Promoting economic growth in the region
By Alicia frank
The Bay County Growth Alliance began as Forward Bay County Inc. which was chartered in April 1974 as one of the first county-wide economic development organizations in Michigan. Since opening its doors, the organization has increased its focus to be a wide-reaching nonprofit economic development corporation using funds from business park development and other economic development loans to provide financing for area businesses and nonprofit organizations. Great Lakes Bay Magazine sat down to talk with President and CEO of the Bay County Growth Alliance Christopher Girard.
What is the purpose of the Bay County Growth Alliance in the Great Lakes Bay Region?
The mission of the Bay County Growth Alliance is to promote economic growth by offering financial assistance and support services to the business community and nonprofit sector. The Bay County Growth Alliance is one of Michigan’s longest-serving economic development Michigan organizations.
How long have you been with the growth alliance, and what is your role?
I have served as a board member since 2012, and currently I am the board president. Like most nonprofits, it’s a volunteer position with the responsibility of working with our board of directors to manage the operations of the organization. We strive hard to meet our mission to promote economic growth and community enhancement of our region.
What makes the alliance the best-kept secret in the Great Lakes Bay Region?
I believe we are the best-kept secret because not many people know the investments in the community BCGA has made to help support our region’s continued growth. The BCGA has acted as a construction lender and provided participation funding for such prominent projects as the restoration of the historic Pere Marquette Depot, the Dow Bay Area Family YMCA, and the Mill End Lofts. Last year, we partnered with CMU-Research Corp., Bay Area Chamber of Commerce and Bay Future to establish Pitch a Dream Entrepreneur Competition. We had over 40 individuals or established companies compete for over $25,000 in cash and prizes.
What do you enjoy most about your job, and how is this making an impact on the community?
As the new board president, I look forward to working on expanding our community collaborations to put our investable resources to work. All our members of the board of directors are committed to partnerships that create community vibrancy in our region.
What is the most rewarding thing about your job?
Seeing projects come to completion that wouldn’t have happened otherwise without the BCGA is one of the most rewarding aspects of being part of this great organization.