Midland County and MBA Move Forward with U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Study

September 10, 2021

In August, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) presented its proposed scope, estimated costs and projected timeline for a hydrologic/hydraulic study of the Tittabawassee River Watershed to representatives of the County of Midland and the Midland Business Alliance (MBA) Advisory Committee on Infrastructure. At the Midland County Board of Commissioners meeting on September 7, both the Administration & Operations Committee and the Finance Committee recommended the approval of the agreement between USACE, the MBA Foundation and the County of Midland to begin this study.

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Legislation Update: U.S. House Funding Bills of Interest to Mid-Michigan

August 10, 2021

As the U.S. House of Representatives begins its August recess, several funding bills were passed at the end of July that could benefit mid-Michigan. According to Tony Stamas, President and CEO of the Midland Business Alliance (MBA), some of this funding for fiscal year 2022 could support local projects.

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MBA Advisory Committee on Infrastructure Connects with Legislators this Summer

August 2, 2021

In the summer months, legislators return home from Washington, D.C., during recesses. The Midland Business Alliance (MBA) Advisory Committee on Infrastructure recognized this as an important time to make contact with federal and state officials. Representatives of the committee have been reaching out with background information, the vision and the scope of flood mitigation and resiliency building in the mid-Michigan area.

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Now Accepting ATHENA Award Nominations

The ATHENA® Leadership Award celebrates exemplary leadership and is reflective of a quote by Plato: What is honored in a country will be cultivated there. Over 8,000 ATHENA awards have been presented since the program’s inception in 1982.

Presented to leaders across professional sectors, the ATHENA Leadership Award’s rich history, international scope and focus on mentorship development, supporting and honoring women leaders distinguish it as one of the most prestigious leadership awards one can receive.

The ideal candidate will embody the eight principles of enlightened leadership, including:

  • Living authentically
  • Constantly learning
  • Advocating fiercely
  • Acting courageously
  • Fostering collaboration
  • Building relationships
  • Giving back
  • Celebrating

THE CRITERIA

ATHENA Leadership Award nominees must meet each of the following three criteria:

  • Has achieved the highest level of professional excellence
  • Contributes time and energy to improve the quality of life for others in the community
  • Actively assists others, particularly women, in realizing their full leadership potential

QUALIFICATIONS

  • ATHENA Leadership Award nominees may represent either the profit or not-for-profit sector.
  • Previous ATHENA Leadership Award recipients are not eligible for nomination; however, past nominees may be nominated again.
  • There is no minimum or maximum age qualification that must be met by ATHENA Leadership Award nominees.

COMPLETING THE FORM

  • You are encouraged to work closely with your nominee to complete their nomination.
  • Nominations for the ATHENA Leadership Award must be submitted using this nomination form and format.
  • You may include supporting documents (articles, testimonials, etc.) with your completed nomination form.

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD THE NOMINATION FORM.

Electronic submission via email (elyons@MBAmi.org) is preferred. Or you may return completed forms to the Midland Business Alliance, 300 Rodd Street, Ste. 101, Midland MI 48640.

Nomination deadline is Wednesday, September 1, 2021.

The ATHENA Award recipient will be announced at the MBA Annual Meeting on October 14, 2021, held at the Great Hall Banquet and Convention Center.

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Donors Support MBA Advisory Committee on Infrastructure and Engineering Study on Flooding

July 6, 2021

Midland area community organizations and businesses have made donations to the Midland Business Alliance (MBA) Advisory Committee on Infrastructure in order to support an engineering study on flooding in the Tittabawassee River Watershed, as well as advocacy and communication efforts. The committee co-chairs, J.W. Fisher and Lee Ann Keller, shared the list of initial donors:

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MBA Provides Testimony on Flooding Issues to U.S. House Subcommittee

June 22, 2021

In early June, Tony Stamas submitted written testimony to the U.S. House Committee on Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies. Stamas was representing the Midland Business Alliance (MBA) as its President and CEO and wrote on behalf of the businesses and citizens of Midland County and the Great Lakes Bay Region (GLBR).

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Quadsil named ‘Best Silicone & Silane R&D Company’ for 2021

By Matt DeVries

Quadsil, located on the southeast side of Midland just south of Bay City Rd, was the proud recipient of some hardware at the end of April. They were named “Best Silicone & Silane Research & Development Company for 2021 by Global Health & Pharma’s Biotechnology Awards.

It was the sixth year of GHP’s annual awards as they continue to highlight the pioneers within the biotechnology space.

“GHP is proud to recognize and acknowledge the innovative pioneers and dedicated leaders across the sector, including everything from chemists, clinicians and researchers, to manufacturers, consultants and those providing peripherals and specialist services,” they stated.

This isn’t the first time Quadsil has received an honor such as this. Beginning in 2019, they’ve also won back-to-back-to-back awards in Silicone and Siloxane Technology for their chemistry in the development of SiArmor hand gel. It provides 4-8 hours of antimicrobial protection and breaks the chain in cross-contamination. This past year during the pandemic, it was even tested against the COVID-19 virus.

On behalf of the MBA, we want to congrautalte Quadsil on yet another outstanding acheivement. Below you can find the GHP article announcing their award.

A research and development lab based in Michigan, QuadSil Inc is an innovative leading the heart of some of the world’s most faced paced scientific developments, and it benefits from working within such a dynamic and diverse industry. It uses this to serve its client base with dedication and diligence. With a customer-first business model that forges a vital part of what makes it stand head and shoulders above its competitors, offering informative services relating to its products as well voice in the silicone and silane focused field. A consultancy expert centre as well as a rigorous and forward-thinking R&D company, QuadSil creates antimicrobial products that push it to the forefront of the market. Its main concerns lie in the advancement of its products via product prototyping, scale-up manufacture, and consultancy operations that forever bring QuadSil back to the priority of advancing science and technology specifically relating to the materials it uses. It is a direct manufacturer and seller of a wide variety of antimicrobial products, too – bringing in another revenue stream that supports its research. Its motto is ‘experience the difference’. By  following this, it has been able to create products under its value proposition that are exemplary and intelligent.

It has also benefitted from rapid development and scale-up growth, expanding quickly as a company until it made itself a solid competitor in its field. QuadSil takes the rigor of its research very seriously, and so has funneled significant effort into developing processes that are watertight and effective. Through having a standardized way of working like this, it can cut back on the risk of error and more comfortably guarantee the standard of the resulting product. Operating out of the US puts it in as protectable product prototype development.

All its operations are also backed up by its philosophy and mission statement, to first and foremost see to its client’s needs, and to educate them on silicon and silane. It does this by focusing on what about its operations result in success and adapting to do more of what works. With this method, it has successfully cultivated a strong client base, one that grows ever more informed as QuadSil itself develops as a company, in a positive feedback loop that benefits all involved. The factors and required competencies that it prizes amongst its team, all of whom are highly qualified and extremely efficient, drive its innovations ever forward and inspire it to continually strive for better. It is after all their ideation and vision that guides the direction of the business. In this way, QuadSil is first and foremost powered by ambition.

As it hits targets and milestones along its roadmap to success, QuadSil ensures the rapid development of information and product creation ingenuity that matches the speed of the scientific world itself. With updates being implemented daily and the field generating new better processes on a similarly exponential timescale, this company retains a commitment to keeping its finger on the pulse of its sector, ensuring it can remain competitive. All of this helps QuadSil to achieve its vision of establishing a global presence. It is currently cementing itself thoroughly in the niche of US silicone and silate product R&D, but is in the perfect position to begin future expansion. To do this, it will be focusing on developing Si based prototypes for  conversion to protectable commercial product forms for its clients. Development of products in QuadSil’s lab offers a client opportunity, chemical and engineering expertise, strict performance analysis, technology options, and protection through its strict application of regulations; and it will of course continue to do this even after its expansion.

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Midland Business Alliance, MidMichigan Health & Midland County Department of Public Health Partner to Bring “Vaccines on the Road”

In an effort to increase vaccination rates around Midland County, the Midland County Department of Public Health, MidMichigan Health and Midland Business Alliance (MBA) have partnered to offer “Vaccines on the Road.”

This program will bring vaccines directly on-site to local employers who wish to participate.

“Getting as many people vaccinated as possible is critical to reopening our economy,” said Tony Stamas, MBA President and CEO. “We know that time off work and travel time are some of the common reasons for employees to not get vaccinated, so we hope these clinics will eliminate those barriers.”

Medical professionals from MidMichigan Health or the Health Department will be on hand to give a short presentation with information about the safety of the COVID-19 vaccination to ease any fears those considering vaccination have.

“We believe that the currently available COVID vaccines are safe and effective,” said Lydia Watson, M.D., senior vice president and chief medical officer, MidMichigan Health. “They have gone through the most intensive safety monitoring in US history. We recommend getting vaccinated if you are eligible!”

Lastly, as one last form of incentive, those who receive the vaccine will get a $25 gift card to a local restaurant.

“We need to get a significant proportion of the population immune to COVID-19 in order to keep the spread of disease low,” said Dr. Catherine M Bodnar, medical director for the Midland County Department of Public Health. “To accomplish this, people who are eligible for the vaccine need to get fully vaccinated.”

Employers interested in hosting a vaccine clinic can contact Jim Reaume at jreaume@mbami.org or (989) 839-9522.

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Midland Business Alliance President Provides Testimony to U.S. House Appropriations Subcommittee on GLBR Flooding Issues

In early May, Tony Stamas submitted written testimony to the U.S. House Committee on Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies. Stamas was representing the Midland Business Alliance (MBA) as its President and CEO and wrote on behalf of the businesses and citizens of Midland County and the Great Lakes Bay Region (GLBR).

In the testimony, Stamas explained the levels of damage from the May 2020 flooding and dam breaches, as well as the history of flooding in the Tittabawassee River Watershed. The testimony included an overview of the losses, the rebuilding efforts and the continuing progress in the GLBR.

“Following the May 2020 flood event, and the subsequent major disaster declaration, we have benefited greatly from the continued support of the Corps of Engineers, FEMA, USDA, NOAA and EPA,” started the testimony. “None of our recovery efforts to date would have been possible without our federal government partners, including the remarkable efforts of Representative John Moolenaar, Senator Debbie Stabenow, Senator Gary Peters, and members of the bipartisan Michigan congressional delegation.”

The Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies has jurisdiction over the Department of Energy, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers-Civil and other federal agencies. Due to the pandemic, testimony for the subcommittee’s Fiscal Year 2022 Public Witness Hearing was requested in writing and will be printed in the subcommittee’s permanent record.

Stamas and the MBA asked the subcommittee to support greater funding for the Corps of Engineers and to urge the Corps “to participate and coordinate as an essential federal stakeholder, with other federal partners, on developing and supporting measures to mitigate the severity of future flood events to protect Midland and the GLBR.”

The MBA Board of Directors recently created the MBA Advisory Committee on Infrastructure (ACI).

“The focus of this task force is on finding options – through community involvement and the advice of experts – to help mitigate the frequency and severity of flooding in Midland and the GLBR,” said J.W. Fisher, MBA Board of Directors and ACI Chair.

The committee is made up of MBA board members, members of the community at large, an MBA staff representative, and representatives from the Four Lakes Task Force, Midland County and the City of Midland (ex officio).

“As the advisory committee makes progress on initial planning, more information will be coming in the weeks ahead,” said Fisher.
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Midland Business Alliance Forms Advisory Committee to Help Mitigate Long-Term Flooding Issues

Businesses and residents of Midland County and the Great Lakes Bay Region have a long history of dealing with flooding. To take a deeper look at legacy flooding challenges and related sanitary sewer issues, the Midland Business Alliance (MBA) has formed a special advisory committee.

The MBA Advisory Committee on Infrastructure is charged with determining how best to work with local, state and federal partners to address longstanding issues that impact citizens, the business community and economic development.

“We are approaching the anniversary of last May’s devastating flooding and dam breaches, but many of us remember that unforgiving rains and floods have occurred in the Midland area in 1986, 1996, 2013 and 2017, as well as 2020,” said J.W. Fisher, Committee Chair. “The dam breaches obscured the fact that a significant flood event was already in progress last year.”

“The floods clearly have affected citizens. Added to this, there is the negative impact on jobs, economic growth, property values and tax revenues in the Midland area,” said Tony Stamas, MBA President & CEO. “While we don’t pretend that we can eliminate flooding completely, we believe the MBA Advisory Committee on Infrastructure can focus on ultimately finding ways and providing recommendations to help mitigate the frequency and severity of flooding.”

The committee is made up of MBA board members, members of the community at large, an MBA staff representative, and representatives from the County and City of Midland (ex officio). The committee will report back regularly to the MBA President and CEO.The MBA Advisory Committee on Infrastructure includes:

  • Committee Chair: J.W. (James) Fisher (Fisher Contracting, President)
  • Noel Bush (former City of Midland Utilities Director)
  • Mike Erickson (MidMichigan Health, VP Facilities and Construction)
  • Bridgette Gransden (County of Midland, Administrator/Controller) (ex officio)
  • Lee Johnston (Johnston Contracting, President)
  • Brad Kaye (City of Midland, City Manager) (ex officio)
  • Lee Ann Keller (Omni Tech International, President and CEO)
  • Dave Kepler (Four Lakes Task Force, President) (ex officio)
  • Sharon Mortensen (Midland Area Community Foundation, President and CEO)
  • Bill Schuette (Community Volunteer)
  • Tony Stamas (Midland Business Alliance, President and CEO)

“The key ingredients to reducing the severity of flooding in the Midland area will be building widespread community involvement and participation as we move forward. We have so much talent in our town,” Stamas said. “As we further involve and engage our community, from all walks of life, more and better ideas and solutions will emerge to build a stronger Midland and region.”

Stamas also stated that further information will be coming in the weeks ahead as the advisory committee makes progress on initial planning and identifies goals and objectives.

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Retain Workforce with Cross Training

By Amy DeGeer Roten

Right now, businesses are struggling with workforce retention. Many business owners faced this issue before COVID, and COVID has made it worse.

Pre-COVID Workforce Retention 

Pre COVID, the challenge around workforce retention, at least in Midland, was in large part due to two issues: 1) full employment, and 2) the skills gap. Simply stated, full employment is when unemployment falls below 4%, which means that pretty much everyone who wants to work is working. The skills gap is defined by the Brookings Institute as, “a fundamental mismatch between the skills that employers rely upon in their employees, and the skills that job seekers possess.” The skills gap is a known issue addressed by many organizations, including the State of Michigan. 

The Coronavirus response to the pandemic has added layers of complexity and complication to the workforce attraction and retention struggle, making it much more than full employment and skills gap issues.

COVID and the COVID Response

Workforce retention challenges have increased due to COVID-19. Many employers claim no one wants to work anymore. Fear of COVID increased unemployment benefits, multiple Federal stimulus packages are just a few reasons for that. An article on NPR concluded:

“The problem is that a lot of those openings are in industries that require in-person work, like construction, delivery services, or warehousing — exactly the types of jobs now being shunned by many Americans in the midst of a fearful pandemic.”

A Detroit Free Press article stated published last January stated:

“Employment plummeted during the coronavirus pandemic that began in March, but due mostly to $1,200 federal stimulus checks and $600 per week federal supplements to state unemployment insurance checks, personal income and retail spending rose.”

What Employers Can Do

There are many benefits of cross-training your employees – one of which is increased engagement and retention. It may not solve all your workforce retention or shortage issues, but it can ease some of the secondary challenges you’re facing, such as productivity and operational costs.

The BizLibrary.com article,  Cross Training Employees explains the pros and cons of cross-training. It offers some cross-training programs and a free e-book on how to cross-train effectively and identify skills gaps.

The MBA supports business workforce and talent issues with our talent programs and initiatives. Contact Emily Lyons at elyons@mbami.org for more information.

For more resources on workforce cross-training, email mba@mbami.org

 

 

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Seven Steps for Strategic Marketing Communications That Grow Business

By Amy DeGeer Roten

You’ve developed a great product and accomplished the Herculean task of starting a business. But ultimately, the success of your business will depend on your ability to convince people to choose you over the competition. Growing a business comes down to the ability to sell. A comprehensive understanding of your products, your competition, and your consumers will help you create strategic marketing communications that inform, educate, and convince.

A marketing communications strategy will summarize how to reach your customers. It will help define the messages that will create engagement and build a loyal customer base. Essentially, it establishes a path between your company and the markets you want to penetrate, i.e., your customers. It builds your ideal customers’ top-of-mind awareness for your products or services and defines the actions by which to market your products.

Whether you’re going to hire an agency or hunker down and write the strategy yourself, the seven tips below will help you get organized and ready to move forward.

#1: What: What does your business do? What do your customers care about? Answer those two questions with a short phrase that summarizes what you do, and how you are special, different, and better than the competition.

This phase is your Unique Selling Proposition. It will help you develop a strategy for your brand that aligns with what your customers want and need. The USP is the foundation for your marketing strategy, key messaging, copywriting, target audience identification, and more.

Here is an example of a strong USP:

Death Wish Coffee

We strive for the best tasting and highest quality organic and fair-trade beans in every bag. Our processes are USDA certified and we have committed to sustainability throughout our products. We offer a 100%, no-BS guarantee: If this isn’t the strongest coffee you’ve ever tried, we’ll gladly give you a refund.

#2: Who: Who are your customers and your competition? Customers: Identify who your customers are to create groups that have specific characteristics in common, including why they spend money with you. These are your target audiences. Once you know your target audiences, who they are, and why they buy your product, you know what to talk about to keep them engaged and coming back for more. You will also find out if they’re not happy with you, and what you might want to change to meet their needs.

Competition: Who else does what you do? Why and how are you better? You cannot beat the competition by offering the same thing. Gather data and background on your competition so you know what to do and what not to do. Find the gaps or holes your competition does not fill and fill them.

#3 How: How are you going to sell your product? Brick and mortar storefront?

Will you sell via eCommerce such as your website, Amazon, or Facebook? Different customers shop in different places and will require different strategies. Understand where your customers shop and place your product in front of them.

#4 Where: Where do your target audiences prefer to get information? Where and how will they find you?

Email? Social Media? Publications? Television? Radio? Find out how your customers or potential customers prefer to receive communication so you can regularly talk to them.

#5 When: When is the best time to communicate? Timing is everything. When to communicate should be just as strategic as where to sell and what to say.

Is your product or service seasonal? What affects supply and demand? When are budgets planned? Do you have a loyal customer base or are people just learning about your business? The answers will help you build a strategy around “when” and “how often” to communicate.

Consistent message distribution will educate and inform customers, and establish a presence, build a reputation, and create brand recognition. Groups of message bursts, i.e., bi-weekly social media posts, will promote a target product, service, or event.

#6. Set goals. Marketing communications is not just fluff. It should do work. What do you want your communications

to do? Depending on the stage of your business, your answer may be to generate awareness, increase sales, increase event attendance, or move a product into a new market.

Here’s an example of high-level, marketing communication strategic goals:

Purpose:

To create awareness of the value and benefits of an XYZ company, and build interest, excitement, engagement in the product offering to boost holiday sales.

Goals for Q2 and Q3, 2021:

Improve online (web and social media) engagement by 3%

Increase website visits by 5%

Increase sales by 2%

#7. Analyze, evaluate, and update. The last step in the process is to analyze and evaluate the impact of your marketing communications – did it work? How well did it work? What didn’t work and why? Make adjustments to the tactic and try it again.

A marketing communications strategy is a living document. Target audience characteristics and needs change. The business environment changes. The economy changes. Consumer behaviors change. The marketing strategy must reflect those kinds of changes.

These seven steps will help you get organized and ready to pull a marketing communications strategy together.

If you hire an agency to write the strategy for you, working through the seven steps will put you way ahead of the game by eliminating the “discovery” phase. This will save you money and allow your agency to get straight to work.

For more resources on strategic marketing communications, contact aroten@mbami.org.

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U.S. and Michigan Chambers of Commerce Weigh In on Biden’s Infrastructure Plan

By Amy DeGeer Roten

Last week, the Biden Administration rolled out its Infrastructure Plan. The Plan asks for $2 Trillion, some of which will be used to rebuild America’s infrastructure.

Infrastructure projects are known to create jobs and foster economic growth. Repairing and upgrading America’s infrastructure generally has bipartisan support, however, opinions differ on how to fund these long-term projects.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Michigan Chamber of Commerce both shared opinions on the Plan. Please take a minute to read their statements:

Chamber of Commerce: Biden Infrastructure Plan ‘Dangerously Misguided’ (businessinsider.com)

Biden Administration Releases Infrastructure Plan – MI Chamber

The MBA is dedicated to advocating for all businesses in Midland County and the region and supports the  Build by the 4th initiative.

“We were pleased to sign on to the U.S. Chamber’s Build by the 4th initiative,” said MBA Vice President of Advocacy, Diane Middleton. “Our country direly needs upgrades to our infrastructure. I encourage readers to visit the web page for Build by the 4th and review the tenets that the U.S. Chamber is hoping to see in an infrastructure proposal. We will be watching the Biden Administration’s American Jobs Plan as it progresses through negotiations. I expect our members will have concerns about elements of the President’s new plan.”

 

 

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First-time Business Owners – Don’t Underestimate Demand

By Amy DeGeer Roten

A strange and fascinating phenomenon is happening in Midland.

Several new businesses over the last few years have opened their doors and found unusually high demand for their products. In fact, the demand is so high they run out of products and close early. You might think, “Wow! How awesome! They’re immediately a success!”

In reality, the opposite can be true. When you’re opening-day inventory is depleted due to unanticipated sales, it does communicate that you have a hot product. However, it may also communicate that you are unprepared and out of touch with your customers, which can be devastating.

One company that experienced this phenomenon never could ramp up to meet demand and within weeks, closed the doors forever. Imagine putting all your money and years of effort into a new business only to see it fail because demand couldn’t be met!

Most first-time business owners plan for little to no profit for the first several years. Furthermore, most don’t have the net assets and cash flow to quickly scale operations for a surge. So how can new, small business owners better forecast inventory and sales to align with potential demand?

Here are seven tips to make sure your new business isn’t overwhelmed by opening-day sales:

  1. Test the market validity to anticipate volume with a Google Ads campaign.
  2. Use the Google Keyword Tool and Google Trends to research competitor sales and anticipate demand.
  3. Set up a crowdfunding campaign to secure capital for your business startup. Most people today have heard of crowdfunding. Crowdfunding sites are platforms where business investors are solicited over the internet. Rocket Hub, Kickstarter, GoFundMe, or Indiegogo have been at it since 2014. Learn more about crowdfunding on these platforms to see if it fits your needs.
  4. Pilot your product with pre-orders to evaluate real-time demand, and generate cash flow and volume estimates. Here’s a quick and easy article to help you with tips 1 – 4.  Estimate volume by units and then forecast sales by multiplying the price by volume. Here’s a great article to walk you through it.
  5. Do not close early if you run out of product. Meegan Holland is a small business consultant and former VP of Marketing and Communications for the Michigan Retailers Association. “If operating hours have been advertised but they are closing early due to depleted inventory, DON’T CLOSE!” said Meegan. “Greet the customer, talk about how hot the product was, tell them you’ll order or make the product just for them, and give them some sort of perk to retain their business.” Meegan also suggests offering free delivery, a discount, or whatever it takes to keep new patrons happy. Be willing to special order unless you cannot fulfill that promise due to supply or vendor issues.
  6. Analyze the competition on Facebook (reviews, pricing, demand). Identify and promote your differentiator. There are several tools to help you do this. Here is an article to help you.

Successfully operating a small business is part research, part common sense, and part intuition. It also takes courage, passion, and risk. Avoid being overwhelmed by demand you can’t meet. Make sure to work through a few of the tips above to have an educated understanding of the inventory you will need to meet sales for your grand opening.

For more information or resources, contact aroten@mbami.org.  

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Community Organizations Come Together to Launch ReGrow Midland, Program to Assist Local Restaurants

During a time when local restaurants are struggling and many community members are finding it difficult to put food on their tables, a few local citizens and organizations have come together to launch ReGrow Midland.

ReGrow Midland, a pilot program of the Midland Business Alliance (MBA) and the Midland Area Community Foundation (MACF), is designed to provide low-cost, healthy meal options to the community while helping local restaurants rebound from extended closures and restrictions. This effort is a partnership with the MBA, Michigan Baseball Foundation (MBF), MACF and private citizens/investors.

“Our local restaurants need support right now more than ever,” said Tony Stamas, MBA President and CEO. “Although restrictions are beginning to ease, the past year has thrown them more challenges than anyone could have imagined. We are excited to be a part of this new program that supports restaurants and brings their staff back to work as well as helps those in need feed their families.”

Each week, distribution centers around Midland County will receive a quantity of nutritious meals to offer to the public. A suggested donation of $2 each is requested for those receiving meals.  In return, participating restaurants are able to retain their workforce and begin the process of re-growing their business.

“We are so appreciative of the community interest and engagement received to bring ReGrow Midland to life,” said David Ramaker, President of MBF. “We want to thank Downtown Restaurant Investments (DRI) and the Midland Country Club for partnering together to create and develop our menus, operating guidelines and running the initial pilot. We are very excited to launch a program that helps residents and restaurants alike. We also want to recognize the essential assistance provided by Senior Services of Midland County regarding nutritional analysis and council on the meal distribution options.”

In addition to supporting restaurants, ReGrow Midland plans to incorporate sourcing fresh produce and meats from local farmers. Additional details regarding the restaurant application process and timeline will be forthcoming. Those who wish to donate to the program can do so by visiting MACF’s website.

“One of the elements that makes for a thriving community is a vibrant economy, with restaurants being an important part of our local economy. Supporting our restaurants is critical during this time and, while doing that, we’re providing meals for those in need,” said Sharon Mortensen, President and CEO of MACF. “It’s a community win-win.”

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CDC Sponsors RightAnswer.com to Help Doctors Reduce Birth Defects

By Amy DeGeer Roten

A few years ago, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) identified a serious gap in quick access to databases for cross-referencing medications that potentially interfere or harm pregnancy.

The safety or risk profile for most medication interactions in pregnant women is either unknown or difficult to find. “Clinical trials don’t include pregnant women,” said Tad Crawford, RightAnswer Sales Director. Therefore, it is difficult for healthcare providers and women to weigh the risks and benefits of treatment options during pregnancy and lactation. “The issue was, the information from the databases was not finding its way into many doctors’ hands. We wanted to make sure they have it at their fingertips,” said Tad. “The CDC identified this as a problem and contacted the University of Washington who called on RightAnswer to initiate working work together to get this information into the hands of doctors so we can greatly reduce the risk of birth defects.”

A new technology and data delivery solution needed to be developed.

Closing the Information Gap

The ReproAnswer™ System, developed by Midland-based RightAnswer and the University of Washington, provides the solution. ReproAnswer System, funded with a Small Business Innovation Grants from the CDC, is a downloadable app that bridges this gap and supports healthcare providers as they assess medication risk with women of child-bearing age.

These developmental/reproductive toxicity databases provide risk information on prescription and over-the-counter medications, substance use, maternal infections and vaccines (such as coronavirus), and environmental and workplace exposures (such as ethylene oxide). The overarching goal is to decrease birth defects.

The infographic below contains key takeaways.

It’s Not Just for Doctors

“We also have a patient version of this that is free to the public. On the patient facing side, we have mother-to-baby fact sheets that are written for moms to help them understand medications and how they might interact with pregnancy. All they need to do is register and skip the free version for mother-to-baby information,” Tad said.

Medical professionals and moms-to-be can learn more at ReproAnswer.com or reach out to ReproAnswer@RightAnswer.com.

 

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Midland Blooms is Back for 2021, Corteva Agriscience Announced as Premier Business Sponsor

The Midland Business Alliance (MBA) is excited to announce that Midland Blooms will be back for 2021!

Additionally, Corteva Agriscience is announced as the premier business sponsor for the program. To recognize this new partnership, the MBA launched a new Midland Blooms logo featuring Corteva and will display signage along the planting route.

“Corteva’s Values are to Enrich lives, Stand tall, Be curious, Build together, Be upstanding, and Live safely,” said Sarah Brooks, Operations and Site Communications Manager. “Through this partnership with the MBA and Midland Blooms, Corteva and our employees are able to showcase these values. We are glad to be a part of the Midland Community and are proud support the Midland Blooms program that we look forward to each year.”

The MBA has coordinated the program since its inception in 1989 with the assistance of a volunteer committee comprised of community members and business representatives, as well as City staff members.

The program typically brings over 500 community residents and businesses together for a one-day volunteer service project planting flowers on Midland’s Eastman Avenue corridor providing community ownership residents can be proud of and a warm welcome the many visitors who visit our community. This year, marigolds will be planted on the 2.5 mile stretch on Eastman from Wackerly to Buttles.

“Midland is a beautiful community and the Midland Blooms program not only brings together residents, but is a source of pride for all of Midland throughout the summer,” said Tony Stamas, MBA President and CEO. “In what has been a challenging year, the bright flowers and major volunteer effort will bring some positivity and a sense of normalcy to the community. We are thrilled to bring back Blooms this year.”

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, this year’s event will be slightly different than in the past. While the event is entirely outside, we still ask that volunteer groups stay distanced from other groups and wear masks during planting. There will still be a free breakfast for volunteers at Primrose Retirement Communities, but it is currently anticipated to be a drive-thru offering.

The event is planned to take place on May 22, but if there should be an executive order or any local, state or federal directive be issued that would necessitate a change or cancellation, the MBA will be complying with said order to keep everyone’s safety a top priority.

The MBA would like to thank those who have committed to participate in Midland Blooms this year as well as the many organizations and businesses that provided resources to make this year’s program possible, including Corteva Agriscience, the program’s premier business sponsor. The MBA couldn’t implement this program without the City of Midland, Boehler’s Greenhouses, Primrose Retirement Communities, Garber Chevrolet, Midland Ford Lincoln, and Coffee Chaos. We are grateful to the Charles J. Strosacker Foundation, Rollin M. Gerstacker Foundation, Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation, the Dow Foundation, CBM Services and Great Lakes Bay Regional Convention & Visitors Bureau for funding the project as well as Hemlock Semiconductor Operation who donated to offset the cost of flowers this year.

Do you love Midland Blooms? An endowment fund has been established with MACF to keep Blooms going strong. Please consider supporting the program on May 4 during Give Local Midland. Visit www.givelocalmidland.org to learn more.

If you are interested in volunteering for Midland Blooms, click here.

On behalf of the Midland Business Alliance and the Midland Blooms Planning Committee, we would like to thank the community for their support and commitment to Midland Blooms.

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The First Five: Elements for a Small Business Marketing Strategy

By Amy DeGeer Roten

Growing your business requires spreading awareness about your products and services. Spreading awareness should not be done on the fly, but strategically. A marketing strategy will summarize how to reach your customers and the messages that will engage and keep them.

Information and data should be the foundation on which to build a path between your company, the market you want to penetrate, and your customers.

Start your marketing strategy by answering these five questions:

#1: What: What are you selling? 

Marketing only works if the product or service provides value and is what it claims to be.

Understanding your product, its features, benefits, and value is the key to your marketing effort. It is the basis for your unique selling proposition (USP). The USP is a short phrase that summarizes why your business is special. This phase will help you develop key messages that align with your customers.   

Why do your customers like your product? Why do they continue to come back for more? You should be able to answer those questions, in detail, without hesitation. The answer is the foundation for all marketing and frankly, the success of your organization.

#2: Who: Understand your customers and competition. 

Customers: Identifying and defining your customers  allows you to create groups that have specific characteristics in common, including why they spend money with you. These are your target audiences. Once you know your target audiences, who they are, and why they buy your product, you know what to talk about to keep them engaged and coming back for more. You will also find out if they’re not happy and what you might want to change to better meet their needs.

Competition: Who else does what you do? Why and how are you better? You cannot beat the competition by offering the same thing. Gather data and background on your competition to find gaps or holes and then fill them. This is call differentiation.

Differentiating your business from the competition is important because customers need a reason to choose you. An example of differentiation is Jimmy John’s “freaky fast” claim (which their delivery people prove every day). They don’t claim to be tastier or fresher or cheaper than the other sandwich shops. They are faster. 

#3 How: How are you going to sell your product? 

Brick and mortar? eCommerce such as your website, Amazon, or Facebook? Different customers shop in different places and will require different strategies. Understand where your customers shop and place your product in front of them.

#4 Where: Where do your target audiences get their information?

Email? Television? Radio? Social Media? Publications? Find out how your customers or potential customers prefer to receive communication so you can regularly talk to them where they are.

#5 When: Timing is everything. 

When to communicate should be just as important as where to sell and what to say. Consistent monthly message distribution helps inform customers and establishes a presence, reputation, and brand recognition. Groups of message bursts, i.e., bi-weekly social media posts, are better for promoting a target product, service, or event. Here are a few more things to consider: 

  • Is your product or service seasonal?
  • What affects supply and demand?
  • When are your budgets planned?
  • What is your customer’s budget schedule?
  • Do you have a loyal customer base or are people just learning about your business?

Never stop improving.

Marketing is never static. A strategy will set objectives and guide how your business makes sales, but remember that this is a living document. Target audience characteristics and needs change. The business environment changes. The marketing strategy must reflect those kinds of changes.  Review and update it at least once a year or more if you’re not getting results. 

For more marketing strategy information or resources, please reach out to aroten@mbami.org.

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