Northern MI business briefs

NLEA Expands Team
Eric Grandstaff, long time area resident and expert in internet and broadband related issues has joined the Northern Lakes Economic Alliance (NLEA) staff team.

Eric will serve as the Broadband Consortium Staff Specialist & Consultant, and in that capacity will serve as the Operating & Fiscal Agent for the newly established NLEA Broadband Consortium (NLEABC).

“We are thrilled to add Eric and his expertise to the NLEA team. This move expands our Business Retention team and will provide additional focus to assisting area companies to acquire high speed broadband internet service,” stated Andy Hayes, President of the NLEA

Eric comes to NLEA with a solid history in broadband development, media, and information sciences.

Previously, he was the North Central Michigan College (NCMC) Associate Dean for Academic and Administrative Technologies for 25 years—overseeing Internet, online learning, academic media, and library online media.

After retiring from NCMC, Grandstaff worked as a Senior Analyst for the University of Michigan and the statewide Merit Network.

Grandstaff was appointed as Merit’s Northern Michigan regional member manager for the development of its 2,600-mile REACH Network.

Eric has also served as a technical consultant on Fiber Optic/broadband development projects for Charlevoix County, Emmet County, and currently consults for the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians.

The mission of the NLEABC is to proliferate gigabit high-speed, reliable and cost-effective broadband services throughout the Northern Lakes Economic Alliance region.

The Northern Lakes Economic Alliance serves as a resource for companies and communities to create and retain jobs throughout Antrim, Charlevoix and Cheboygan Counties, Michigan, USA. For more information, visit

NFIB: Bureaucracy Hurts Business
Today NFIB, the state’s leading small business organization, told lawmakers that proposed legislation to “help” small business would actually hurt hardworking small business owners across Michigan.

The House Commerce and Tourism Committee discussed four bills, HB 4835 through 4838, bills that would create unnecessary bureaucracy in the form of a “small business administrator,” “small business director,” a “small business liaison” in every state department to report to a “small business growth acceleration board.”

“While we applaud the bill sponsors for their sincere intentions to help small business, creating more government and more taxpayer funded salaries and benefits is not the right approach,” said NFIB State Director in Michigan, Charlie Owens. “Maintaining the state’s positive economic environment created over the last eight years is where the governor and lawmakers should continue focusing their attention.”

Owens pointed out the irony of the governor appointing a small business director to “facilitate the creation and retention of small business jobs in the state,” when at the same time she’s hurting small business owners with her proposal to raise their taxes from 4.25% to 6% and create a gas tax of 45 cents per gallon.

“Perhaps one of the first tasks for the new small business director would be to explain to small business owners in Michigan how these tax proposals will facilitate the creation and retention of small business jobs in the state,” said Owens.

Owens also points out that this isn’t a new idea. Adding a “small business czar” has been floated by both political parties over the last two decades.

“Thankfully, it never went anywhere,” said Owens. “These government-created positions will likely end up nothing more than taxpayer supported advocates for the policies of the political party that occupies the governor’s office or controls the legislature.”

As for the idea of “small business liaisons” in every department, Owens said there are hundreds of private trade associations and membership organizations that already fill that role by monitoring state and local governments.

They’re doing that work on behalf of small business and it isn’t costing taxpayers a penny. On top of that, Michigan already has an Office of Small Business Ombudsman who also carries out many of the same directives in the proposed positions.

Main Street doles business grants
Nine communities around Michigan, including Boyne City and Charlevoix (see graphic below), have been awarded more than $260,000 in grants aimed at supporting small local businesses, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation announced today.

The Match on Main program was intended to provide grants of between $5,000 and $25,000 to Select or Master level Michigan Main Street communities in conjunction with eligible businesses seeking support.

Projects could include interior building renovations, furniture and fixtures, permanent equipment, point of sale systems, marketing expenses, and inventory.

“Small businesses drive the economies of our communities,” said Michelle Parkkonen, Director of Community Development Technical Assistance Programs at the MEDC. “These grants will support local businesses, further strengthening the downtowns and commercial districts in these communities, while building unique places that are attractive to residents and visitors.”


Leave a Reply