Bay Area Chamber of Commerce holds annual 'State of the Commun - ABC 12 – WJRT – Flint, MI

Bay Area Chamber of Commerce holds annual 'State of the Community'

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(02/20/13) - The state of Bay County is healthy, but government leaders say there will be some challenges ahead.

Wednesday, the Bay Area Chamber of Commerce held it's 13th annual 'State of the Community.'

It was an opportunity for business leaders and community members to learn where the Bay Area stands in 2013.

City, county, and township officials offered reports. There was plenty of good news, but it comes with some obstacles.

Leaders realize declining revenues and shrinking resources will cause concerns in the coming months, but they say they are not afraid of what's ahead.

"We have a long history of doing this and we are not afraid of challenges," said Christopher Shannon, Bay City Mayor.

Challenges like declining fund balances and shrinking resources. Obstacles that municipalities across the state are trying to conquer.

While government leaders in Bay County say the area is healthy now, they know it's not immune to the financial crisis.

"We're all in the same boat," said Paul Wasek, of Williams Charter Township.

The State of the Community address touched on common themes - team work, success through combined efforts of city, township and county, and efforts in the classroom.

"Our local districts have been working together, partnering with the Bay Arenac ISD in the business and education partnership to hold countywide school board meetings," said John Mertz, superintendent of Essexville-Hampton Public Schools.

It's cooperation they hope will keep the county moving forward  in the midst of economic distress.

Among the many positive talking points, Wednesday, was the re-development of Uptown at RiversEdge.

"This is the most significant development that took place in Bay City over the past year," Shannon said.

Dow Corning, McLaren Bay Region, and Chemical Bank will all occupy the new building, which is under construction and will stand at a once vacant industrial site.

The project should be complete by 2014, and bring hundreds of jobs to the area.

Leaders say projects like this will keep the county going in the right direction.

"With hard work, a little luck, our city, our residents, and our employees will be alright," Shannon said.

Also mentioned was the construction of the Mill Lofts, a development that will feature upscale rentals, restaurants and retail shops, and is expected to draw a younger population to the Bay Area. That project is expected to start within a year.

Neighborhood revitalization, public safety, and the construction of the new water treatment plant were also parts of the discussions.

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