SEDP President/CEO Justin Horvath spoke to approximately 60 business and community leaders during the annual meeting at McClintock Park in Laingsburg.
SEDP introduced a new 5-year strategic plan going forward, following the pandemic.
(Independent Photo/Karen Mead-Elford)
The Shiawassee Economic Development Partnership’s annual meeting took place in the spacious pavilion in Laingsburg’s McClintock Park on Wednesday, June 23. Rainy weather did not prevent a crowd of business and community leaders from throughout the area from attending the event.
The meeting was going to be held at the new amphitheater, but with the inclement weather, it was shifted to beneath the pavilion, which still offered a direct view of the amphitheater – all located within the park.
The Laingsburg Dairy Den was on hand to provide summer treats to attendees, as well.
SEDP President/CEO Justin Horvath offered his appreciation to all of the partners and stakeholders involved in the economic group. He was pleased to see roughly double in attendance in 2021 compared to the same event last year during the pandemic.
“It’s real nice to see everybody and be able to network again, to talk to each other and really, today, to share with you what we have been working on over the past year,” Horvath said.
Horvath mentioned the proven economic resiliency demonstrated in the county through the pandemic months. “We all know it happened. We don’t need to rehash that,” he offered, explaining that the resiliency in the county had been incredible, with most businesses “able to innovate and find ways to survive, so we really did not lose many businesses during the pandemic.” He offered that roughly 1,500 jobs are now available in the county and numerous businesses are eager to hire, sharing that SEDP will be there to help with hiring, the real estate shortage and related issues.
“I’m very honored and pleased to have your support, to have your partnership, to have your collaboration because economic development is not SEDP,” he said. “SEDP is part of a team.” Horvath credited the economic teamwork between various organizations and businesses in the area.
In a video presentation, Horvath and Shiawassee County Health Department Director Larry Johnson talked about the significance of the ongoing COVID-19 vaccination undertaking, with SEDP being one of the integral parts of that process. Johnson shared he had been in communication with Horvath since the start of the pandemic, describing it as a unique relationship in distributing necessary state communications. “It was essential that we work together,” Johnson said about assisting businesses with reopening plans – disseminating information for business owners so they could develop plans to reopen while still meeting guidelines. “We’re very fortunate to have the SEDP here working closely with public health,” he offered.
Also in the video, Horvath detailed how SEDP had worked with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation in distributing millions in grant funding to hundreds of county small businesses – and also teamed with the United Way and YMCA to help people facing food insecurity.
Crest Marine President Patrick May was honored with the SEDP Project of the Year award, presented to him by award sponsor Consumers Energy. Crest Marine, located in Owosso Charter Township, has seen substantial growth in recent years, almost continuously adding new employees and now working to build a 25,000-square-foot warehouse following a groundbreaking held just last December.
Along with the SEDP Project of the Year award, May received special recognition certificates and/or plaques from U.S. Sen. Gary Peters, U.S. Congressman John Moolenaar and State Rep. Ben Frederick.
May expressed his gratitude to SEDP for helping “us along that path,” talking about the enormous expansion of employees from 34, who were called back to work in 2010, to 400 in 2021.
Brian Marks, owner of the Great Lakes Fusion family of businesses and SEDP board chair, shared, “Crest continues to be a wonderful partner in our community. A few years ago, we were a little nervous when MasterCraft bought out Crest. We often wondered if they were gonna stay. I know Pat and his team were instrumental in making sure that Owosso was the place to stay, so thank you for keeping Crest in our community, very much.”
Crest Marine entered into a purchase agreement with MasterCraft in 2018. Part of that agreement included keeping the name and the facility in Owosso Charter Township.
Marks also introduced the new SEDP strategic plan, recognizing the need following the pandemic that the “show must go on and SEDP needs to continue its mission.”
The new 5-year strategic plan will focus on business development, workforce development and real estate development, with an emphasis on diversity. Business development will help existing businesses and also focus on what types of businesses need to be brought in to the area. Workforce development will focus on bringing in new and diverse talent to the area to help with the labor shortage – and along with attracting workforce talent, real estate development becomes a critical component, too.
More information on SEDP is available at sedpweb.org.