The latest on COVID-19 & the Federal Mandate

The new variant has been detected in at least two dozen countries, including the United States, where a case was detected in California on Wednesday. And if you are traveling beyond our borders anytime soon, pay close attention to an announcement expected by the Biden administration on Thursday. It is anticipated that anyone coming into the U.S. will be required to test a day prior to their arrival; this pertains even to U.S. citizens and vaccinated persons, and may even be broadened to require post-arrival testing.

We have news on the federal mandate front, as well. As we have been reporting, the federal Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS), or “federal vaccine mandate,” was recently paused until the 6th U.S. Circuit Court delivers a ruling. Earlier this week, decisions handed down in two other, separate courts also presented speed bumps for the federal vaccine mandate:

  1. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has been at least temporarily blocked from its vaccine mandate on healthcare workers. This comes from a U.S. District Judge in Louisiana, and could stand to impact up to two million unvaccinated health care workers. Together with a similar ruling by a court in St. Louis, this stoppage applies to all of the U.S.
  2. In a Kentucky-based U.S. District court, a judge has determinedthat government contracts may not include language requiring the contractors’ employees to be vaccinated. However, this determination currently applies only to Kentucky, Ohio, and Tennessee, while at least a dozen other such lawsuits have been filed across the country.

Much more to come from courtrooms on the federal vaccine mandate. We will keep you informed on decisions that impact the business community.

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SUSPENDED: Federal Vaccine Mandate

We have kept you apprised of developments around the federal vaccine mandate, which is a component of President Biden’s “Path Out of the Pandemic” plan. The mandate, which comes from the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) in the form of an Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS), will apply to businesses with at least 100 employees, with the potential to apply to two million Michigan residents.

Our November 4th and November 11th Weekly Updates featured the mandate and related information. The Midland Business Alliance will offer an event this coming Monday to explain the complicated mandate and what employers need to know. Keep in mind that the Biden administration is considering eventually extending this mandate to employers with less than 100 employees, as well.

Congressman John Moolenaar (R-Midland) recently introduced legislation that would disable OSHA from using federal funds to carry out the federal vaccine mandate. We applaud the Congressman for this strategy.

Just yesterday, it was announced that OSHA is suspending enforcement of the mandate in response to a court order that OSHA halt implementation & enforcement until further court order. At this moment, no one can project just how long that court process will take. At the same time, it is unclear how long businesses will have to “gear up” for the mandate, if the courts ultimately uphold the mandate.

So, what led up to this suspension? On November 5th, the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued a stay, which essentially “pauses” the order, but doesn’t change anything within the rules or timelines. The Department of Justice responded with a request to lift the stay, but the Court reaffirmed their decision on November 12th. Since lawsuits against the mandate had been filed in all 12 Circuit Courts around the nation, one Court was randomly selected to hear the legal challenges to the mandate. The 6th U.S. Circuit Court was selected, but the timeline for that process is unknown. Of course, the case could ultimately go to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Last week, the MBA joined the Listen to MI Business coalition to officially oppose the mandate. Additionally, in anticipation of the mandate’s implementation, we joined in with several dozen Michigan Chambers in requesting that Governor Whitmer provide funding to support businesses’ purchase of testing supplies for their employees who decline to get vaccinated.

Monday’s Issues & Answers programming will feature Steve Palazzolo of Warner Norcross + Judd LLP. Mr. Palazzolo will provide a comprehensive overview of the mandate. We believe this information is more important than ever, with the uncertainty of if or when businesses could once again be facing a vaccine mandate. Register online by Friday to attend this event.

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Surveying Begins Tuesday on Midland County Rivers

October 29, 2021

River surveying will begin on Tuesday, November 2, to collect the necessary data for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) hydrologic/hydraulic study of the Tittabawassee River Watershed. This study is being sponsored locally by the County of Midland and the Midland Business Alliance (MBA) Advisory Committee on Infrastructure as part of the flood reduction project. Midland Business Alliance - Advisory Committee on Infrastructure

Area residents should be aware that surveying crews will be seen regularly around the rivers in the months ahead.

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MBA Announces Top Employers in Midland County for 2021

The Midland Business Alliance (MBA) has compiled the list of the top employers in Midland County for 2021, starting with the largest.

Please note that Dow’s number of 4,003 is based on numbers provided in 2019 for Midland County only. The 2021 number provided by Dow is 9,727 for the entire Great Lakes Bay Region and includes both employees and contractors.

Business Name
MidMichigan Health 4878
Dow 4003
Midland Public Schools 1039
Dupont 697
Corteva Agriscience 664
Greater Midland 564
TCF Bank 535
Northwood University 501
City of Midland 467
Three Rivers Corporation 396
Walmart 327
Midland County 324
Meijer 303
Huhtamaki Plastics 257
International Flavors & Fragrances 250
Bierlein Companies 236
Trinseo 230
Fisher Companies 200
Bullock Creek Schools 195
Robinson Industries 150

“In assembling the list of largest employers in our community, we’re grateful to see growth, industry adaptation and development throughout Midland County,” said Tony Stamas, MBA President & CEO. “The past two years have presented unique challenges, and the MBA team continues to adapt as well, remaining nimble in our support of legacy industry, new endeavors and Midland’s latest innovators ensuring our businesses have the best opportunity to thrive.”

The MBA Foundation serves the County of Midland as its Economic Development organization (EDO) focused on attracting, growing and supporting businesses throughout our community. The MBA works closely with the County of Midland, City of Midland, City of Coleman, Village of Sanford and throughout the entire county in these initiatives.

Bridgette Gransden, Midland County Administrator/Controller, said about the list, “We are encouraged to see that the Largest Employers for 2021 reflects a strong mix of businesses and industries across Midland County. From grassroots, locally-owned and operated companies to Fortune 100 companies, our business community is diverse and growing.”

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Midland Business Alliance Honors Local Businesses During CELEBRATE Event

In lieu of a traditional annual meeting, the Midland Business Alliance (MBA) honored the business community during last night’s CELEBRATE event. The event was hosted by Diane Postler-Slattery of MidMichigan Health and included live music from the Roberston Brothers Band as well as some unique awards.

“The past year was challenging for everyone, especially businesses,” said Tony Stamas, President & CEO of the MBA. “We wanted to take some time to celebrate our business community and recognize some of the great things they were able to do in the face of difficulty. It’s nice to take a step back and applaud those who have gone above and beyond.”

Unique Awards Represent the Times

To recognize all of the innovation and creativity of the past 18 months, the MBA created some new awards for this event.

The Abundance of Caution Award recognized a business that, despite the limitations of the pandemic, uncertainty brought on by the flood and the ever-changing landscape of restrictions and requirements, provided heroic leadership. This award was given to MidMichigan Health.

Next was the You’re on Mute Award, which was given to a business which persevered to make sure their voice was heard through it all through all the hardships and difficulty. The recipient of this award was The Creek Bar & Grill.

The Pivot award was given to a business who made an adjustment to their service, offering or business model in order to serve their customers and community. Downtown Restaurant Investments was the winner of this award.

Valued Business Leaders Honored

Some classic awards were presented at the event, too, including Entrepreneur of the Year, Advocate of the Year. Two awards previously announced but not celebrated in-person were Eric Forshee, winner of the Leadership Midland Alumni Association Leader of the Year Award and Greg Crawford, MBA’s Ambassador of the Year.

Three Diamonds Bridal was the recipient of the Entrepreneur of the Year Award which recognizes a new business less than three years old which exemplifies growth.

J.W. Fisher and Lee Ann Keller Rouse were recognized as Advocates of the Year for their work as co-chairs of the MBA’s Advisory Committee of Infrastructure.

The MBA’s Chairman’s Award was presented to DuPont by former MBA Chair Jon Lynch. DuPont was honored for their engagement in the community, including volunteerism, support of local events, donating building materials, bringing laundry services to rural Midland County by providing appliances to Midland Missionary Church, and much more.

The last award of the evening was the ATHENA Award, which was presented to Dr. Betty B. Jones for striving toward the highest level of personal and professional accomplishment, excelling in her field and devoting time and energy to the community in a meaningful way, while forging a path of leadership for other women.

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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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