Tag Archives: nlea

Northwest Michigan Regional Agriculture Business Services Partnership increases our capacity to reach out

Here in Michigan State University Extension, we often seek to work in partnership with other organizations to better serve our clients. The newly created Northwest Michigan Regional Agriculture Business Services Partnership is a great example of reaching out beyond the confines of our organization to bring knowledge to Michigan residents in the northwestern Lower Peninsula.

Spearheaded by MSU Extension partner Northern Lakes Economic Alliance (NLEA) with support from District 3 coordinator Patrick Cudney, former Greening Michigan Institute (GMI) director Rick Foster and current interim GMI director Dave Ivan, the partnership brings together six different organizations to leverage resources: MSU Extension, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC),the Northwest Michigan Council of Governments (NWMCOG), MSU Product Center Food-Ag-Bio, the Michigan Small Business & Technology Development Center (MI-SBTDC)and the NLEA. MSU Extension’s efforts to bring these organizations together made the partnership a reality.

The MEDC, MSU Extension and the NWMCOG provide funding for the partnership. The partnership will enhance services to agriculture-related businesses such as product development, marketing, business plans, financing, education and training, and farm production and distribution.

“This partnership continues MSU Extension’s proud history of supporting Michigan’s agriculture industry by helping entrepreneurs develop and commercialize high-value products in the agriculture, natural resources and bio-economy sectors,” said Patrick Cudney, who also serves as NLEA Board member.

Andy Hayes, an MSU Extension GMI economic development educator, who works for MSU Extension within the NLEA partnership as the alliance’s president, played a key role in the partnership’s formation.

“We’re thrilled with this new effort,” said Andy, “In typical northwest Michigan fashion, several organizations combined resources to offer much better services with a far broader reach than any individual organization could have provided on their own.”

In the past, MSU Extension had one person doing this type of work covering four counties. Through the partnership, we now have an agriculture team of three covering 11 counties. The team includes Wendy Wieland, MSU Extension program instructor in the GMI and MSU Product Center innovation counselor; Annie Shetler, MI-SBTDC business consultant; and Susan Cocciarelli, NWMCOG Northwest Michigan Agriculture and Food System Sector Alliance coordinator.

creation of the Northwest Michigan Regional Agriculture Business Services Partnership July 2012

Left to right :Tom Coon, MSU Extension director; Susan Cocciarelli, NWMCOG Northwest Michigan Agriculture and Food System Sector Alliance coordinator; Elaine Wood, NWMCOG CEO; Wendy Wieland, MSU Extension program instructor and MSU Product Center innovation counselor; Annie Shetler, SBTDC business consultant; Brenda Reau, Extension educator representing the MSU Product Center; and Mary Rogers, MI-SBTDC regional director, announce the creation of the Northwest Michigan Regional Agriculture Business Services Partnership July 2012. Photo credit: NWMCOG

Wendy’s reassignment will allow her full engagement in the partnership. In her role, she helps people who have an idea to take to market to help develop that product. She provides a front door to entrepreneurs who can take advantage of expertise on campus around food safety, packaging and marketing research. She’ll work in coordination with Ms. Shetler and Ms. Cocciarelli to meet agriculture entrepreneurs’ needs across the spectrum of business development, expansion and marketing.

Through collaboration, this new partnership expands our methods and our capacity to reach out to Michigan residents to meet their needs.

View this video on the partnership:

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Solomon and McCauley receive awards and accolades for their work in communities

Within one week, two of our colleagues in northern lower Michigan were recognized for the work they do as Michigan State University Extension employees and as valued citizens in their communities. Dean Solomon, senior educator in the Greening Michigan Institute, received Special Recognition for Outstanding Leadership from the Northern Lakes Economic Alliance (NLEA). NLEA is a collaborative organization, which provides resources that help entrepreneurs and communities to create and retain jobs in the counties of Antrim, Charlevoix, Cheboygan and Emmet. Dean was recognized for his service on the NLEA Board and his assistance with multiple NLEA projects. NLEA noted that Dean’s facilitation skills have been especially helpful in navigating often contentious issues related to natural resource based enterprises. His New Economy programs have equipped decision makers to work towards a balance between “place” and “jobs” that is so critical to Michigan’s emerging economy of the future.

 Dean was surprised to learn of his award at the annual NLEA luncheon held on May 4 at Boyne Mountain resort. Other than Dean’s recognition, my second favorite part of the NLEA luncheon was the opening. The Petoskey High School Marching Band had all 500 participants on their feet. And what I especially liked about the band was their steel drum corps. I’ve only seen one other high school band with steel drums and it was in the Caribbean. The eight Petoskey drummers transported me to memories of warm breezes and flowered shirts.

 Ranae McCauley, Extension program instructor in Kalkaska County, was recognized a week earlier by Athena Grand Traverse. She received the Athena award, which is based on efforts to advance women in leadership roles, along with professional excellence and community service. Ranae currently serves on several projects in MSUE including development efforts for the local food system along with Extension educator Rob Sirrine and the leading of two-county human services collaborative through our Kalkaska County office. Her tireless efforts in contributing to the Traverse Bay Area Poverty Reduction Initiative were highlighted in her nomination for the Athena award. She was described as “a cheerleader and challenger to the community for all things related to children, families and schools.” That is a GREAT honor for anyone, and we are fortunate to have Ranae representing MSUE in her efforts. You can read more about Ranae’s award at http://record-eagle.com/local/x1537355958/McCauley-tabbed-for-Athena-Award.

 Congratulations to both Dean and Ranae for their recognitions and thanks to both for devoting so much of their efforts to people and communities in northern Michigan. We’re proud to call you colleagues and proud to have MSUE affiliated with your achievements. Thanks!

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Northern Lakes Economic Alliance marks 25 years of success

I had the opportunity to speak to the Northern Lakes Economic Alliance (NLEA) during their annual luncheon on May 11. NLEA is as a non-profit, public/private partnership serving Antrim, Charlevoix, Emmet and Cheboygan counties. Their mission is to “enhance the economy of our region by acting as a resource to local government and companies to retain and create quality jobs.”

MSU Extension has been a partner in the NLEA since they it was formed in 1984, and we remain closely linked to the partnership today. In fact, NLEA contracts with MSUE to serve as employer for the Andy Hayes, NLEA president, and Wendy Wieland, an MSUE educator and NLEA staff member. In addition, Dean Solomon, Charlevoix CED, and Patrick Cudney, North Region director, sit on their board of directors.

As we look for linkages with economic development efforts across our state, we can learn a lot from the NLEA model. It’s clear that there’s a need for educational programming in economic development, as exemplified by MSU Product Center innovation counselors such as Wendy.

The NLEA helps communities and businesses attract and retain businesses and jobs. It provides counsel to small businesses in partnership with the MSU Product Center and the Michigan Small Business and Technology Development Center. Their 2009 economic development plan is a great formula for communities and regions across the state: helping local manufacturers diversify their product lines; recognizing, educating and capitalizing on the shift toward the knowledge economy; being prepared to react quickly to growth opportunities as the economy begins to rebound; assisting entrepreneurs at all levels; and leveraging resources to help communities become more attractive to companies.

Most important, NLEA works and succeeds BECAUSE it is an alliance—a partnership. And it is powerful: 350 people attended the annual luncheon. That’s an amazing team for four counties in northern lower Michigan. I know there are similar alliances elsewhere in the state, and we would be well served to link with them in the way we are linked in with NLEA.

Thanks to all of the MSUE staff—past and present—who help make NLEA a success.

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Filed under Economic development, Leadership