by Elizabeth Wehman, editor
THE SHIAWASSEE ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM held its 2015 annual meeting on Thursday, March 3 at the D’Mar Banquet & Conference Center with a record turnout for the event. Many of the top businesses, in Shiawassee County, were in attendance giving a report of the successes from their year of business. (Independent Photo/Elizabeth Wehman)
A record crowd, of 168 guests, turned out for the annual Shiawassee Economic Development Partnership 2015 meeting on Thursday, March 3 at the D’Mar Banquet & Conference Center. Amy Roddy, Chair of the 2015 Board of Directors, began the meeting by expanding on the great things SEDP does for the community by saying, “SEDP has been able to grow as an organization and is excellent at spurring businesses in Shiawassee County.” City of Durand Mayor Deb Doyle led the group with an invocation.
SEDP President/CEO Justin Horvath reported on the excellent year for Shiawassee County’s economy which has steadily improved over the last six years. According to the State of Michigan’s Office of Labor Market Information, Shiawassee County’s unemployment rate currently stands at just over 4.3 percent with over 32,000 residents now working. In January of 2010, the unemployment was at 15.5 percent and just 29,000 residents employed. Horvath added, “This is an 11 percent drop in unemployment and 3,000 new jobs added. We have a lot of good news; we are also excited to tell you what we are doing here in the county.”
More positive news included: 109 business attraction leads, 99 projects with existing Shiawassee County businesses, and 23 announced projects which includes 14 expansions and nine new business starts. This totals approximately 500 new jobs and $25 million of capital investment into the community.
For 2016, SEDP will concentrate on providing local companies with valued services to help them to continue to grow and prosper in the county; strengthen regional, state, national, and international partnerships that help to position Shiawassee County as a global destination for investment; create land and building development opportunities throughout the county to provide more site location options for current and prospective businesses; and to build the talent pipeline that ensures firms have qualified applicants and workforce they need now and in the future.
Those in attendance included businesses who have been a part of many of the 2015 projects for SEDP and included: Wheeler Trucking who received the 2015 Project of the Year; Covenant Eyes who recently added a new call center facility; Great Lakes Fusion, a construction company focused on residential, commercial, industrial, landfill, and pipeline projects; I’m All Ears Popcorn-Hinterman Farms with their new agribusiness; JBS United in Corunna a global leader in animal health and nutrition providing research-based products worldwide to owners and producers of various animal species; Webcor from Durand a manufacturer of corrugated boxes; and SAKOR Technologies which has recently relocated to Owosso Charter Township.
Horvath and many of the businesses in attendance all reiterated the culmination of the SEDP organization by saying, “Shiawassee County is going in the right direction.”