Economic Development

Economic Development



Whether you are looking at our area to relocate your company, expand a business, or want a great quality of life, we invite you to invest in the economic and cultural hub of northeast Michigan!

Incorporated in 1871, the City of Alpena overlooks Lake Huron's picturesque Thunder Bay from its location at the mouth of the Thunder Bay River. Our economic portfolio is grounded in a collection of mature, natural, resource-based industries; wood, paper, and cement products. We are also nurturing the growth of new industries such as for the wind energy market.

The City of Alpena is committed to enhancing and promoting its business-friendly climate. Through our partnerships with Target Alpena Development Corporation, the Alpena Area Chamber of Commerce, the Alpena Downtown Development Authority, and the Alpena Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, we offer dynamic opportunities for business growth, expansion, and success.

Our planning and development staff has implemented a flexible development and approval process to help you do business in our community. We can also offer a variety of economic development tools and incentives to promote your business's development.  

This city of 11,000 has a rich and vibrant history and offers a great quality of life. Experience boating and fishing on beautiful Lake Huron, dive to the hundreds of shipwrecks in the only freshwater National Marine Sanctuary and Underwater Preserve in the world, or enjoy the area’s natural beauty and a great variety of outdoor recreational activities. From the Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center, to the region's only accredited museum, to diverse and vibrant cultural opportunities, including festivals, theater, art, and music, the City of Alpena is a very cool city to live, work, and play!

This vibrant but relaxed way of life is further enhanced by the educational opportunities provided by Alpena Community College, an excellent local school system, and state-of-the-art facilities at Alpena Regional Medical Center.

Thus, the City of Alpena welcomes you. Come and see how Alpena truly is a warm and friendly port! Experience our hospitality, our culture, our beautiful sunrises, and natural beauty. If you dare to dream, the City of Alpena offers the creative entrepreneur or developer a variety of excellent business opportunities.

Our planning and development staff is available as a resource to help you make the decision to call Alpena your business home. The information contained throughout our website is intended to help your business make successful and well-informed decisions.

Find out what's waiting for you in Alpena:

Browse below for services, programs, and development opportunities being offered.

Browse our community websites for a glimpse of our history, culture, and community.

Better yet, visit our warm and friendly port and make Alpena your new home!

Development Opportunities

US 23 North (click for air photo and property layout)

  • 98 acres located on Alpena's north side near community college, hospital,  and professional offices
  • 750+ feet of frontage on US 23
  • High traffic count - 14,000 ADT
  • Proximity to growing lakefront residential development north of the City
  • Flexible lot configuration
  • All utilities available
  • Zoned for mixed-use: office, retail, and higher density residential
  • Land costs negotiable to $0 based on capital investment and job creation
Contact:  Planning, Development, and Zoning Director 
Montiel Birmingham

City of Alpena
Phone:  989.354.1771

Downtown Alpena
Historic downtown with a mix of retail, service, culinary, entertainment, and cultural businesses. Emerging residential market, especially in the upper stories of commercial buildings.

Contact: Anne Gentry, Executive Director
City of Alpena Downtown Development Authority
Phone:  989.356.6422

Renaissance Zones

  • State-designated tax exempt zones
     *  Exempt from local real and personal property taxes 
     *  Exempt from Michigan Business Tax (MBT) resulting from
         business activity within the Zone
  • Three active zones within the City

Oxbow Village

40 acre mixed-use development, zoned Planned Unit Development (PUD)

Approximately 22 acres available for development

Existing development consists of 48 units of assisted living senior housing, dialysis treatment center, and a medical office.

Commerce Industrial Park

See details under Development Opportunities above

Memorial Hall (former Armory Building)

48,000 square foot former memorial hall and armory

Zoned for mixed use (PUD)

Located in downtown Alpena on the Thunder Bay River

Certified historic site, eligible for state and federal tax credits

Contact: Memorial Hall LLC

Scott Barkley
Phone:  989.464.5261

James Makowske
Phone:  989.464.4937

Craig Patterson
Phone:  989.464.8195

  • Oxbow Village and Memorial Hall Zones designated through 2017; Commerce Industrial Park through 2014. Individual sites in all zones may be extended for up to 15 additional years upon approval by the Michigan Economic Growth Authority Board on a case-by-case basis.

Brownfield Redevelopment Programs

State of Michigan Public Act 381 of 1996, as amended (Brownfield Redevelopment Financing Act), provides financial incentives through Tax Increment Financing (TIF) and credits against the Michigan Business Tax (MBT) to assist in the clean-up and redevelopment of brownfield sites within the state.  In accordance with the Act, the City of Alpena has created an Authority for Brownfield Redevelopment. This five-member board has established policies and regulations by which it may approve brownfield plans for qualified redevelopment sites, including TIF plans to provide financial reimbursement for eligible environmental and developmental costs and brownfield MBT credits for up to 12.5% of the development investment. Brownfield plans must be approved by the Alpena Municipal Council. The State of Michigan must approve any brownfield plan including the capture of state school tax funds, as well as all brownfield tax credit requests.

The City has approved three brownfield plans to date, two of which include active Tax Increment Financing components.

Contact:   Montiel Birmingham
City of Alpena Authority for Brownfield Redevelopment
Phone:  989.354.1771

Downtown Incentive Programs 

The DDA operates three programs to assist business and property owners within the City’s downtown.

Low-Interest Loan Program

In cooperation with local financial institutions, up to $50,000 in loan funds would be available at one point under prime. The DDA may purchase an additional point under prime on the applicant's behalf.

Funding may be used to upgrade the interior/exterior of downtown buildings.

Facade Grant Program

$5,000 grant to assist in the restoration of building facades.

Must be consistent with the historic character and design of the building.


Tax Abatement Programs

Industrial Tax Abatement - PA 198 of 1974

50% real and personal property tax abatement for up to twelve (12) years for qualified new construction and equipment.

New Personal Property Tax Abatement - PA 328 of 1998

100% tax abatement on all new personal property for up to nine (9) years for qualified businesses and personal property.

Obsolete Property Rehabilitation Act - PA 146 of 2000

Abatement of all local property taxes on the increased value of rehabilitated, functionally obsolete buildings, and property for up to twelve (12) years. Land and personal property not abated.

Commercial Rehabilitation Act - PA 210 of 2005

Abatement of all local property taxes on the increased value of rehabilitated or replace buildings and redeveloped property for up to ten (10) years. Land and personal property not abated.

Neighborhood Enterprise Zone (NEZ) - PA 147 of 1992

This program: 1) abates 100% of the property taxes on the incremental increase in the real property taxable value attributable to the rehab of a residential dwelling unit or the creation of a residential dwelling unit in an existing commercial building; 2) for a new facility (residence), the property tax rate each year the abatement is in effect is limited to one-half of the preceding year's Non-PRE (Principal Residence Exemption) state average tax rate or the PRE state average tax rate, whichever applies.

The NEZ can be used in tandem with the City's Downtown Rental Program to develop new residential rental units in the upper floors of existing downtown commercial buildings, resulting in new housing stock and greater activity in Alpena's downtown and increased cash flow for the property.

Contact: Planning, Development, and Zoning Director 
Montiel Birmingham
City of Alpena
Phone:  989.354.1771

Downtown Residential Rental Development Program

MSHDA funded program that provides 70% of the cost, up to $35,000, to develop new residential rental units in the vacant or underutilized upper floors of existing downtown commercial buildings. Property owners must invest at least 25% of the total project cost. Affordable units (single unit or one unit if two are developed) must be rented initially to moderate income households and rents are controlled for a five-year affordability period.

When combined with the Neighborhood Enterprise Zone Tax Abatement, the development of these units becomes very economically attractive. Provides additional cash flow that, when combined with that of the first floor commercial enterprise, can greatly enhance the overall financial bottom line for the building.

The City applies for funding approximately every two years based on interest from the downtown property owners.

Thirteen units have been constructed to date with five additional planned.

Contact:   Planning & Development Director - Vacant

Target Alpena Development Corporation Programs

Revolving Loan Fund

Provides up to $50,000 in primary and gap financing for new and existing businesses.

Broadband Access for Businesses (Alpena Business Consortium)

Provides affordable access to high speed broadband, including I2, to local businesses in conjunction with Alpena Fiber Consortium and MERIT broadband network.

Contact:  Mike Mahler
Phone:  989.354.2666
Fax:      989.354.1709

Alpena Area Chamber of Commerce Programs

New and existing business assistance courses.

Insurance discounts for Chamber members.

New and existing business promotional opportunities.

Contact:  Adam Poll - Executive Director
Alpena Area Chamber of Commerce
Phone:  989.354.4181

Michigan Small Business Technology and Development Center

Provides resource information, assistance, and educational classes to small business operators and entrepreneurs.

Contact:  Carl Bourdelais
Senior Business Consultant
Phone:  989.358.7383
Fax: 989.358.7383