The August numbers showed the reaches of seasonal employment into Northern Michigan. Five of the 51 counties in our service area had rising jobless rates, one county remained the same, and 46 counties lowered during the month. The other side of that coin is that while jobless rates primarily fell throughout our market area, only five counties across Michigan and Wisconsin had jobless rates lower than their respective state’s overall jobless rate.
The much awaited 1,000th loan closed the day after Labor Day, so we will share that story in our next blog post.
However, some big things did happen in August. We made an offer to Melissa Marietti-Evans of Muskegon to extend our lending program in West Michigan. We also closed on a $4.5M Line of Credit through Huntington National Bank and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. This gives us lendable capital to support our growth over the next few years.
We just saw some data through the MMTC that shows there are 83 manufacturers in the U.P. that employ 20-250 people. We have done work with one third of them over the past three years. What that data also tells us is that most of our manufacturers employ fewer than 20 people. The dominant manufacturing counties in the U.P. are Chippewa, Delta, Dickinson, Marquette and Menominee. Our ability to offer loans and business services helps greatly in reaching this smaller cohort.
Our work to help support and grow manufacturers was recently aided by a grant from the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development through funding derived from the ore tax on the Eagle Mine in Marquette.
With assistance from Kurt Peterson, founder of Total Enterprise Consulting and Coaching, LLC, we have been using those funds to discount the costs of “lean assessments” to help manufacturers evaluate their overall operations or a process within a company. The assessments are offering a road map to companies to reduce costs, gain efficiencies, and improve profits. Our intention is to complete 15 and so far, they have been popular and effective. One example was a process recommendation that has helped to boost revenue by $5,000 per month.
The lesson for everyone is if your company is to grow, great processes and systems are paramount. And it is the simple improvements that mean so much to retain and add jobs. We look forward to sharing some great stories and impacts from this work.
And don’t forget…
You can support our work!
The micro loan programs require that we contribute local match. Match is something that everyone can help support. Help us get on our way to our next 500 microloans, meet our match requirements and support growing numbers of small businesses. Please go to our Donate page, www.northerninitiatives.org/donate to contribute. Thanks!