Not unexpected for rural Michigan, winter brings seasonal adjustments and they are almost always upward with respect to joblessness. Two of our 51 counties saw a decrease in joblessness rates, while the remaining 49 counties increased. The counties with the largest manufacturing bases appeared to go up the least, while counties with big seasonality swings saw those swings move with full force.
It was a great year, as reflected in the performance table below. Now that we’ve reached the end of January, we are on track to once again improve upon January’s performance from one year ago.
A look at operations inside of Jacquart Fabric Products in Ironwood, Michigan.
A unique attribute to Northern Initiatives is that we are the only Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) that is also part of the Manufacturing Extension Partnership, which is affiliated with the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center (MMTC). As MMTC-UP, we offer direct services to small- and medium-sized manufacturers to connect them with the best manufacturing practices and technologies available. What follows are a few reflections on how this uniqueness has played out to the benefit of Upper Peninsula businesses.
At one point, a manufacturer asked NI to make a loan for a plant expansion. Prior to considering that loan, the loan officer asked the business to also consider an organizational assessment. The upshot was that by improving workflow and scrapping old machinery, there was no need for the addition; in fact, the manufacturer reorganized its production space and found there was still room for growth. The result was a $300,000 capital outlay plan that, once implemented, improved flow and increased profits.
In another example, a manufacturer sought a working capital loan from NI. After assisting the company in analyzing its financials, we helped them to understand that every day the company reduced its receivables, it saved $30,000 in cash. By taking this action, the company realized a loan was not necessary.
In a third example, a company came to NI for equipment financing and it was revealed their scrap rate was almost 10%, where their peer’s was under 2%. The initiation of a quality program increased the company’s profitability by $10,000 per month.
Finally, a manufacturer came to us looking for working capital. We assisted the manufacturer in reducing inventory and creating a Just in Time inventory reduction system. This freed up warehouse space, opening the doors for another start-up company to move in.
These are all stories about our approach as a mission-based lender, where sometimes the loan we don’t make is the most important service we can offer a business. When the business finds a path to greater profits, everyone wins. Our victory is two-fold – in all of these stories, jobs were created and we partnered in helping a community thrive – both central pillars of our mission.
We would also like to thank those who financially supported Northern Initiatives. Our donors listed below help us to help more businesses launch and grow. We invite you to join them. Give a gift today.