have shopped for health care coverage.
Snyder had envisioned a setup similar to Travelocity.com, where travelers can book hotel, airline and rental car reservations. He argued that would be an easy way to satisfy the Obamacare mandate without breaking the bank or subjecting the state to what probably would be a more onerous set of federal criteria, should Michigan fail to have its health exchange under way by Nov. 16. A $9.8 million federal planning grant would cover most or all of the cost.
There's a lot to be done before the deadline hits, and possibly too little time already. With no state action on setting them up, Michigan would lose control of its destiny; the feds would be required to step in with their own version of health exchanges for us.
The state Senate, also dominated by Republicans, saw the wisdom in Snyder's approach and approved enabling legislation in November 2011. Then House majority leaders, strongly opposed to the federal act, got tied up in ideological knots. They first decided to take no action on the Senate measure until the U.S. Supreme Court had ruled on an anti-Obamacare lawsuit by several state attorneys general, including Michigan's Bill Schuette.
After the high court's July finding — that the law is constitutional for the most part — they decided still more hearings were needed before they could act on the governor's proposal.
Now, with Labor Day fast approaching, Snyder has come to the realization the House has sentenced his plan to death by a thousand questions. House leaders also have rejected the governor's request that they approve a federal planning grant available to Michigan for the exchanges. Following political advice from Schuette, House members clearly are banking on the long-shot hope Mitt Romney will replace Barack Obama as president, Republicans will gain control of the U.S. Senate and Obamacare will be overturned.
We agree with their objection to the overreach and dictates of the federal health care act, especially the mandate for uninsured folks to buy health coverage or face a federal income tax penalty that theoretically would help offset costs of the free care hospitals are obligated to provide those who need treatment but can't pay. Unfortunately, the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld nearly all of the act.
That makes Snyder's pragmatic middle-of-the road plan the best medicine for this state. Health insurance is complicated. Shopping for it is hindered by limited competition here in Michigan. There's value in an online site where customers could sort among what should be a broader array of plans for coverage that best suits their budgets and medical needs. As Snyder says, this is a good idea irrespective of the federal health law. If Obamacare were abolished and/or it turned out the website was little used, the state could take it back down with little muss or fuss.
It's too bad House members couldn't see their way to the adoption of such a plan. There now is likely to be a lot more federal involvement in the setting up of Michigan's health insurance exchanges. Snyder's intriguingly uncomplicated approach might be in jeopardy. But he's smart to partner with the feds and hold on to as much state control over the outcome as is possible under these less-than-ideal circumstances.

From The Detroit News: http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20120827/OPINION01/208270304#ixzz24qIXu4L8

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Money Magazine's Top Places to Live

I feel that Money Magaizine missed the boat, leaving Rogers City off the list.  I know, I'm biased. 

In fairness, it is not suprising since all of the places listed are  much larger communities.  Rogers City is a special place--a "small" city with under 3,000 year-round residents on beautiful Lake Huron.  We may be "off the radar" for Money Magazine and many others, but many people do love this community.  Rogers City is a fantastic place to live.

Of equal importance, Rogers City continues working to improve.  Visit and find out for yourself. 

Here is the report from MEDC on the Money Magazine article: 

Five Michigan towns named Money Magazine’s best places to live

Troy, West Bloomfield Township, Shelby Township, Macomb Township and Ann Arbor are among the top 100 small cities in America according to Money Magazine’s list of best places to live.

“This special recognition is a testament to the excellent leadership and vision of the elected officials, businesses and residents in each of these towns,” Michigan Economic Development Corporation President and CEO Michael A. Finney said. “We are working with our partners in every region of the state to help create vibrant communities where businesses, workers, families and visitors can all share in a strong sense of place.”

As Melissa Anders of MLive noted, Michigan was one of seven states with five towns on the list. No other state had more. Troy was ranked 26, West Bloomfield Township 37, Shelby Township 78, Macomb Township 84, and Ann Arbor 100.

According to the magazine:

Troy – Like many places near Detroit, Troy suffered during the recession, but good times seem to be back. Auto companies' profits are rising and formerly vacant office space in Troy is filling up. Housing in the area is a bargain: The median home price is just $166,000, and property taxes are ultralow. That's a pretty good deal for a city that's been rated the safest in Michigan for 10 of the past 14 years, has great schools and the best community sports program in the state. Photo courtesy of Troy.

West Bloomfield Twp. – Long a popular choice for those who work in the Detroit area, West Bloomfield boasts affordable housing (the average house costs just under $200,000), good schools, and sterling health care thanks to the high-end Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital. The city's downtown area is small but chic, with many luxury boutiques and restaurants. Those in search of more vibrant nightlife hop over to nearby Royal Oak or make the slightly longer drive to Detroit. Photo courtesy of Oakland Hills Country Club.  
West Bloomfield

Shelby Twp. – Shelby is 45 minutes from Detroit but feels worlds away. The community has a rural feel, with open spaces, well-rated schools, safe streets, and bucolic parks. At 9.8%, however, the area unemployment rate is higher than the average. In June there was a major fire in the small downtown, which destroyed three historic buildings and several local businesses. Photo courtesy of Eric Rard/Shelby TV.
Shelby Twp

Macomb Twp. – Macomb locals can boast of their town's fiscal strength: With more than $29 million set aside for a rainy day, Macomb Township is the most financially solvent city in the state. Low property taxes and a median home price of $185,000 help explain why this city is Michigan's fastest-growing major municipality. Since most of the population commutes to Detroit, Macomb doesn't have a downtown, but it does have lots of parks, outdoor community centers, and sports courts. Photo courtesy of Macomb Twp.

Ann Arbor – Cheering a Big 10 football game along with thousands of other fans is a major rush, but what really powers this college town is job opportunities. Though the city has lost several large employers like Pfizer and Borders, it has attracted many others – cybersecurity firm Barracuda Networks and hospitality giant Hyatt recently opened offices here. Families generally avoid the student-filled homes near campus, opting for the quieter west and north sides of town. Photo courtesy of Ann Arbor.  
Ann Arbor

Governor Rick Snyder Visits Rogers City

Here is a story from alpenanow.com about the Governor's recent visit to Rogers City.  During the visit the Governor agreed to assist Rogers City and to help to solve the high unemployment problem that has plagued Presque Isle County for years.  Speaking in a non-partisan manner, I appreciate the Governor's approach to "relentless positive action" to help solve the problems in Michigan.  I believe in the same approach for our local city government.  I know our Mayor and City Council feel the same way too.  We want to make this community the best it can be. 

Gov. Snyder visits Rogers City & Alpena

Submitted by Phil Heimerl on August 21, 2012 – 2:54 am
Michigan Governor Rick Snyder began his day in Rogers City Monday, talking with business and community leaders about issues important to his “Reinvent Michigan” campaign.
Snyder also answered questions from the audience on a wide range of topics including education, the possibility of another bridge to Canada, invasive species in the Great Lakes and Presque Isle County’s number one business – agriculture.
Snyder told True North Radio he believes a new bridge to Canada should be built to expand trade, the highly successful “Pure Michigan” advertising campaign will continue and the roll of his administration should be as problem solvers.
“We are in the customer service business and we have to keep that going”, said Snyder. He went on to say he would like to see the private sector more involved in training people for skilled trade positions.
The Governor’s Sunrise Side swing included an afternoon stop in Alpena for a town hall style meeting at Alpena Community College where he spoke more about his “Reinvent Michigan” campaign.
Rogers City Mayor Beach Hall (right) presents Governor Rick Snyder with a welcome gift Monday morning.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Connecting Entrepreneurial Communities Conference

Here is an important announcement from MSU:

Upcoming “Connecting Entrepreneurial Communities” Conference for volunteers, businesses, community, education and government partners and all important contacts you might work with.  The conference will be held in beautiful downtown Petoskey, on October 9th just in time for the peak fall colors!

This conference is an excellent professional development and networking opportunity for those who want to learn more about entrepreneurship and community development. Another great benefit of this conference will be the chance to interact and build stronger collaborations with our colleagues from the Greening Michigan Institute.

As change agents, this conference is ideal for local teams of people interested in entrepreneurship and developing community economic success. In addition to keynote speakers, there will be over 20 breakout sessions on a wide-range of topics, such as developing a youth business expo, resources for teaching youth entrepreneurship, cultivating cultural entrepreneurs, capitalizing on the local foods movement, food as a destination--culinary entrepreneurs, converting to green collar entrepreneurs and so much more!!! Our goal is to have 100 communities and community teams participate. Consider bringing a local team and joining us on October 9th  in advancing and sustaining our community’s prosperity, here in “Pure Michigan.” 

Conference registration forms will be released soon!!

Kathy Jamieson, Extension Educator
Institute of Children and Youth and Greening Michigan Institute
Career and Workforce Preparation and Sustaining Community Prosperity
Macomb MSU Extension
21885 Dunham Suite 12
Clinton Township, MI  48036
Phone: 586-469-6431
Fax: 586-469-6948
email: jamies13@anr.msu.edu

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Forbes Magazine on Best Small Cities

Below is a selection from an article by Francesca Levy in Forbes Magazine.  This article is great, except it misses a lot of great small cities, like Rogers City.  Many of the points raised about Marquette and other cities listed are also true for Rogers City.  Rogers City is a great place to live.  But, don't trust my words.  Visit us and find out for yourself.  For more information go to www.rogerscity.com  

The Best Small Cities To Raise A Family

Francesca Levy,10.25.10, 04:50 PM EDT

Midwestern cities sweep our ranking of quiet, prosperous and family-friendly places.

Big, bustling cities are magnets for adventure-seekers and ambitious young people. But the grit and flashiness that attract singles to New York, Los Angeles and Miami aren't necessarily what parents look for in a place to settle down. Young people looking to start a family might do well to look past the bright lights of the big city.
Instead, maybe consider a place like Dubuque, Iowa, Manitowoc, Wis., or Marquette, Mich. These places boast solid average incomes, good educational prospects, low costs, short commute times and high rates of home ownership--all reasons why they rank as the top three small cities in America to raise a family.

So what is so special about these places? Our top-ranked city, Dubuque, Iowa, is much smaller than a place like New York, with a population of 92,139, but still one of the larger cities on our list (we only ranked cities with a population under 100,000). Dubuque's size puts it in a kind of sweet spot: large enough to be a center of industry, small enough to not be overcrowded. An economy that successfully diversified after the collapse of the local manufacturing industry contributes to an unemployment rate that's nearly half the national average, at 6.5%, and a median household income of $48,779. That means most families have the jobs they need. They also don't have to spend a lot of time getting there: Only 2.6% of the population spends an hour or more getting to work.
Our top three cities are all in the Midwest, and the region is home to 12 of the top 15 cities. It would seem that mountains, big skies and open plains lend themselves to family life. But while the small towns in Michigan, Indiana, Wisconsin, Iowa, North Dakota and Illinois dominate the list, there are small cities that shine in every region of the country.
The rugged mountain town of Casper, Wyo, is the highest-ranked family-friendly small city in the West, and ranked eighth overall in the nation. The city does particularly well providing residents with affordable housing--families there spend only 17% of their income on housing costs.
Auburn, N.Y., a tiny Finger Lakes town probably best known for its correctional facility, takes the top spot for the Northeast region, and comes in at No. 18 in the nation. Prison jobs boost the local income, which ranks 20th among small cities at $48,991.
The best Southern small city for families? Tiny Frankfort, Ky., with a population of only 69,659. It ranks No. 20 on our nationwide list. Frankfort may be small, but the few families there are well off: The median household income is $50,671.
To pinpoint the best small places to raise a family, we looked at quality-of-life measures that make living easier for families. We started with the most recent data available from the U.S. Census Bureau on all Metropolitan and Micropolitan Statistical Areas with a population under 100,000. That left us with 126 cities, which we ranked on five measures.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Michigan has Many Great Places to Live, like Rogers City

Here is an article from MEDC about how Michigan Cities are great places to live.  Of course, we know it, but it is nice to see in print.  Rogers city is not specifically mentioned in this piece, but somehow, I feel it should be included.  Not that we have all the ammenities of Marquette or Ann Arbor, but we are very special and wonderful in our own right--Rogers City is a great place to live.

From Marquette to Detroit, MI cities are earning accolades

Whether it’s high quality of life for families or the best place to stretch a paycheck, Michigan cities are receiving national recognition for the amenities people seek when choosing a place to call home. 

Marquette lighthouse

Marquette, according to Forbes, is the third best small city in America to raise a family; Midland is fourth. The cities were chosen based on a number of quality of life measures that make living easier for families, such as average incomes, educational prospects, cost of living, commute times and homeownership rates.  Worth noting: 12 of the top 15 cities on the list are in the Midwest.

Ann Arbor has been in the spotlight recently too. Parenting magazine reports that Ann Arbor is the 10th best city in the country for education, citing the University of Michigan, a uniquely diverse school system, a high number of accredited day care providers and a superior graduation rate as evidence.

For those students who decide to make Ann Arbor their home after graduation, they probably will find work fairly easily – according to the Detroit Free Press, Ann Arbor is a job seekers’ market, with the lowest unemployment rate in the state (6.2 percent) and a thriving economy.

Another Forbes study revealed that Detroit is one of the best areas in the country to live and work based on cost of living measures. In “The Cities Where a Paycheck Stretches the Furthest,” Forbes cites Detroit’s resurgent auto industry, huge surge in STEM jobs and affordable housing as reasons it placed Detroit third on the list.

Overall, Michigan is leading the country in economic recovery, according to the Detroit News. The dropping unemployment rate, upswing in home sales and increase in consumer spending are all evidence of a positive outlook for the Great Lakes state. 

Monday, August 6, 2012

Boat Repair Job Opportunity

Below is an article about boat repair as a business.  Rogers City's public marina has seen a real jump in traffic so far this year.  We need a local mechanic to repair visiting boats that experience mechanical failure.  This is a great opportunity for any one with talent who is looking for work in a great location.  If you are interested, please contact Roger Wenzel, Harbor Master, or myself at 989-734-2191 or mslown@rogerscity.com
Here is the article from the Detroit Free Press:
August 2, 2012 at 10:57 am

Business insider: Boat repair positions still going unfilled

Dave Unger, co-owner of Detroit's Custom Enterprise boat repair shop, is still having trouble getting applicants to return calls for work, four months after a Detroit News story highlighted the problem. Even as Michigan's unemployment rate increased two-tenths of a point to 8.6 percent.
After the April 3 story was published, the shop was able to hire three employees who soon left, leaving a backlog of repair work, Unger said. The culprit: the lure of unemployment assistance or food stamps, he said.
Now Unger said he has five positions open — a yard worker, an upholsterer, a Fiberglas hull repairer, a marine transport driver and a marine mechanic — earning from $9 to $20 an hour, depending on experience.
Unger had applicants with extensive mechanic experience fail to return calls in the spring when he offered $32 an hour.
But he can't get callbacks now either, though people on unemployment are supposed to make good-faith efforts to find work.
He tries to get by doing what work he can himself.
"I turn down more work than I'm getting," Unger said Wednesday, adding that he is missing out on an uptick in repair business that is occurring now during a usually dormant period of the summer. "I'm just pulling my hair out."
Unger's conclusion: "I'm competing against the government" — and losing.

Contributors: Melissa Burden, Joanna Firestone and Richard Burr.

From The Detroit News: http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20120802/BIZ/208020347#ixzz22mGqTRyW

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Michigan Economic Outlook

Here is an article fro the Detroit Free Press that confirms the positive economic outlook that we see in Rogers City.

Poll finds Michiganders upbeat about state's economic outlook

6:25 PM, July 31, 2012 | 

With the auto industry recovering and state unemployment down sharply from a few years ago, Michiganders appear to hold a modestly upbeat outlook on the economy, a new poll shows.
The latest results from an EPIC-MRA poll released to the Free Press and four television stations found that 33% of state residents reported their personal financial situation was somewhat good or very good, while only 15% said it was somewhat bad or very bad. Another 51% said it was somewhere in the middle.
At the same time, 53% of poll respondents agreed that Michigan’s economy had already bottomed out and was starting to improve. Only 17% said they expected the state’s economy to decline more in the near future.
The poll of 600 likely voters was taken July 24-31 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.
Those glass-half-full responses may stem from a belief that Michigan’s economy has been recovering faster from the Great Recession than the nation’s economy as a whole. In response to a poll question, 44% of Michiganders said they believed the state was moving in the right direction, compared with only 31% who said the country was on the right track.
Those responses show many Michiganders now believe what economists have been saying for a time — that the state has been rebounding faster. The state’s unemployment rate dropped from a high of 14.2% in the summer of 2009 to nearly 8% earlier this year, although it has ticked up somewhat lately to 8.6% in June.
Recent news from the automotive front is bolstering the notion of a Michigan recovery. Chrysler Group reported this week it posted a $436-million profit during the second quarter, a 218% increase over the same quarter last year.
Charles Ballard, a professor of economics at Michigan State University, said the reasons for the more-optimistic outlook boil down to a better employment outlook.
“The biggest (reason) I’m pretty sure is the improvement in the jobs picture,” he said Tuesday. “It was crummy for a long time and then it was really awful for a couple of years, and the turnaround started about 2 1/2 years ago in terms of employment. There was one stretch where we had 19 months in a row where the unemployment rate dropped every month in a row. That’s good news.”
Consumers sense that the state’s employers are on surer footing today, he added.
“There’s no way to look at the numbers and say this is not an improving economy,” he said. “I think it’s beginning to sink in.”