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Plymouth Park Fun Zone Renovation [Guest Post]

13 May

Fun Zone

By Stacey Urbani, City of Midland

Big things are happening in Midland and we’re excited to be part of it! After 20 years of children running and playing, the community will come together to renovate the Plymouth Park Fun Zone on June 4-8, 2014. It takes a lot of hands to renovate a playground and we could not do this without the help of volunteers and skilled professionals.

We are looking for volunteers to donate their time to help with the build, or provide food or tools for volunteers during the event. Below you will see a short description of each role that will be filled in order to complete the renovation.
Volunteer Roles

 “Skilled” (MUST BE 18yrs of age, cutting a straight line with a circular saw, familiar with power tools, measuring, cutting)
 “Unskilled” (carrying, assembling, sanding, shoveling, carpenter’s helper)
 Food Service
 Food Donation
 Tool Donation

To wrap up the project and celebrate the Fun Zone we hope you will join us for the ribbon cutting and picnic Sunday June 8 at 5:30pm. To register to fulfill a volunteer role contact Stacey Urbani at or call at 989-832-3256 or register online at

Fun Zone Volunteer Flyer



Downtown Update: What’s Going On

15 Mar

By Ryan Richards
Allis Information Management

Selina Tisdale

Selina Tisdale, Midland Downtown Development Authority Executive Director.

Whenever we’re discussing Midland developments to write about, Downtown Midland always comes up. There’s been so much going on there in the last couple years that I wasn’t even sure I could remember it all. So I chatted (virtually) with Selina Tisdale, who among many other things is the Executive Director of the City of Midland’s Downtown Development Authority. Here’s what she had to say about what’s happening Downtown and what’s still to come.

What’s the status of the East End development? How close are they to opening? How about the tenants?

East End Webcam Picture

Downtown Midland’s East End development, taken from the Spence Brothers webcam at

The tenants that were announced during the initial construction phase (Chemical Bank Trust Department, MidMichigan Health, The Dow Chemical Company and the law firm of Warner, Norcross and Judd) are still the primary tenants for the upper floors. Main floor restaurant space is still working on being filled. Occupancy of the building will take place in stages as tenants complete their respective areas – watch for the first tenants to begin moving in early summer. There’s also a celebration event for the opening of the building planned for summer; stay tuned for more details!

What’s the plan for the five-story building on Main Street – will it be residential, commercial, both? Where is it in the development process?

The Main Street development near Ashman will be a five-story mixed-use facility. This development will feature four floors of residential space, about 19 units, and main floor retail and restaurant. There will also be at least one Main Street level restaurant to be announced.

Midland Downtown Building

The five-story building planned for Downtown Midland. Image courtesy

Demolition of the existing site is slated to begin on March 24. Demolition is expected to take 2-3 weeks with the 24-month long construction process to begin shortly thereafter. While things will be more congested than normal, we do not anticipate interference with Farmer’s Market, Tunes by the Tridge or other much-anticipated summer fun in Downtown Midland. There sure will be a lot to see, though!

The Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation provided a grant to the City that contributes to the burial of the electrical service along Ashman Street from Ann Street to Larkin. This will greatly enhance the aesthetics of Downtown Midland, eliminating overhead wires, utility poles and the like.

If you’ve seen the renderings for the Main Street development, it is not hard to tell that it will be an impressive structure that will nicely compliment the H Hotel, the historic buildings of the downtown as well as the contemporary look and feel of the new East End development. It will definitely be another signature piece for downtown Midland.

Tell us about the building that just went up on Buttles and Ashman.

SSP Associates

The SSP Associates building on Buttles and Ashman Streets.

The 30,000-square-foot structure has been developed by SSP Associates, a Shaheen Development Co. Three tenants have announced occupancy of the building: Styron will occupy the second floor with Century 21 and Wells Fargo occupying the first floor. Wells Fargo moved into the facility in late February/early March. The others are expected to move in within the June/July time frame.

Are there any other plans for residential space downtown? I know there are some existing loft apartments… what’s the status of those? Are there plans to add more residential space?

416 McDonald

416 McDonald in Midland (click the picture and look for the red circle!). Image courtesy City of Midland GIS system.

The new development in downtown Midland is definitely sparking an interest in bringing more residential to the area. The 19 residential units in the new Main Street development will be the first major investment in new downtown residential units.

At a council meeting in February, SSP inquired to City Council about the purchase of city-owned property at 416 McDonald Street (between Buttles and Indian Streets). SSP already owns the balance of this block and would like to purchase the remaining parcel with the intent of developing a multi-residential housing development at that location. Other residential development inquiries have been made as well, but nothing public at this time.

There are about a dozen “loft” type apartments in the downtown, above existing main floor space; however, they are fairly elusive – as soon as one becomes available it is snapped up. But I hear more and more every day from those interested in adding more residential downtown, both in existing buildings and through new development.

What else would you like to see in Downtown Midland? Comment below and share your thoughts!


Other links:

Our earlier blog post on the East End project

MLive article on the five-story Downtown building

Midland Daily News article on the proposed SSP residential development


Summer Breeze: Pure Michigan Campaign Highlights Great Lakes Bay Region

14 Mar

By Mark Kawiecki

Pure Michigan ads aren’t anything new. In fact, the Pure Michigan campaign has now been active for nearly 10 years! Launched in 2006, the campaign has been highly recognized for its effectiveness at bringing tourism and attention to the wonderful state of Michigan.

Pure Michigan’s most recent television ad focuses on the Great Lakes Bay Region. I have really enjoyed all of the Pure Michigan ads, but this one is especially exciting because it will be bringing positive attention to our region. You might recognize some familiar places that are featured in the video like the Tridge, Dow Gardens, Currie Municipal Golf Course, Bay City’s Riverwalk and Frankenmuth’s downtown.

Michigan deserves a big pat on the back from the success of the campaign through the years. Statistics for 2013 show that the Pure Michigan campaign drove more than 4 million trips last year, generating $1.2 billion in economic impact. For the $13 million that was spent on out-of-state advertising, the campaign generated $86.5 million in tax revenue from visitor spending, a return of $6.66 for ever dollar spent.

The 2014 Pure Michigan national campaign will be launching March 17. Due to the success of their efforts, Michigan will also be increasing their international marketing in new areas like Toronto. Presence in global markets like Great Britain, Germany and China will also be increasing.

What do you think of the new ad? Does it represent the region well? Comment below with your thoughts.

MYPros in 2013: We Didn’t Take This Year Lying Down!

15 Jan


I was going to start off this blog post by saying something like “wow 2013 has come and gone, and… Can you believe it’s already 2014!” But that seems so generic and I tend to try to do things a little differently! So I am going to start by saying that I can’t wait to see what 2014 holds for MYPros. In 2013 we accomplished so much and added a few more layers to this program. If you’re someone who likes to go by the numbers, here’s a breakdown of the 2013 MYPros program.


  • There were 14 total young professional events.
  • MYPros hosted 10 total events for the year and we were hosted by Saginaw and Bay City YPs for four events, two per city.
  • MYPros held four luncheons, four social events (two were regional) and two Pilsners & Politics.
  • There were 527 total young professionals that attended at least one MYPros event.  I have to say that again…that’s 527 individuals!
  • We raised $2,300 to pay for MYPros t-shirts to be given out to YP’s. We raised this money by hosting the “Fury at Currie” golf outing.
  • We started a new giving circle in Midland specifically for young professionals, the 100 Young Professionals Club. The 100 YP Club’s goal is to obtain 100 members; in our first year we have 46 members.
  • The 100 YP Club held two meetings and donated a total of $3,900 in 2013; $1,600 to Midland Area Homes and $2,300 to Creative 360.
  • In 2013, the MYPros Communications Subcommittee created 12 newsletters, one every month.
  • The Communications Subcommittee also unveiled the new MYPros blog in July of 2013. To date we have had 2,146 hits in just six months.
  • The MYPros Marquee was created in 2013 as a resource for young professionals to find out what’s going on in the community and all the fun events happening.
  • 2013 was the last year our wonderful, fearless leader, Karl Ieuter of Ieuter Insurance Group, was Chair of the MYPros Steering Committee.  A special thank you goes out to Karl; he has devoted much of his time to this program and has been a dedicated Chair for the past three years. Thank you Karl!


So after all this you might be asking, what’s next in 2014? Well here’s a peek into the upcoming year…

  • Ben Morlock of The Dow Chemical Company  will be Chair of the MYPros Steering Committee, and Trish Ross of Members First Credit Union will be Chair-Elect.
  • New this year, MYPros will host two orientation sessions for new members of MYPros. This will help new YP’s learn more about the program and how they can get involved. These sessions will be sponsored by Northwood University’s DeVos Graduate School.
  • We will continue with our events, hosting four luncheons, social events and Pilsners & Politics.
  • The 100 YP Club will meet twice this year again and we hope by the end of 2014 we will reach our goal of 100 members!
  • We will continue to grow the MYPros blog and newsletter, as well as the MYPros Marquee.


This is just a sample of what’s to come in 2014! Thank you to all of you who help to make the MYPros program what it is today, either by volunteering on a committee or attending events. Without all of your participation we wouldn’t have this program. So thank you again for making 2013 a success! If you have any comments or suggestions for programming in 2014, please feel free to email me your thoughts at  I always love to hear new ideas!


Drink Local, Drink Well!

17 Oct


It’s no secret that many of us young professionals would like to see a few more watering holes around Midland.  So it wasn’t a surprise that Midland was eagerly awaiting the opening of WhichCraft Taproom.  When I heard that WhichCraft was going to feature all local Michigan beers and wines I was so excited. Not only do I think Michigan beer and wine is fabulous, but I love that they are on board with WEconomic Power, and supporting Michigan’s economy by drinking local! I was curious to learn more about this unique new taproom in Midland, and I think many others are as well.  So I hope you enjoy our short interview with Richard and Sharon Caldwell, the owners of WhichCraft.

1. What Challenges are you facing right now?
We imagine they are similar to the problems faced by all start-up businesses. We are obviously still learning our systems and making tweaks as necessary. The first few weeks, we kept having to run to the store for food and beg our distributors to bring us more beer!

We have been overwhelmed (in a truly fantastic way) by the response we received from the community. We expected to be busy when we opened, but WOW, we were really busy! There was literally a line down the block on opening day. That was a surprise! Guests had to wait a very long time for their drinks/food those first few nights. But in all honesty, the crowds are wonderful as they forced us to learn our systems on the fly. We hope that people are patient with us (and our staff in particular, who are truly wonderful) as we continue to adjust things to improve customer service. The more we do it, the better we become!

2. How do you foresee WhichCraft shaping the future of Midland’s downtown?
We really hope to be just one of many businesses bringing people to downtown Midland. There are a lot of exciting things happening downtown, and we are happy to be just a small part of it.

3. What type of experience do you hope people will have at your bar, and how are you different from other local bars?
We hope people try something new! With 40 different types of beer, cider, or mead on tap at all times and a constantly rotating menu of draft selections, you will never see the same menu twice! Order a flight; try a style, brewery, or beer you’ve never had. Expand your horizons. Be brave!

We also hope people take a few moments to talk to their server or bartender. Our staff is extremely knowledgeable, and many of them are truly in it for the love of beer!

What sets us apart? First and foremost, it really is all about the beer. More than anything else, we are dedicated to bringing great products (beer, cider, wine, & mead), made right here in Michigan, to downtown Midland. Craft beer (and wine, cider, and mead) is passionately produced by artisans who care about the products they are producing and love the process of producing them. It has flavor; it has texture: it isn’t mass-produced, its artistry. It has a history, a purpose, and a story to tell.

Similarly, the building itself has a story to tell. Built in the late 1800s, it was originally a livery stable and later Glovers Pharmacy and Mashue Printing. It has been owned by the same family for generations. We wanted to preserve the history of the building, which is why we left the original brick walls exposed. You can actually see where windows were once filled in.

Finally, WhichCraft Taproom truly was built by hand. Richard fabricated the intricate tongue-and-groove bar front with wood he found in the basement. He built the bar top and table tops from a reclaimed bowling alley lane and created the community tables with wood from salvaged fallen trees found in the UP. The items Richard didn’t make himself (barstools, brushed metal tapwall, and room dividers) were handmade by Matt Weckesser of FAB Custom designs. From the art on the walls (aluminum overlaid with photography from local artist Ryan Aiman) to the hand-made ceramic Mug Club Mugs (by local artist Julie Tyrrell, through Serendipity 181), we wanted to showcase local talent that was both beautiful and relevant.

4. Where did you come up with the idea for your business?
Honestly, it all started with an article in the Midland Daily News! We read an article talking about the plethora of redevelopment liquor licenses available in the downtown district and started to do some research.

5. How did you get started? What’s your background?
Richard is a fourth-generation native of Midland who earned an MBA and a Law degree from MSU before moving back to Midland to work for Dow Chemical, where he spent four years in the finance department until he left to open WhichCraft Taproom. Sharon is a native of West Michigan with a professional background in marketing and publishing.

6. Following you on Facebook, it looked like there were some hurdles to jump while trying to open. What were the struggles of opening your business?
There are always a few surprises when attempting to renovate a building that is more than 100 years old, but the biggest single hurdle was the installation of the walk-in cooler, part of which was actually lost in transit. The shipping company spent about a week looking for it before we realized that the missing parts would have to be re-made. Then, when it arrived, it was to different dimensions than we expected. We were able to improvise, but we did loose at least a month. In the end, everything works as expected, so we really can’t complain!

More than anything, we just underestimated the amount of time each particular step of the process would take! We really didn’t have any major hurdles, everything just took a little longer than expected.

7. What do you hope for the future of WhichCraft? 
We are interested in developing some house-branded beer.

$49 Million in Change: Midland’s East End Project

4 Oct

ImageOver 140 young professionals packed the Dow Diamond on Thursday, Sept. 26 to hear the latest news about the East End development (a.k.a. “the huge building across from the stadium”). On hand were Midland City Manager Jon Lynch along with Gillespie Group President Pat Gillespie and Caddis Development Group President Kevin McGraw (the project developers) and Spence Brothers President/CEO Herb Spence (responsible for the construction). Here are some of the highlights:

The Tenants

  • Current tenants include Chemical Bank Wealth Management, Warner Norcross & Judd, MidMichigan Medical Center-Midland, and a second-floor fitness center, along with another “major” tenant to be announced soon. The Michigan Baseball Foundation has also announced State & Main Restaurant will be a tenant as well.
  • In total, there are only about 7,000 square feet left to lease (out of over 250,000), and the developers would like 4-5 restaurants to start with. They’re looking for suggestions (see the end of this post for the way to contribute).

The Construction

  • The construction, which has been greatly accelerated, is still even a little ahead of schedule. The “core and shell” work to enclose the building might be done as early as the first week of November. Indoor “fitouts” for the major tenants’ spaces are starting this month.
  • If all goes well, there should be people in the building by sometime next spring.
  • The building is working toward LEED Silver certification to be environmentally friendly.
Conceptual rendering taken from

Conceptual rendering taken from the Midland East End website

The Impact

  • About 800 people currently work in Midland’s Downtown. Pat Gillespie predicted the East End project will add another 800 by itself.
  • The development will help fill current vacancies even though it’s adding new space. Gillespie has seen businesses eager to take advantage of new development rent nearby existing space at a lower price point. He predicts that within three years, Downtown Midland will be entirely filled with “stuff you don’t have now.”
  • The project was originally a $33 million investment; today, it’s $49 million. This has raised the taxable value of that property from $800,000 in 2011 to $13 million today.

The Future

  • The East End development is not including residential space – it’s difficult for residents and businesses to share the same elevators and other infrastructure. But the developers and the City are discussing other possible residential development. Since Pat gets “five to ten calls a week” asking if there are apartments available in the East End, he predicted there will eventually be 70-100 apartments in Downtown Midland.
  • In order to have those apartments, though, and to have associated services like taxis, there needs to be enough demand for a private-sector investor to take the projects on. Apartments downtown would probably need be priced between $775 and $1100/month to be viable.

The East End project is exciting by itself, but the impact on Midland and the region will be even bigger. As the project shapes up, the developers encouraged MYPros to have our say in the tenants we’d like to see. Leave a comment on this post and tell us what you think should be in the East End!