Alliance Advocates for COVID-19 Recovery Funding

This week, the Northern Michigan Chamber Alliance continued COVID-19 recovery advocacy with a formal request to the House and Senate Appropriations Chairs to fund Pure Michigan, Going Pro, and to remain committed to investing in roads and bridges in the Fiscal Year 2021 budget. In the letter, the Alliance outlined how these programs are essential to Michigan’s economic recovery.

Pure Michigan has proven to provide a significant return on investment, returning nearly nine dollars in state tax revenue for every dollar invested in advertising. During recovery, the Alliance believes that we should rely on programs that have proven their worth and value.

As our state grapples with one of the highest unemployment rates in the nation, the Alliance identified Going Pro as a program to train our workforce to enter trades that will continue pushing us into the 21st-century job market. Going Pro provides job training grants to businesses to support training for high-demand, skilled trades industries and can support the reinvention and diversification of our economies.

While our entire state continues to get back to work, our roads and bridges will take people to and from employment and bring commerce and out-of-state visitors, generating economic activity in all regions of Michigan. Northern Michigan continues to advocate for a road funding model that accounts for rural highways, arterials, and connectors that feed the region’s economy.

The Alliance also worked with fellow organizations to pen a letter to the Governor and House and Senate Appropriations Chairs, further underscoring the importance of Pure Michigan. Alliance and members included, 22 organizations supported the continuation of Pure Michigan funding to promote our state as a destination where communities and businesses are safely reopening.

In other news, this week, the Legislature passed two bills supported by the Northern Michigan Chamber Alliance and numerous chambers from across Michigan. House Bills 5781 & 5811 allow for social districts and liquor to go and are on their way to the Governor. House Bill 5781, sponsored by State Rep. Webber, allows local governments to designate a social district containing a commons area where restaurants and bars could obtain a permit so patrons could consume alcohol in these commons areas, with certain conditions. House Bill 5811, sponsored by Rep. Anthony, would allow a qualified licensee to fill and sell qualified containers with liquor for consumption off the premises, with certain conditions.

Also recently passed by the Legislature and on their way to the Governor are House Bills 5761 and 5810, both sponsored by Rep. James Lower. These bills allow qualifying property owners who have experienced economic hardship because of COVID-19 until March 1, 2021 to pay their summer 2020 property tax. Interest in the delinquent property taxes would not accrue until June 1, 2021.

Businesses will have more time to pay sales, use, and withholding taxes under Senate Bills 935, sponsored by Sen. Kevin Daley; 936, sponsored by Sen. Jim Runestad; and 937, sponsored by northern Michigan Sen. Curt Vanderwall.  The bills allow businesses negatively impacted by the crisis to make March-August SUW payments over six months. These bills are on their way to the Governor.

Social Districts & Liquor to Go

The Northern Michigan Chamber Alliance submitted feedback to the Michigan Liquor Control Commission on how to support rural northern Michigan restaurants and bars during the COVID-19 crisis and through recovery. The Alliance’s recommendations included allowing for restaurants and bars to sell liquor to go and for expanded outdoor seating so patrons can socially distance  

Last week the State House Regulatory Reform Committee took testimony and voted on two bills supported by the Northern Michigan Chamber Alliance and numerous chambers from across Michigan. House Bills 5781 & 5811 were passed out of committee and are now in a second House committee, Ways and Means. House Bill 5781 sponsored by State Rep. Webber allows local governments to designate a social district containing a commons area where restaurants and bars could obtain a permit so patrons could consume alcohol in these commons areas, with certain conditions. House Bill 5811 sponsored by Rep. Anthony would allow a retailer licensed for on-premises alcohol consumption to fill and sell qualified containers with liquor for consumption off the premises, with certain conditions.

The Northern Michigan Chamber Alliance is supportive of these bills to help our restaurants and bars get back to businesses and safely serve patrons. We will keep you up-to-date on any movement.


Northern Michigan Region businesses look forward to June 10 reopening

NORTHERN MI – The Northern Michigan Chamber Alliance recognized the efforts of northern Michigan’s business owners, workforce, and community members to stay safe to stay open as Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced the June 10 move of regions 6 and 8 to Phase 5 of the MI Safe Start Plan and the reopening of all businesses. The expanded reopening recognizes the efforts made by businesses and their customers to set an example for the state since the May 22 reopening of restaurants, bars, and retailers with capacity limits and other safety precautions.

“This announcement is welcomed by our rural northern Michigan communities and is a testament to our businesses’ commitment to keeping employees and customers safe during the reopening process,” said Stacie Bytwork, the chairperson of the Alliance and president of the Manistee Area Chamber of Commerce. This announcement comes just days after the Alliance sent a letter to Governor Whitmer offering northern Michigan communities as partners in continued reopening. “We look forward to more businesses having open signs in their windows,” she continued.

“Chambers and economic development organizations within the Alliance have been working hard to support the tireless reopening efforts of our business communities,” said Amy Clickner, vice-chairperson of the Alliance and CEO of the Lake Superior Community Partnership. She continued, “We know there is still much work to do and we will continue to serve as the business voice and advocate on behalf of northern Michigan.”

The Alliance has continued advocacy efforts to ensure the rural northern Michigan voice is included in reopening discussions. On June 3, the Alliance sent a letter to Governor Whitmer stating, “Our businesses have taken the task of reopening seriously. Not only do we realize that northern Michigan is showcasing reopening efforts for the entire state, but we also know that the reopening of additional businesses is dependent on the success of our current efforts. The rural northern Michigan business community is eager to welcome our cinemas, fitness centers, hair salons, bowling alleys, and more, back online.”

The Northern Michigan Chamber Alliance continues to support chambers, economic development organizations, and their member businesses by providing timely information and advocating for rural business needs at the state and federal levels. The Alliance is engaged in delivering industry-specific information, access to funding opportunities, and working to ensure the northern Michigan voice is represented in reopening discussions. More information on the Alliance’s latest work can be found at

About the Northern Michigan Chamber Alliance:

The Northern Michigan Chamber Alliance is a coalition of chambers and economic development organizations in Alpena, Benzie, Boyne City, Cadillac, Charlevoix, Cheboygan, East Jordan, Elk Rapids, Gaylord, Harbor Springs, Leelanau County, Manistee, Marquette, Petoskey, Sault Area, and Traverse City. The Alliance exists to advocate for rural northern Michigan and move forward rural-centric business policy.


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