Chamber Corner - July 2018

by Donna Claar

Farmer’s Market:

A chamber subcommittee was formed to explore the addition of a monthly “Open Market” for 2019 to be held on a weekday evening at the Rick Mears Amphitheater in Heritage Cultural Park to include the corner of West High Street. The Open Market concept would hold no restrictions on items for sale, within reason, and would include entertainment at the amphitheater.

The subcommittee will also work to put together a questionnaire to see if there is support for a collaboration with Sprout Box, an on-line subscription service that buys/ distributes local farm products. Pick up would be at the Union City Farm Market, which runs yearly from June through September on Saturdays from 9 - 1 A.M.

Recent vendors at our farm market have brought baked goods, produce to include tomatoes, beans, onions, blueberries, black walnuts and honey. Handmade items include crocheted and knitted items and slime for kids!

Election:

Elected for board seats effective August 2018: Chair Val Rossman of Pottery Rocks!; Vice Chair Sandra Silsby of Dove Ag Services; Second Chair Pattie Walter; Treasurer Marilyn Lepper; Secretary Kandice McRae of SMBT.

Farm to Fork:

Matt & Jennifer Milligan are the 2019 Farm to Fork Tractor Parade and Show chairpersons. Yes, we are excited to announce that this year’s Farm to Fork will include a tractor parade and show! Also new this year is the 2019 Hot Farmer Calendar! If you live in the greater Union City area, male or female, submit your hot farmer photo between now and September 29 to unioncitymi@gmail.com (or P.O. Box 42, Union City, MI 49094) and get in the running for the selections to be put in the 2019 Farm to Fork Hot Farmers Calendar! Hot Farmers should be ready and willing to strut their stuff the night of September 29 at the Farm to Fork potluck to assist in the selection of the top 12 for the calendar! Find a registration form at the Farm to Fork event on the Chamber of Commerce Facebook Page..

SWOT - Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats

Branch County acquired a grant to conduct an Economic and Community Development Strategy for the county with fifty percent funded by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation’s (MEDC) “Redevelopment Ready Communities” (RRC) Program and fifty percent being picked up by Branch County’s Economic Development Alliance (EDA).

Joe Borgstrom of Place and Main Advisors, LLC, contracted through the EDA, is conducting this study. Economic strategies are being developed for each of the four Branch County municipalities (Union City, Coldwater, Bronson, Quincy) as each community has it’s own niche. Results will be provided to area businesses and will contain a wealth of data. Included will be a plan of action for the county and each municipality, stating specific goals, a timeline (I believe over 3 to 5 years) and who is responsible for taking actions to reach those goals.

Top three Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats were identified for Union City. Strengths: Good village improvements (Library, Amphitheater, Heritage Water Trail, N Broadway Bridge); Traditional downtown; Union Lake. Weaknesses: Lack of DDA/ PSD; Lack of proper marketing; Village and township does not have a good working relationship. Opportunities: Fiber Optics/Wi-Fi; Actively market sites/properties; Garbage/Recycling uniformity. Threats: Close mindedness/resistance to change; Unfunded liabilities; Lack of housing.

What does a successful Union City look like? Mentioned were: Historic nature remains intact; Destination; Excellent Fiber Optics/Wi-Fi; Electric charging stations; Jobs; More families/students; Nightlife; Full storefronts/More businesses; Improved roads/ sidewalks; Niche community; Broaden staff; Community cooperation; Pride in community.

Donna Claar is a devoted promoter of Union City and its surrounding areas. She is currently the chamber of commerce secretary and administrates several social media sites about Union City. She can be reached at (269) 317-7723,unioncitymi@gmail.com or Union City, MI on Facebook. Watch for posts on Twitter at @UnionCityMI and Instagram at unioncitymi.