Thursday, December 8, 2016

City receives $2.7 million in grants for Open Space and Boyne Valley Trail

Boyne City Mayor Tom Neidhamer speaks to the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund Board, which approved two major grants for the city.  
The City of Boyne City was awarded a $2.4-million grant Wednesday, Dec. 7th, to help purchase the Lake Street Open Space property, and another $300,000 to help build the first phase of the Boyne Valley Trailway, a non-motorized biking and hiking path from the Boyne City Airport to Boyne Falls.

Before sunrise, at around 5:30 a.m. Wednesday morning, December 7th, six members of the Boyne community left to appear before the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund (MNRTF) Board at their annual grant award deciding meeting in Lansing. Traveling to Lansing were Boyne City Mayor Tom Neidhamer, Commissioner Hugh Conklin, City Manager Michael Cain, Boyne City School Board President Ken Schrader, Boyne Area Chamber of Commerce Board President and Boyne Mountain Food and Beverage Manager Michael Doumanian and Chamber Executive Director Ashley Cousens. Also attending were State Senator Wayne Schmidt and Little Traverse Conservancy Executive Director Tom Bailey, who joined Mayor Neidhamer in expressing their support of a grant to help purchase the Lake Charlevoix Open Space property at 475 North Lake Street.

After presentations to the MNRTF Board, it approved a motion making additional income they had received thru the year available to help fund both property acquisition and site development grants. In doing so the board was able to fund all active property acquisition requests statewide and many more site development projects. The MNRTF, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2016, is primarily funded by gas and oil lease revenue generated on State of Michigan lands. Two projects applied for by Boyne City were funded. Funding for the MNRTF Board’s recommended projects next goes before the State legislature for final approval. Much additional local work such as providing appraisals and developing more detailed plans for the trails will be taking place well into 2017 in the months ahead.

In addition to those sizable awards, Boyne City received a check for $35,218 for improvements funded by the mParks recreation program at Waterworks and Avalanche Parks. Some of those improvements, such as a new trail linking the two properties have been fully completed while others will be finalized in the spring.
On Monday of this week Boyne City was notified that it received a $47,500 grant from the Great Lakes Fishery Trust to help Catt Development develop a new proposed public fishing pier at the west end of the Water Street walkway. The pier is expected to be constructed in 2017.

In addition the City of Boyne City appears to be in line for an additional $4,000 tree planting grant from DTE Energy. Paperwork has been submitted and is awaiting final approval.

In a little over two weeks just over up to $2.8 million in grant funds have been received, awarded or pledged to the City of Boyne City. These five grants have taken months and in some cases years to get to these points and while much work remains to bring them to final completion the efforts to date will bring long term benefits to residents and visitors to the region for years to come.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Team Boyne is one of the keys to Boyne City's success

Written by Boyne City Manager Michael Cain, reprinted from The Review, the official magazine of the Michigan Municipal League: Team Boyne is a voluntary group of members of the business community, nonprofits and leading organizations interested in promoting entrepreneurship and development. It is a welcoming environment where new and existing businesses can get confidential support and guidance from the rest of the Boyne City community. Team Boyne brings community leaders together on a monthly basis for some very important networking. It isn't uncommon to have 25-30 people sitting around the table, each sharing what is new or important with their organization, as well as what they are hearing on the street. This way, everyone has a good, general understanding of where the community is going and any items that might need to be addressed. This process helps avoid surprises and circumvent parties working at cross purposes. It has been amazing how guards have come down and real dialogs have developed.  Full article PDF.  Full page-turning article, pages 36-37.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Smitten Designs started small, grew fast

Reprinted from the newsletter: The story of Smitten By The Mitten, a Boyne City business, starts six years ago with a Google search for “best places to retire.” Among the results were Traverse City and Petoskey, sparking an idea. Ivette Dixon, a Louisiana native, was moving to Michigan.
Despite never visiting the state before, she saved her money for a year, found a house on Craigslist and moved to Boyne City with her husband in 2010.
“I wanted to live someplace with camping, lakes, beaches—the outdoors,” Ivette says. “There’s fours seasons. I can go skiing or boating and it’s beautiful. You can’t find that everywhere.”
When Ivette moved to Michigan, she had no intention of starting a business. She worked at several local businesses including Cafe Santé and then Petoskey Brewing. Jewelry making was a hobby. But when she wore one of her lockets while bartending, coworkers and patrons kept asking where she got it. So she started selling them on the side. In 2013, Ivette did a giveaway on Facebook and the post went crazy. She got so many orders she quit her job, made a website and took out a $5,000 loan for equipment. Smitten By The Mitten State took off.
As Smitten By The Mitten continued to grow, Ivette moved locations several times for more space. Now she’s downtown (118 Water St.) across the street from Red Mesa Grill.
At the shop you’ll find a mix of region- and event-specific products such as the craft beer long-sleeve shirt, Detroit athletics hoodie and Yooper jewelry collection.
Including the U.P. in her designs and logo, is important to Ivette. “So often you just see the Lower Peninsula mitten in designs. The U.P. is gorgeous and a huge part of our state.”
Ivette designs and makes all the jewelry, apparel and displays for the store. She also does custom floral arrangements, wreaths and wood signs.
Exploring different regions of Michigan has inspired many of Ivette’s designs. A few of her favorite places to visit are Glen Arbor, Empire Bluff Trail, Marquette and Pictured Rocks. Ivette recently started a journal on her website to share her travel finds and recommendations. 
“I wasn’t born here, but I love this state. I want my designs to be meaningful and to invoke feelings of home so people can wear them again and again.” Full story on

Country Living features Boyne in "Best Small Mountain Towns" for winter

Boyne Mountain Resort
Boyne City is featured in the Country Living magazine website along with high-profile winter towns including Jackson Hole, Park City, Bozeman, Steamboat Springs and Lake Placid. The story says readers can "Treat cabin fever by booking a winter break in these high-altitude towns where snow is considered a good thing."

Here is the profile of Boyne City and Boyne Falls: "Can you even discuss winter weekends without mentioning mittens? Boyne Falls is at the top of the Michigan Mitten and offers some of the most reliable snow in the Midwest. The two skiable mountains catch all the winter weather coming off Lake Superior and Lake Michigan, refreshing the powder on the slopes and terrain parks. If there's too much weather, you can slip away to the indoor water park or head into Boyne City, a historic downtown district that welcomes visitors year-round. You'll find plenty of candy shops, restaurants, breweries, boutiques and bookstores along Water Street and Lake Street to distract you. Read the full story." See the story online.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

8th annual Business Expo/Taste of Boyne is Nov. 2 at Boyne Mountain

Boyne Mountain chefs at last year's Expo and Taste.

Enjoy food, fun and VIP networking from 3-7 p.m. Wednesday, November 2nd, in the Civic Center at Boyne Mountain Resort. This Expo is one of the largest business networking events in Northern Michigan with more than 1,000 people coming to see 80 exhibitors in 90 booths. It's open to the public. Admission is $5 and includes a Taste Card good at all 12 Taste of Boyne booths. New this year - if you vote for your favorite "People's Choice" food booth, you'll be entered in a drawing for a $100 Boyne Mountain gift card.

Also new this year, we have a fun photo booth that will be free for everyone who attends. We will also have two cash bars with happy hour prices, dozens of giveaways, upbeat music from Roger Coates' Experience DJ's, plus ongoing demonstrations from the award-winning Boyne City Blaze Robotics Team. Thanks to our Presenting Sponsor, Pat O'Brien & Associates Real Estate!

Get a free ticket, a free Taste Card and meet dozens of people - volunteer for a two-hour shift. It's easy - you'll be checking people in at the front door and/or marking off Taste Cards at food booths. Call 231-582-6222 or email us.

For more information and a list of exhibitors and taste booths, visit:  Photos from last year.

Friday, October 14, 2016

State of Community is bright in a year of change and growth

From the Petoskey News-Review: The Boyne Area Chamber of Commerce annual State of The Community event that took place at Boyne Mountain Thursday highlighted a year of change and growth in the Boyne City area. Among the most notable changes were the faces of the people delivering the updates about the activities of the chamber, and the Boyne City Public Schools. The event served as a bit of a passing of the baton from outgoing chamber executive director, Jim Baumann, to his recently hired replacement, Ashley Cousens. Cousens served as the master of ceremonies of the event while Baumann, who will retire in about three weeks after more than eight years at the helm of the organization, used most of the chamber's presentation time slot to thank the community. "This has been a great job. It's truly been the best job I've ever had," Baumann said. "You come to this event and you hear all this great stuff, and that's kind of my life every day." The other new face among the presenters was Patrick Little who in early July became the new superintendent of Boyne City Public Schools, replacing Peter Moss who retired at the end of January after more than five years in the position.  Little said it was the connectedness of the Boyne community, as evidenced through events such as Thursday's, that was a big part of what made taking the position with Boyne City Public Schools appealing to him. Full story.
> School Supt. Patrick Little's presentation (PDF).
> City Manager Michael Cain's full text of comments.
> Thanks to our Presenting Sponsor, 4Front Credit Union.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Ashley Cousens named Boyne Chamber exec director

The Boyne Area Chamber board of directors has hired Ashley Cousens as their next executive director. Her first day in the Chamber office will be Tuesday, Sept. 13th. 

Board President Michael Doumanian noted that Cousens was hired on a Tuesday and she immediately enrolled in Leadership Charlevoix County and attended their orientation two days later. "We had more than 20 applications for this position, we interviewed six finalists, and Ashley was our consensus choice," Doumanian said. "We're confident that she will do a great job and everyone who meets her will be as enthusiastic as we are."

Chamber members are invited to meet Cousens at the Chamber's Business After Hours on Thursday, Sept. 15th. That event will be held from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Good Neighbors Food Pantry and Boyne Area Free Clinic, 624 State St.

Cousens will work with outgoing Executive Director Jim Baumann until early November, when Baumann will retire after 8 years in the position.

Cousens has a strong background in community and workforce development. She grew up in New Hampshire, attended college at the State University of New York in Plattsburgh, where she earned her B.A. in Spanish and revived a Peer Advising program on campus. 

After graduation, she spent the next decade in Plattsburgh, close to the Adirondack Mountains, working in community and workforce development. She specializes in working collaboratively with community partners and developing unique programs to enrich the quality of life for community residents. 

She has worked with high schools to incorporate work training programs, she has counseled youth who have dropped out of school to help them improve their skills and find jobs, and she has worked with employers and community organizations on grants and projects and on all sides of the workforce development relationship. She has also worked for and with non-profit organizations.

Cousens relocated to Northern Michigan in February with her partner, Matthew, when he began working for the Health Department of Northwest Michigan. Soon after arriving, Ashley began working for the Friends of the Jordan River Watershed as the Program Director and has spent the spring and summer working to further the mission and goals of that organization. 

In her spare time, Ashley loves to be in the great outdoors; whether she is hiking, kayaking, boating, mountain biking, skiing, or camping. She also enjoys reading, baking, attending community events, volunteering, and meeting new and interesting people. 

Ashley Cousens' LinkedIn profile.

"40 Under 40" article on Cousens from Strictly Business magazine in Plattsburgh NY, 2013.