We added six counties to our target market. When you look at the September data, we are now looking at data for 52 Michigan counties and five border counties in Wisconsin. It shows that jobless rates increased in only one county, stayed the same in two counties and decreased in the rest. Schools re-opening at the tail end of the summer season contributed positively. While Michigan’s overall jobless rate went up, the areas we target overwhelmingly went down.
We surpassed 1,000 loans when we closed a loan to Drone Services of Kalkaska, Michigan during the first week in September. They have been flying drones in support of pipeline inspections and have recently added pilots, so we are excited to be a part of helping this business to start and grow.
We have a commercial lender in Muskegon, Melissa Marietti-Evans, and shortly we will be looking for offices and making staff additions to more fully serve the West Michigan market. We will be looking to add a second lender, a commercial loan assistant, a business coach and possibly a credit analyst for this market.
Food factors into a lot of our loans. Food is also one of the guilty pleasures of our job, particularly in visiting our customers. During a stop in Sault Ste. Marie last month, NI President Dennis West recalls having dinner at Karl’s Cuisine – where he enjoyed their seasonal pumpkin soup. As mentioned, guilty pleasure.
In fact, in one month, West says he enjoyed Roz’s Diner, Four Leaf Brewery, the Zephyr, Lockside, the Delft, Café Bodega, Paddle Hard Brewing and past customers the Marq and Border Grill. As someone who likes to cook, these places inspire him with their flavors, and in many cases their focus on using local products.
Northern Initiatives is also working with the Michigan Good Food Fund and offering loans throughout Michigan for the growth and expansion of access to healthy and natural foods. A recent project called Feast in Inkster, Mich., near Detroit has a connection to Detroit’s Eastern Market. “Feast is a first step in Eastern Market Corp.’s program to accelerate food business in Michigan and will fill the current void that exists for food entrepreneurs looking to ramp up production and move their business to the next stage,” Mike DiBernardo, director of food innovation programs for Eastern Market Corp., said in a news release. Feast is a shared food processing and packaging facility, currently the home to three food entrepreneurs. Two additional food processing businesses with whom we have recently closed loans are Crazy Joe’s Salsa in Baraga and Red’z BBQ Marinade out of Marquette.
If you like food, cooking or eating, you have to love our portfolio.
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!