Data That We Track, June 2019



Communities We Serve


Latest Data Trends Indicate…….

  • Spring and summer in Michigan bring a wave of seasonal employees, resulting in lower jobless rates in April in all but four rural counties with some dramatic drops in places like Mackinac and Cheboygan counties.
  • Poverty rates lowered in 61 of 78 counties listed. However, 38 counties (49%) have poverty rates that remain higher than their State’s average rate. 


How Northern Initiatives Fared


Through the end of the month of May, we had closed 36 loans.  Chippewa County was leading the way with 5 closed loans in 2019, while Marquette had 4.  Calhoun, Dickinson, Kent, Menominee, Muskegon, and St. Joseph each had two loans closed.


Monthly Musings from President, Dennis West


Catalyzing Opportunities in Rural America

I recently attended the Rural Local Initiatives Support Corporation’s Annual Meeting in Monticello, New York.  Northern Initiatives has been a Rural LISC Partner for 22 years.  LISC secures money primarily through the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Section 4 Program to support work with their partners on capacity building. The value of this capacity building support is enormous as it allows our staff to do their jobs more effectively.  Most recently we used this support to re-write our loan policy. The new policy is indexed and more concise. 

These capacity building opportunities are important because to work on relationships with customers first you have to be consistently good in doing their transactions. Interest in having a relationship can be undermined by the inability to close a loan properly, perfect collateral or even to be reasonable and clear about expectations. 

Every year we spend time with our Congressional delegation sharing with them the value of this LISC capacity building program because continuous improvement requires analyzing areas for improvement.  Over the years the ability to make process and quality gains can be traced to this invaluable partnership.


Money and Know How


“Money is obviously a big part of starting a business, so we really appreciated Northern Initiatives’ help in that area. They also provided training in Quickbooks and helped us market the brewery by creating a website.  Northern Initiatives has online instructions and other resources that made it easy to accomplish all of that.”

– Jeff Brickey, 51st State Brewing Co.






Jeff Brickey’s retirement hobby of home brewing escalated over several years to the point he was crafting more quantities than he could reasonably consume or share.  He decided the only way to avoid waste and satisfy his increasing urge to dabble in more styles of beer was to start his own brewery. 

With Northern Initiatives help, Jeff Brickey has turned his basement home-brewing hobby into a thriving family-run business. Since it’s 2018 launch, 51st State Brewing Co. in Kingsford has been turning out quality signature and seasonal craft beers, along with hand-tossed, wood-fired pizzas.  Read the full customer story here. 


Supporter Spotlight


Northern Initiatives has partnered with the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center for over 20 years to serve manufacturing businesses in the Upper Peninsula. Each year, NI receives funding from MMTC to provide personalized consulting services that allow manufacturers to operate smarter, leaner, compete and grow.











Northern Initiatives’ manufacturing services focus on helping small manufacturers generate business results.  Our services including Lean, ISO 9001, and various training opportunities position Upper Peninsula manufacturers to thrive in today’s technology-driven economy.



Lake Shore Systemsa designer and manufacturer of complex heavy machinery for maritime and mining applications, has partnered with Northern Initiatives to strengthen their operations in a complex environment.  Read more about how we are helping Lake Shore Systems here.



Join us today to help another small business start or grow.



Donate Today




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