Efforts to promote I-69 International Trade Corridor - ABC 12 – WJRT – Flint, MI

Efforts to promote I-69 International Trade Corridor

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(10/31/12) - If the hopes and dreams of business leaders come true, I-69 will be a lot busier in the next few years. There are plans to spur business development from Perry to Port Huron.

Community leaders from Shiawassee, Genesee, Lapeer and St. Clair Counties want to see bigger businesses and more jobs. So they're working with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation to promote the I-69 corridor as the place where commerce can and will grow.

"That's what it takes to create the environment to spur economic growth," said Jennifer Nelson, chief of staff and General Counsel for the MEDC.

Truck traffic would increase on the expressway. Freight trains would carry more Mid-Michigan goods and airports would be busier.

"We've got a lot of great assets in our workforce, in our available properties and our transportation networks and that adds to the potential of the corridor for even more business and job development in the future," said Janice Karcher, Genesee Regional Chamber of Commerce vice president.

The most obvious business partner to work with is the one directly to the east.

"I think being really close to Canada is definitely a strength; logistic possibilities can really help our companies be able to export to one of our largest export trading partners, which is Canada," Nelson said.

Mid-Michigan farmers are hoping Canada will be more interested in what they're growing.

"Everything that's produced north of here, the Thumb, the Saginaw Valley, comes through this corridor," said Jim Byrum, President of the Michigan Agri-business Association.

While manufacturing has its highs and lows, agriculture tends to stay on a more even keel.

"This has always been primarily a manufacturing center with Saginaw, Bay City and Flint. The irony is agriculture's been stable and the economic situation that agriculture is facing today is probably the best we've ever seen in the history of this country or this region," Byrum said.

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