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New non-profit looks to boost economic development in Cass County

CASS COUNTY, Mich. -- The Economic Development Corporation of Cass County is launching a new non-profit to bring area business leaders together to trigger growth.

“My pitch, simply, is let’s improve Cass County,” said Troy Clay, the corporation’s chairman. “I mean, it’s very straightforward.”

From downtown Dowagiac to the city of Niles, there are signs of economic development and new opportunity everywhere in Cass County.

“If you don’t have the private sector involved, then you’re kind of missing the boat because they’re the ones we’re asking to stay in Cass County,” Clay said. “We’re asking them to continue to invest more in Cass County, so you need their voice at the table.”

That’s why the county’s economic development corporation recently voted to start a new non-profit called “The Business Partnership of Cass County, Michigan.”

It will be comprised of a board of 15 to 17 private sector business leaders in the area.

The goal is for them to come together to form a new strategy for the county to keep existing businesses where they are, attract new businesses, and improve the quality of life in Cass County.

Clay is not only the chairman overseeing the new group; he’s also the president and CEO of the Pokagon Tribe’s investment arm, Mno-Bmadsen.

“Those skilled people want to have good schools; they want to have a good place to live, crime-free and so forth, right?” Clay said. “So all this strategy comes together, and that’s how economic development helps to improve the area.”

Barkley Garrett of the Southwestern Michigan Economic Growth Alliance agrees.

He said about 60 to 80-percent of local job creation and new projects come from employers that are already in Cass County.

Because of this, he said strengthening relationships by creating a board of mostly private sector business leaders is key.

“They understand the needs of business,” Garrett said. “They understand the speed of business. And this will be a results-oriented board and a results-oriented staff.”

Garrett said the board will also hopefully help entice larger companies to come to Cass County to open up a branch or a plant in the area.

Clay said the goal is to assemble the board by 2018.

If you’re interested in joining, you can call Troy Clay at 269-605-9608.

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