Cheboygan Communities Foundation was recently featured in Cheboygan Today. Click the picture above to read the full article.
Making things happen in a community usually doesn’t happen through the efforts of a single person. Typically, it involves many people supporting a greater goal. In Cheboygan County, the goal is increasing jobs, educational opportunities, tourism, and the aesthetic appeal of the area; and the people who make that effort are the members and supporters of the Cheboygan Communities Foundation (CCF), and the Cheboygan Economic Development Group (CEDG) both a 501(c)3 organization aimed at improving the quality of life in all Cheboygan County communities. According to Richard B. Sanford, the CEDG’s Past Chairman/CEO and currently the CCF’s Chairman and CEO, the objective of the Cheboygan Communities Foundation is pretty succinct. “The organization is a unique charitable foundation aimed exclusively at improving economic conditions in Cheboygan County, thru the funding of new opportunities,” he said. “What makes it unique is that it is a ‘pass-through’ foundation. Most foundations raise capital and then spend the interest they earn, but we invest the principle as funds are raised for immediate economic benefit of the county and its citizens.” Although only formed in the fall of 2011, the CCF has already helped to accomplish a considerable amount in the area. Its first project was helping to develop marketing materials for the new Port of Cheboygan. The foundation awarded three grants totaling $7500 towards this effort. “This is exactly in line with what the foundation was awarded to do – help fund projects that hold promise of attracting good paying jobs to the community,” Sanford observed. Another project facilitated by the CCF but initiated by its sister organization, the CEDG, was the gift of an essentially unused middle school building located in downtown Cheboygan, owned by Cheboygan Area Schools. Leaders from the CEDG (Bud Darnell, Chuck Atkins and Sanford) approached the school superintendent suggesting they donate the building to the CEDG. This would relieve the school of the building’s carrying costs (approximately $27,000 annually for heat, electricity, insurance, maintenance and repairs.) As a result, the schools reaped new found funds needed for other critical needs, the city and county gained the addition of the building on their tax rolls, the purchaser gained the space it needed for business expansion and offered the classrooms to North Central Michigan College. While NCMC had taught classes in Cheboygan for many years, there was no centralized location for those classes. Now, all are held in the same building, there is a greater variety of classes to take, and more local students are getting educated. Post high school students can attend college at home, avoiding the expense of fuel and time required to drive to nearby communities to attend classes. This series of unique transactions benefited all – the public schools, the buyer, the city, the county, college bound young citizens, and rewards the efforts of the volunteer business leadership that made it happen. Now the CCF is focusing on vocational education, where increased demand is forecasted in fields such as welding, metalworking, healthcare, and hospitality. Sometimes quietly and behind the scenes, an economic revival is taking place in Cheboygan County. In addition to local organizations such as the Cheboygan Area Chamber of Commerce and government sponsored economic entities, there are also private sector volunteer leadership groups like the CCF and CEDG bringing positive change to the economic health of our community. “We are hard at work supporting local governments, institutions, organizations, individuals, and businesses to improve this wonderful place where we live, work and play,” Sanford said. What does the future hold for the CCF? “We are looking for new projects to help fund, through grants,” noted Sanford. There are no hard and fast rules to which projects may qualify, other than improving the county’s economic condition. “Creative thinking leads to new opportunities. Creating opportunities is critical to improving our quality of life. We see our role as a catalyst in creating those opportunities.”