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Attracting talent critical, but affordable housing is Muskegon's bigger issue

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While the City of Muskegon survived the pandemic and its revitalization continues, officials Friday said that creating more affordable housing is the Lakeshore’s number one priority in maintaining long term growth.

The comments came during Muskegon’s Economic Summit Friday morning. Hosted by the Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce, officials say that the arrow is still pointing up for the city despite the challenges of the pandemic, however, attracting talent to the area remains critical—as a number of businesses are struggling to fill open positions.

Even more concerning officials say, is the lack of affordable housing—what good is it for people to move to the area, if there is nowhere to live?

Frank Peterson is Muskegon’s City Manager.

“There is much work to do. And building high quality housing is at the very top of our list,” Peterson said. “Job creation is paramount, but right now, housing has to be our top priority.”

With that comes convincing developers to build more homes and apartment complexes—a tough sell right now, with an uncertain supply-chain caused by the pandemic, and the soaring price of lumber.

To help sweeten the deal, Friday morning, officials presented three pieces of legislation that is expected to pass in the Michigan Senate, which would effectively give developers a 50 percent tax break if they meet certain criteria.

Still that isn’t going to fix the problem long term, says Josh Lunger—he’s the Senior Director of Government Affairs, at the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce.

“The state incentives, if we pass them all today, it is not going to the long term, the solution,” Lunger said. “But we are really committed to this. We really think that if we can create a healthier housing market, especially in West Michigan where we are focused, it is not just housing, it improves access to jobs, health outcomes, and that is what we are really here to discuss today is how to do we keep moving our region forward.”

One way, is to continue to promote Muskegon and its revitalization. Chamber President Cindy Larsen said Friday, that the city plans to ramp up its Watch Muskegon campaign this summer, and promote the gains the city has made thus far.

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