CEDAM’s Office Manager (Jessica AcMoody) and Manager of Membership and Communications (Tiffany Lemieux-McKissic) spent a week in the Upper Peninsula meeting with CEDAM members and discussing challenges and opportunities in the community development industry.

Here are some highlights from the trip:

Jessica AcMoody, Joni Talentino, and Tiffany Lemieux-Mckissic at Sault Tribe Housing Authority.

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The first day we met with Joni Talentino, the Director of the Sault Tribe Housing Authority in Kincheloe. Joni’s organization manages over 400 rental units and 9 different housing sites across the entire Upper Peninsula. They have a successful IDA program that has been running for just over 18 months. They are also very busy with rehabilitation and weatherization projects with over 100 contractors assisting them in their efforts.

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Seniors outside a Lost Creek home from AMCAB's senior housing project.

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Day two we stopped by the Alger Marquette Community Action Board (AMCAB) and met with Anne Engman. Anne took us on a tour of the beautiful Lost Creek Senior housing project that AMCAB developed. Anne also shared with us that AMCAB is very busy with their weatherization efforts and hopes to assist nearly 100 homeowners in 2010.

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Marquette Meats was able to expand their product line thanks to a Northern Initiatives loan.

On the second and third day we spent time with our Innovator of the Year co-winners, Northern Initiatives. We had the dual mission of learning more about their work, and filming for the video we are creating for them. Dennis West, Lisa Nyquist, Chris Rector, and Amanda Blondeau met with us about their micro loan program, Business Enterprise Center, and their Regional Strategies work. Lisa informed us that there is now an online application option for businesses that are applying for loans under $50,000. Chris shared with us their work on Great Waters (an award winning collaboration effort and marketing campaign for the Eastern Upper Peninsula) and new efforts to create similar collaborative efforts in the Western Upper Peninsula. Amanda Blondeau and her fantastic intern team told us about their Business Enterprise Center, where small businesses have access to many tools such as QuickBooks training, website development, market research, and other training and technical assistance. We loved learning more about Northern Initiatives and the great work they are doing for Northern Michigan – look for their video soon!

Calumet Main Street

Next we went to copper country and met with Calumet Main Street manager, Tom Tikkanen. Tom gave us an awesome tour of downtown Calumet and filled us in on the rich history of the area (and for those of you interested, March 4 is the Copper Dog 150, an annual sled-dog race which begins in downtown Calumet). That evening we had dinner with Gail Ross and Amy McCloskey with the Hancock Housing Foundation and many other fantastic people from the Hancock-Houghton community (we even saw a double rainbow at dinner).

The next day we visited Gail Ross at the Hancock Housing Foundation on the eve of the groundbreaking for their new supportive housing development. Quincy Haven will feature 24 units of housing for people with mental disabilities. Congratulations on Quincy Haven, we can’t wait to see it when it is finished!

Last but not least, we stopped by the Dickinson Iron Community Service Agency (DICSA) in Iron Mountain. There we met with the new Executive Director, Michael Aschinger. He shared with us the many programs that DICSA offers to their two county service area, including weatherization, rehab, senior meal programs, emergency repair services, and much more.

Thank you so much to all of our Upper Peninsula members for your hospitality. We can’t tell you how excited and inspired we are by the work that you are doing. We will be back!

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