Support sought for Lenawee development levy 2011.10.19

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

Perhaps the most important election for Lenawee County.

That’s the way Doug Kapnick views the county’s Proposal 1 on the Nov. 8 ballot.

Kapnick, who serves as chair of the Lenawee Jobs Now committee, visited Morenci last week to drum up support for the millage proposal that would levy 0.28 mills four years. The levy would cost $14 a year for the owner of a home valued at $100,000.

If passed by voters, the levy would bring in an estimated $880,000 to promote economic development and job creation in Lenawee County. Morenci property owners would send more than $14,000 toward Lenawee Economic Development Corporation (LEDC) efforts, far more than the $3,600 that city council now contributes.

Employment conditions are changing in Michigan and around the world, Kapnick said, and Lenawee County needs to be able to take advantage of the possibilities.

Michigan’s favorability rating for business development is moving in a positive direction, he said, and developers are looking favorably at the state.

Michigan has ample manufacturing facilities ready to be used, an excellent supply of fresh water, and a skilled labor force. The Rust Belt is being rediscovered.

“There are about 24 companies looking at Lenawee County,” Kapnick said. “We need to be able to respond and sell them on Lenawee County.”

The LEDC operates on a combination of government and private dollars, with about twice as much coming from public sources. Due to falling property values and government budget shortfalls, funding is also falling for the LEDC, and that’s coming at a bad time, Kapnick said.

About 6,000 jobs have been lost in the county in the last five years and census figures show a drop in population of about 10,000 people. The numbers of public school students lost is equal to that of the Tecumseh school district, the second largest in the county.

The LEDC has been active in meeting with businesses, helping make connections between businesses to benefit each other, offering entrepreneurial programs, and helping to retain and attract business. Kapnick said more is needed.

“We’ve not had the money to promote ourselves,” he said, “and we have a lot to sell.”

LEDC president Jim Gartin said that developers have favored the southwest United States in recent years, but he’s seeing action returning to the Midwest. He’s even heard about overseas expansion returning to the United States as foreign employment and shipping costs rise.

Manufacturing skills, a transportation network, facilities, quality schools and job training opportunities—Lenawee County has a lot to sell, Kapnick said, and the LEDC needs to act now.

Members of the Lenawee Jobs Now committee have been engaged in an extensive campaign to promote the levy by scheduling forums throughout the county and visiting organizations, senior centers, etc.

“We’ve discovered that if people don’t understand it, they’re just going to see it as another tax increase,” Kapnick said. “We have the opportunity to change things for the next generation. This may be the most important election for Lenawee County.”

  • Shadow.salon
    LEARNING THE ROPES—Kristy Castillo (left), co-owner of Mane Street Salon, works with Kendal Kuhn as Sierra Orner takes a phone call. The two Morenci Area High School juniors spent Friday at the salon as part of a job shadowing experience.
  • KayseInField
    IN THE FIELD—2004 Morenci graduate Kayse Onweller works in a test plot of wheat in Texas. She’s part of Bayer CropScience’s North American wheat breeding program based in Nebraska, where she completed post-graduate work in plant breeding and genetics.
  • Front.winner
    REFEREE Camden Miller raises the hand of Morenci Jr. Dawgs wrestler Ryder Ryan as his opponent leaves the mat in disappointment. Morenci’s youth wrestling program served as host for a tournament Saturday morning to raise money for the club. Additional photos are on the back page.
  • Front.bank.2
    SHERWOOD STATE Bank opened its Fayette office at a grand opening Friday morning, drawing a large crowd to view the renovated building. Above, Burt Blue talks to teller Cindy Funk, while his wife, Jackie, looks around the new office. The Blues missed the opening and took a quick tour on Tuesday. Few traces remain of the former grocery store and theater, however, part of the original brick wall still shows in the hallway leading to the back of the building. The drive-through window should be ready for customers later in the month.
  • Front.carry.casket
    CARRYING—Riley Terry (blue jacket) and Mason Vaughn lead the way, carrying an empty casket outside to the hearse waiting at the curb. Morenci juniors and seniors visited Eagle Funeral Home last week to learn about the role of a funeral director and to understand the process of arranging for a funeral.
  • Front.lift
    MORENCI student Dalton McCowan puts everything into a dead lift attempt Saturday morning during the Wyseguy Push/Pull event. Lifters helped raise more than $1,600 for the family of the late Devin Wyse, a former Morenci power-lifter who graduated last year. Commemorative T-shirts are still available by contacting teacher Dan Hoffman.
  • Front.make.three
    FROM THE LEFT, Landon Wilkins, Ryan White and Logan Blaker try out their artistic skills Saturday afternoon at the Morenci PTO’s first Date to Create event. More than 50 people showed up to create decorated planks of wood to hang from rope. The event served as a fund-raiser for miscellaneous PTO projects. Additional photos are on the back of this week’s Observer.

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