Regionalism rewards communities
NORTHERN MI – The Northern Michigan Chamber Alliance responded to Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s ‘MI Vacc to Normal’ plan, tying reopening to vaccination targets. The Alliance represents 16 chambers and economic development organizations and over 7,000 member businesses from across northern Michigan.
After this morning’s announcement, the Alliance expressed optimism and stressed the need for community involvement in meeting the plan’s benchmarks. “We are cautiously optimistic that we now have metrics and a path to a full reopening. Our businesses are already serving as trusted leaders within our communities in encouraging employees and residents to be safe and will continue to do so,” said Stacie Bytwork, the chairperson of the Alliance and president and CEO of the Manistee Area Chamber of Commerce.
“It needs to be recognized that vaccination rates are not within the control of businesses alone – this is really a community-wide and statewide problem to solve. We encourage everyone who is ready to get vaccinated to find a walk-in clinic or talk to their health provider so we can continue our economic recovery.”
The Alliance also highlighted that some communities show more progress than others when it comes to vaccination rates. Northern Michigan, preparedness regions 7 and 8, according to the state’s COVID-19 Vaccine Dashboard April 29 data, has a 53.7 percent vaccine initiation rate, compared to the state’s 49.6 percent average. The initiation rate includes Michigan residents who have received either one or more doses of any vaccine, including Pfizer, Moderna, or J&J.
“We realize some communities are already working together and ensuring their residents have the information they need to feel comfortable getting vaccinated,” said Sarah Hagen, vice-chairperson of the Alliance and president of the Charlevoix Area Chamber of Commerce. “Let’s reward those communities that are working together and revisit a regional reopening approach.”
Northern Michigan successfully navigated the 2020 summer tourism season and kept residents and visitors safe. The Alliance is advocating a return to a regional approach that recognizes community vaccination efforts.
The Alliance shared that their chambers and economic development organizations have been active within their communities since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, ensuring businesses and residents have trusted information. They will continue serving as resources for their businesses and communities.
About the Northern Michigan Chamber Alliance:
The Northern Michigan Chamber Alliance is a coalition of chambers and economic development organizations including the Alpena Area Chamber of Commerce, Benzie County Chamber of Commerce, Cadillac Area Chamber of Commerce, Charlevoix Area Chamber of Commerce, Gaylord Area Chamber of Commerce, Petoskey Regional Chamber of Commerce, Traverse Connect, Manistee Area Chamber of Commerce, Lake Superior Community Partnership, Boyne Area Chamber of Commerce, Elk Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce, Harbor Springs Area Chamber of Commerce, East Jordan Area Chamber of Commerce, Cheboygan Area Chamber of Commerce, Sault Area Chamber of Commerce, & Leelanau Peninsula Chamber of Commerce. The Alliance exists to advocate for rural northern Michigan and move forward rural-centric business policy. More information on the Alliance’s latest work can be found at nmichiganbusiness.com.