By Kathy Sather
We know that small, locally owned businesses serve as economic engines on which communities can succeed and thrive. They account for 65 percent of all new jobs and nearly 50 percent of all employees nationwide.
I hope you will join me in urging lawmakers to invest in one of our own economic engines – Family Health Care with centers located in Baldwin, Cadillac, Grant, McBain and Cadillac. Here in Michigan, community health centers employ more than 6,000 people of all education and ability levels, generating more than $1.3 billion in economic activity.
As the President and CEO of Family Health Care, I am proud of the personalized approach we take to provide quality, affordable health care. We are a community institution, welcoming and providing care for all our neighbors, regardless of who they are, where they come from, or their ability to pay. We make sure our grandparents can afford their prescriptions; we provide dad with cancer screenings; we provide mom with the best prenatal care; and, we nurture their newborn’s development at every check-up.
At Family Health Care, we proudly care for nearly 26,000 community members right here in West Michigan. We provide our patients with not only medical care but also dental care, behavioral health, pharmacy, radiology, laboratory and vision services to ensure they can navigate the complicated landscape of health care. Our staff consistently go beyond the medical chart to ensure that families have access to essential resources and a warm, comforting space.
Today, community health centers across the country are facing an uncertain future. Even though we comprise the largest primary care network in the country, solidifying the backbone of the health care safety net, Congress has yet to pass our long-term funding. As a result, health centers are forced to operate on short-term funding patches, making it difficult for us to provide consistent services, plan for the future, and recruit and retain our best employees. Small businesses cannot survive without stability in funding. We can only continue to provide quality health care for people in our community if Congress acts – and acts now.
This holiday season; please consider supporting businesses like mine in other ways. Call or email your member of Congress and remind them how integral health centers are in our community. Remember: community health centers are local businesses that are keeping us healthy.
President & CEO
Family Health Care
Marijuana making a mark in WC
By Charles Chandler
How can cities like White Cloud compete for regional and national business?
Good question, and most residents will quickly tell you that we need to attract new businesses and residents to our City.
Yet that can be a challenge according to one former White Cloud business owner.
“The State of Michigan has set the bar low for developing 501(c)(3) enterprises. Some of these entities can operate like a business, yet, they have different oversight, operating rules and don’t have to pay taxes. Given this advantage starting and successfully operating private and family-owned businesses in small municipalities like White Cloud is daunting. Considering that many of these municipalities have high taxes, restrictive zoning and a population with limited disposable income.”
These challenges are often magnified when you have a demographic with reflective nostalgia who only want to talk about the good ole days and see change as something to be feared or resisted. Common themes heard in many public meetings and hearings follow; ‘you can do whatever you want as long as it doesn’t cost me anything, not in my neighborhood and it must not affect my comfort zone.’
Given these inherent barriers and limitations, how do the Chambers of Commerce, City Officials, and entrepreneurs go about starting and supporting new business in these small municipalities? They market their assets, take advantage of new opportunities, face up to opposition and take risks to become a business-friendly community.
White Cloud does have marketable assets and strengths. The obvious is location, location, location. The City rest at the corners of M 37 and M 20. It also has abundant recreational assets and opportunities with trails, the White River, local parks, and nearby Huron-Manistee Forest. Its biggest asset is land with. large tracts of both Brownfield and undeveloped areas.
The new opportunity is the Michigan Marijuana Business. The voters in the State of Michigan, Newaygo County and the City of White Cloud approved the production and sale of medical and recreational marijuana. White Cloud’s Legislative body, City Manager and the Planning Commission took that voter approval and drove a stake in the ground. They discussed the risk, listen to the opposition speak, and sought counsel from experts and the City Attorney. After deliberation, they assumed the risk and hung out the shingle, believing the marijuana business to be a niche market where the City could compete.
City Manager Lora Kalkofen assumed sales and marketing and met with potential marijuana businessmen. The City Planning Commission, composed of Mayor Jamie Denslow, members, Charles Twing, Keith Payne, Lori Shears, Becci Kolenda, and Manager Kalkofen, did the heavy lifting. They ensured that City codes and ordinances were developed to align with the State of Michigan PA 281 of 2016, the Medical Marijuana Facilities Licensing Act, MCLA 333.27101, et seq., and IL 1 of 2018 the Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act, MCLA 333.27951, et seq. Additional, they conducted reviews with the city’s attorney , posted public notices, held public hearings and presented the documents to the City Council for review and final approval. White Cloud now has the option to allow the licensing, and permitting of marijuana Growers of any class, Processors, Retailers, Secure Transporters, Safety Compliance Facilities, and Micro Businesses to operate within the City Limits.
“We get calls almost daily about opportunities to open a Marijuana business in White Cloud,”Kalkofen stated.
She suggested that while the early focus has been on the Medical Marijuana business she expects that future growth in White Cloud will be Recreational Marijuana production and retail sales.
All businesses will meet State and City codes and ordinances, particularly the 500-foot setback limits from schools and churches. Mayor Denslow will seat a seven-member Marijuana Board to provide oversight of the licensing and permitting functions.
White Cloud has one successful Medical Marijuana business on M 37. All the lots in the Washington Street Industrial Park have been sold to a potential marijuana business. The ground has been broken for two grow facilities with construction to begin as weather permits. Construction of the large NWM Organic Farms, LLC Marijuana Grow facility located at 183 N. Webster in White Cloud is well underway. That company is solely owned by Mr. Rick Ziehl and operations are expected to begin in the spring of 2020.
On December 1st, it became legal to sell recreational marijuana in the State and a limited number of retail shops opened their doors for business. Marijuana and Hemp production is a new business for the State, County and the City and how it will shake out is anyone’s guess. Let’s hope that market economics determine the outcome of this venture and not the bureaucrats and politicians.
Hats off to the White Cloud voters, the legislative body, the City staff, and the Planning Commission and other supporters for facing the opposition, taking risks and allowing City to attract these much-needed new businesses.
This is one time you did not snooze and hopefully won’t lose.
Mr. Chandler is a regular contributor to our pages, a White Cloud City Council Member and a rather avid fisherman.
An N3 Editorial
"So you watch yourself about complaining.
What you're supposed to do
when you don't like a thing is change it.
If you can't change it,
change the way you think about it.”-Maya Angelou
Maya always seemed to be able to capture deep concepts into her wonderful weaving of words.
So what is it about change that unsettles us? Not all change of course. Anything altered out of our own doing or desire generally suits us better but when the unexpected, unprepared for, unknown and unwanted arrive we resist, reject, and refuse to consider any level of acceptance.
We get it. Change is tough. Don’t believe us? Here’s an experiment.
For the next week when you wake up in the morning and it becomes time to get dressed? Think about what leg you always start with when putting on pants.
Then put in the opposite leg first.
Small change right? Easy?
Well, chances are you’ll find it’s awkward as hell and soon you’ll return to the familiar way of hitching up the leggings.
Recently Newaygo City Council member Eric Johnson shared his thoughts about the alteration in the downtown traffic lanes along with some other projected changes in the near future.
He noted the several meetings that have been held over the past couple of years involving increasing the town's ‘walkability’.
Numbers at these meetings weren’t bad for such gatherings however they were mostly attended by the same folks and none of the crowds came close to the amount of people in attendance at the average freshman basketball game.
And now it looks like downtown travel will change. There will likely be voices who bemoan such moves claiming to not have heard anything about the initiative and even sometimes feeling betrayed by those making the changes.
This seems to happen a lot and interestingly enough even in these days of instantaneous interaction, prolific local social media, and the ever grinding rumor mill (see fireworks store) some folks just don’t seem to get the memos. Others who did indeed hear of the doings may not take the time necessary to attend the meetings. Thus the city’s attempts at inclusiveness while admirable don’t always generate the dialogue desired.
Other towns in our fair county have been experiencing change as well. The County Seat of White Cloud is looking at the possibility of a Hope Network housing initiative that has drawn some pushback from the townsfolk and the burg is bracing for the burgeoning cannabis businesses beginning to blossom in the city limits. Fremont recently completed their bypass, an effort that met with some ongoing resistance, and they are dealing with a change at the top of their police department while Hesperia would like to make some changes but they can’t field a team (quorum) to do so.
Don’t like what’s happening? Go to the next meeting. Try to bring along an open mind and be prepared to listen. The city seems to be trying to gain input from the citizenry which is a commendable effort so take the offering and get engaged.
Try to remember that change, while not always comfortable, is surely inevitable.
And should the decisions made and the initiatives put forth end up not working out?
They can always be changed, right?
“I put a dollar in one of those change machines but nothing changed.”- George Carlin
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