Economic Development Corporation

 Welcome to Arenac County!

If you’re looking to locate or expand your business, you’ll find a warm welcome, and a bright future in Arenac County. Nestled along the north shore of Saginaw Bay and the western shore of Lake Huron, Arenac County offers an excellent business climate combined with an exceptional quality of life.

Abundant natural resources and access to transportation routes attracted the area’s Native American settlers, early European traders and homesteaders, turn-of the-century entrepreneurs, and today’s manufacturers, shop owners and service providers. 

Service-related businesses provide the majority (about 30 percent) of the area’s jobs. The next largest industry sector is retail trade, which employs about 20 percent of area workers. Local, state and federal jobs comprise the third sector, followed by manufacturing, farm employment, construction, finance/insurance/real estate, and transportation/public utilities rounds out the major employers.

The tourism industry is responsible for creating and sustaining many jobs here. Visitors to the county annually inject more than $14 million into the local economy. That's because the area is blessed with a multitude of outdoor recreational opportunities. Rivers and streams flow through the entire county, and the Rifle, Au Gres, and Pine Rivers are favored playgrounds for canoeing, rafting, and stream fishing. Trout, steelhead, chinook and coho salmon, suckers, and smelt abound in these waters. Over fifty miles of Saginaw Bay shoreline offers great opportunity for some fantastic walleye fishing and our local guides can take you there. The Au Gres area marinas on Lake Huron provide immediate access to the Great Lakes for vessels of all sizes. Camping and swimming are enjoyed all summer by families at many inland sites and parks, and a designated water trail along the entire Arenac coastline is currently in development for kayakers, birders, and waterfowl hunters to provide additional water access throughout the seasons.

The mission of the Arenac County Economic Development Corporation is to work in partnership with local government and area businesses to promote Arenac County as a place to live, work, and vacation; assist business with location and expansion efforts; increase resources for economic development; support local economic development projects; managed growth and increase opportunities for employer/employee training.

 The Arenac County EDC is committed to the growth and diversification of the County’s economy. To that end, the EDC is actively involved in working with new and expanding businesses and industries to facilitate the creation of new jobs for the citizens of Arenac County.  

Please contact our office to learn more about the programs and services offered by the Arenac County EDC including: tax credit programs for creating new jobs and investing in business property, grant programs for infrastructure development, business relocation assistance, and hosting meetings of community leaders to discuss economic trends, issues and strategies. We are aggressively seeking new business opportunities, and can compete with any other community with incentives we are willing to provide your business. Call us today.

The Arenac County EDC is administered by a Board of Directors and appointed by the County Board of Commissioners. Please call Lisa Barna, Business Solutions Professional at 989-846-2111 for more specific information or email: 


EDC Board of Directors
Director – Lisa Barna
President – Curt Hillman
Vice President – Dan Ratajczak
Secretary – Laura Puzzuoli
Treasurer – Dennis Stawowy
Administrative Assistant – Connie Manszewski
Members at Large 
Brian Smith
John Stanley
Jay Jacobs
Pat Killingbeck
Adam Kroczaleski
Deb Morgan
Neal Bishop
Ruth Ann Cook
Mike Stodolak
Jerry Nelson
Holly Bender
Mark Winslow
Arenac County Economic Development Profile Data
Area – 367 square miles   
Acres of forest – 113,600 acres
Miles of Great Lakes shoreline – 47 
Miles of rivers and streams – 155 
Population – 17,000 (2010 Estimate) US Census Bureau Income
           Median household income - $36,281 (2007-11) US Census Bureau 
            Per capita income - $19,386 (2007-11) US Census Bureau
Retail Sales
            Total retail sales – ($1,000) = $118,751 (2007) US Census Bureau
            Per capita retail sales $7,144 (2007) US Census Bureau
            Total labor force – 7,664
            Employed – 6,372
            Unemployed – 1,293
            Percent unemployed – 12% in 2012


Arenac County EDC Director's Report

Projects for this Month:

·         USDA Home Repair Loans in Arenac County-the USDA has a new grant program as part of their rural development initiative which gives local residents funds to help with home repairs to help fight blight. The grant can be for up to $7,500 and has to be repaid to the USDA if the house is sold in the 3 years after it is renovated.

o   This month I talked to Kelly from the USDA office in Caro, and I set down to talk a little bit more about the program and she gave me information for people who may be interested in participating

o   We also took this time to set a date and a time to do the home repair loan informational meeting. For this meeting she asked if she could bring in local partners who will help fund home repair loans for people who don’t meet the income or location requirements for the USDA programs.

o   That being said, this informational meeting will be a lot bigger than we initially planned and I hope to have a good turnout for the USDA and our partners. 

o   Meeting date: September 19th, 6:30-7:30pm at the Standish Michigan Works (fliers to come)

·         EMCOG Mini Grants Program (G4)-Arenac was able to submit two grants to the EMCOG Mini-Grant program. We were just two of many applications that were turned in and EMCOG was surprised at the response.

o   There were $250,000 worth of proposals submitted to EMCOG and they only have $100,000 in funding. Because of this some projects are already looking for other funding avenues since over half of the grants submitted will be denied.

o   To help pick up the slack we decided at our regional MEDC meeting this Tuesday to fund a Gratiot County grant that is a feasibility study to see how much business is being lost in Michigan due to 127 having a section of road being only 65mph.

o   We will hear back on which grants have been accepted in early August. What plans would we like to put in place in case these projects aren’t funded?

·         Connect Michigan (G3)-I talked to Tom Stephenson and he let me know that our Connect Plan has been finalized and that it is our official action plan going forward. All the miscellaneous information that was needed to complete the project has been pieced together and we now have a final plan.

o   Now that the plan is complete, what do you think would be the best way to distribute this information?

o   Connect Michigan Action Steps:

§  Access 1-Perform a broadband build out analysis and validate demand

·         Completed through the broadband surveys and the formation of the Connect Michigan team. Meeting continuously as a team until the action steps are completed is a necessary part of this step.

§  Access 2-Perform an analysis of local policies and ordinances

·         Looking for someone interested in heading up this action step in the Connect Michigan Plan. This includes restrictions on tower height in cities, townships, and the county and any other barriers internet providers might face when developing this area.

§  Access 5-Complete a vertical assets inventory

·         Ogemaw County just completed their vertical assets inventory. They were able to complete in through a grant and it took them two years to compile all the needed information. I would be willing to start on this step from a research point of view and figure out what our next steps are. I would like help and partnership on this action step.

§  Adoption 2-Promote low cost broadband services

·         I have offered to help with the schools and working with them to promote the affordable high-speed internet program that was launched earlier this year in Kalamazoo. Thus far I have talked to the main contact with their Connect Michigan team about their fliers and marketing strategies. 

§  Adoption 5-Cyber security classes

·         Arleen Wood from the library has been working with Iosco County to put on cyber security classes and would like to start doing the same thing in Arenac County. We have set up our first two cyber security courses for this area.

o   Cyber Security Classes: August 15th, 9am-11am and January 16th, 9am-11am at Standish Michigan Works and January 16th, 9am-11am

·         We need to promote this upcoming event. If you know any places that could use a few flyers, please let me know so we can put them up.

o   Flyers will be created soon to be able to advertise the event. We are also looking at doing some radio adds as well to make sure that people know we are offering this free class as part of our Connect Michigan Plan.

§  Adoption 7-Social media/tourism workshop for local businesses

·         Carl Sapp volunteered to help with the logistics and research of social media classes for local businesses. We intend to look at other Connect Michigan plans that have been implemented to see what they covered, how the event worked, and how they were marketed.

§  Adoption 10-Explore web-enabled formats for K-12 course delivery

·         Through the GLBRA all the counties are given access to the program called Middle School Math. This is an online, interactive, math program that is funded through grants. I will look into this to see how much it’s been utilized in Arenac County school districts and what other online learning options schools are already using.

o   Also, I will be working on crafting the last few necessary paragraphs for the report and have a firm list of our priority goals going forward.

·         211 Northeast Michigan-(G3) This month I was able to reach out to Sarah Kile from 211 Northeast Michigan in regards to some questions I had about support they could give to local Employee Retention Networks. She let me know that with the help and support we were looking for at Vantage Plastics, there wasn’t much she could do, but she did say that their services help serve many small businesses, especially in Midland where they have taken full advantage of the program.

o   Sarah offered to do a presentation on 211 Northeast Michigan and how they can help with employee retention for small businesses throughout Arenac County. She will be doing a brief informational session on October 16th, noon-1pm at Standish Michigan Works. This will be a great event to help serve some of our smaller businesses in the county. 

·         Chamber of Commerce Membership-Both the chamber of commerce membership letters have come in. To be a member of the Standish Chamber it costs $125 and to be a member of the Au Gres Chamber it costs $150.

·         Retention Visits-As you know I have been completing retention visits all spring and turning those results into the MEDC and for every visit they have been paying local EDCs $200. They have reviewed our first batch of retention visits and we have been given a check from MEDC for $1,200

o   They have said that despite the fact that these paid visits have been returning a lot of good information and that the MEDC has a better understanding of what is happening with businesses in our counties, they will not be providing this program next year.

o   I have submitted five more retention visits for review and I’m hoping to do a few more before the final deadline of September 30th.

·         Vantage Plastics Employee Retention Network-I have been part of the Employee Retention Network that was started at Vantage Plastics. This ERN has now been in operation for over a year and they are slowly starting to see success at Vantage with this program being in place.

o   By this fall we’re hoping to have enough results from this program to introduce it to other manufacturers in Arenac County. We hope to have an informational meeting at the Michigan Works office in November to showcase what Vantage has gained from making this a part of their workplace culture.

·         Great Lake Bay Regional Alliance Meeting-At the meeting this month they talked about their next steps forward for marketing and how they intend to reach out to their leads that they’ve gathered overseas.

o   In the next few months Breaha Wallins and Matt Felan will be traveling to Chicago, Philadelphia, Indianapolis, Dallas, and Las Vegas to showcase the Great Lakes Bay Region and all we have to offer.

o   As you all know they have been doing an international tour for last six months and they have decided to stay local for a while as they start to do one-on-one meetings with prospective businesses.


o   Breaha sent out a list of all the leads that they have right now for the EDC boards to look at. She would like us to spend time going through the list to see if there are any connections that we might have to business leaders on the list. If you do have a connection with any of these businesses or leaders please let her know so she can work with you to help secure their relocation to the Bay region. 



Agriculture is an important segment of the Arenac County economy and accounts for 48% of the County’s land use. According to the 2011 Arenac County Master Plan, 70,165 total acres are in prime farmland, 8,710 total acres are in additional farmland of local importance, and 1,468 total acres are in unique farmland, other than prime.

Financial Institutions

Chemical Bank
220 S. Main St.
Standish, MI 48658   989-846-9506

FirstMerit Bank
120 N. Forest St.
Standish, MI 48658   989-846-5207

Huron Community Bank
3150 E. Huron Rd.
Au Gres, MI 48703   989-876-8068

Independent Bank
209 S. Main St.
Standish, MI 48658   989-846-4595

North Central Area Credit Union
212 Court St. S.
Standish, MI 48658   989-846-9553

Sunrise Family Credit Union
3887 S. Huron Rd.
Standish, MI 48658   989-846-9750

Major Employers   
ATD Engineering & Machine    
533 N. Court St., Au Gres, MI 48703     989-876-7161            
Auburn Bean and Grain Company
4198 S. Huron Rd., Standish, MI 48658   989-846-9114                       
Bay City Shovels
PO Box 169, 2497 US 23, Au Gres, MI 48703     989-876-8121  
Bessinger Pickle Co. Inc.                         
537 N. Court St., Au Gres, MI 48703   989-876-8008
Bopp-Busch Manuf. Co.
545 E. Huron Rd., PO Box 589, Au Gres, MI 48703    989-876-71
Crew Products Co. 
205 N. Mackinaw Rd., Au Gres, MI 48703    989-876-7924
Globe Fire Sprinkler Corp.    
407 Airpark Dr., Standish, MI 48658     989-846-4583 
1205 W. Cedar St., Standish, MI 48658        989-512-1000
Maple Ridge Hardwoods                     
2270 North Dobler, Sterling, MI 48659       989-873-5305
Modern Craft Winery
2760 E. Booth Rd., Au Gres, MI 48703       989-876-0270
Vantage Plastics         
1415 W. Cedar St., Standish, MI 48658      989-846-1029  
Climate / Degrees F
January avg. low/hi – 11/28 
July avg. low/hi – 56/82
Avg. annual snowfall – 45 inches
Avg. annual rainfall – 28 inches
Growing season – 126 days
Housing U.S. Census Bureau
Housing units – 9,745 (2011)
Households – 6,526 (2011)
Median rent - $400/month (2009)
Median value owner-occupied housing units - $94,900 (2011)
Homeownership rate – 82.7% (2011)
Business Establishments – 337 establishments  
Natural Resource and Mining – 1.5%
Construction and Manufacturing – 20.8%
Trade, Transportation and Utilities – 27.0%
Information, Financial, Professional and Business Services – 16.6%  
Educational and Health Services – 9.2%
Leisure and Hospitality – 14.2%
Public Admin. and Other Services – 14.7%
County Seat – City of Standish
Miles from:
Chicago: 344
Cleveland: 310
Detroit: 149
Indianapolis: 383
Lansing: 130
Transportation Services
Air – MBS International Airport
8500 Garfield Rd, Freeland, MI  48626  989-695-5555
Rail – Lake State Railway
1002 Long Lake Rd., Alpena, MI 49707      989-354-6768  
Highways I-75, M-13, M-33, M-61, M-65, M-70, M-76, US-23
Local Bus – Arenac County Transit     Dial-a-Ride 989-846-7500
Public Schools Serving Arenac County
Arenac Eastern School District   
200 Smalley St., Twining, MI 48766   989-867-4234
Au Gres-Sims School District  
140 S. Court St., Au Gres, MI 48703   989-876-7157
Standish-Sterling Community Schools   
3789 Wyatt Rd., Standish, MI 48658     989-846-3670
Tawas Area Schools
245 W M 55, Tawas City, MI 48763      989-362-8408  
Whittemore Prescott Area Schools
8970 Prescott Rd., Whittemore, MI 48770   989-756-2500                       

Regional Higher Education Institutions

Delta College (two year community college)
1961 Delta Rd., University Center, MI 48710
Campus Centers in Bay City, Midland and Saginaw

Kirtland Community College  (63 available degrees and certificates)
Central campus in Roscommon
Extensions in West Branch and Gaylord

Saginaw Valley State University (undergraduate and graduate programs)
7400 Bay Rd., University Center, MI 48710

Iosco/Arenac County District Library
105 North St., Standish, MI 48658        989-846-6611
Mary Johnston Memorial Library
114 N. Court St. Standish, MI 48658        989-846-6611
Omer Little Eagle's Nest Library
201 E. Center  Omer, MI  48749      989 653-2230
Au Gres Library
230 N. Mackinaw  Au Gres, MI 48703
Hospitals/Health Centers/Nursing Facilities
St. Mary’s of Michigan - Standish Community Hospital
805 Cedar St., Standish, MI 48658
Sterling Area Health Center
725 E. State St., Sterling, MI 48659       989-654-2491
Adult Day Care/Living Facilities  
Horizon Senior Living
218 Airpark Dr., Standish, MI 48658      989-386-4900
Medilodge of Sterling, LLC
500 School Rd., Sterling, MI 48659       989-654-2496
Pleasant Days Adult Day Care Center
131 Clyde St., Omer, MI 48749             989-370-7184
HIstorical Society
Arenac County Historical Society
304 E. Michigan Ave., Au Gres, MI 48703        989-876-6399
Chambers of Commerce  
AuGres Chamber    
PO Box 455, Au Gres, MI 48703         989-876-6688                                                                      
Standish Chamber
PO Box 458, Standish, MI 48658        989-846-7867
Welcome Center
Downtown Development Authorities
City of AuGres
124 W. Huron Rd., Au Gres, MI 48703        989-876-8811
City of Standish
399 E. Beaver St., Standish, MI 48658      989-846-9588
Michigan Works             
4480 West M-61, Standish, MI 48658        989-846-2111