January 2012

Using the Great Lakes as a Venue of Transportation

It is 893 miles from Buffalo, NY to Chicago, IL; if you take a tug boat across the Great Lakes, that is.  And that is exactly what Escanaba-based Basic Towing did when their tug, NICKELENA, towed their barge, BMI-192, loaded with a 4000+ pound boiler to the ArcelorMittal Steel Mill.

They had 6 employees working on this project.  They left at midnight, when the weather reporting sites Basic monitors told them the seas would be most favorable until they made it to Chicago.  The middle of the night, into the early morning hours, is typically when Lake Michigan is at its calmest – which was the case for this voyage as well.
The BMI-192 was named as such because it was the 192nd hull built by the sister company, Basic Marine.  There is not another barge like it on the Great Lakes and this 220” long x 55” wide x 12” deep barge is enabling Basic Towing to pursue spe
cialty cargo hauling business all across the Great Lakes, and out to the east coast.
Receiving and shipping specialty cargoes is an example of the type of business that Basic has planned in its major business expansion plans.  They were recently awarded an MDOT Freight and Rail Expansion Loan and Grant to expand the rail on their site by approximately 2000 more feet; which will help with access for over-width, and over-weight cargoes.
According to Terrie Peters, Controller, “It is our hope to serve more deep-water vessels right here from our port in Escanaba, MI. We currently serve companies at, and from, a variety of ports all across the Great Lakes. Wouldn’t it be nice to bring our port back to life again? And put another 100 + people to work right here? We are working with various local, state and federal agencies to make this business expansion come together. Your support truly helps us. We thank you for the opportunity to do this business right here in this beautiful, naturally-protected port.”

Vickie Schwab. Shorelines Vol. 2012 No 1. January  2012

 Wind Energy for 500 Homes on Schedule

December 20th, 2011. Heritage Alternative Energy has timely completed the first of 14 turbines in the Garden Peninsula. The 90 meter tower will be producing energy in early February 2012.  This new addition to the peninsula landscape is capable of producing 2 mega watts (MW); enough to provide electricity to 400-500 homes.
Another important addition to this project is the hiring of the first full-time local operator.  Michigan Works provided the venue to find the right candidate and will continue to support Heritage to scout the most qualified local employees. The new position will be in charge of the operation and maintenance of the wind farm.
Community Leaders from Delta County, Schoolcraft County, Garden Township, the Chamber of Commerce, and Delta County EDA were welcomed by Rick Wilson, Heritage’s Vice President on a tour where information was provided on how a wind farm operates.  The tour included a visit to the ATC substation, a stop at the new tower, along with the Garden substation.  By the end of 2012, this clean, no-carbon emission, energy project of 14 wind towers will be able to provide power to approximately 7000 households a year.  The first phase of power has been sold to Consumers Energy and Detroit Edison.
Based out of Traverse City, Heritage is a company with Michigan roots.  They have 30 years of Energy industry experience and have been developing and operating wind energy projects since 2004.  With their support to local economies, their concern for the environment, and their commitment to renewable resources, Heritage is part of the new generation of Energy companies.  Our state and now our own Delta County and surrounding area, has provided a symbiotic opportunity for Heritage. Michigan is ranked 14th in the nation for land-based wind resources, and a recent study by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), found that immediate shores of the great lakes maintain utility-scale wind sources.  
After preliminary studies, the Garden Township was found to have excellent wind regime; but that is not the only thing the township offered.  Garden’s already altered open farmland minimized environmental impact, and their access to a high voltage transmission line made them a desirable candidate. 
Heritage’s support for local communities is not just “talk”.  An approximate $4.5 million have already been spent for provided them meals, and local convenience stores have seen an increase in sales.  Local labor has been used for the initial part of the project and through subcontracts. Participating farmers and landowners have received lease payment and turbine site payments, part of the $10 million expected costs for the project’s start-up.  Some have questioned the long term prevalence of wind projects, but the Michigan Renewable Portfolio Standard (MRP) mandate for electric utilities to source 10 % of their electricity from renewable generation sources by 2015 shows our State’s commitment to increase energy security. 
These are good news to small communities such as Garden where renewable wind resource is prevalent.  The long term profits expected for Garden includes Heritage revenue payments to local and state governments, and 3-5 full time maintenance and operation jobs in the area.   For farmers and local land owners, the revenue comes from royalty payments from monthly energy production; a relative easy way to diversify their income. 
According to Wilson, "We're really glad to be here.  We're a Michigan-based company.  The company's with Michigan money and Michigan investors, and we really are excited to be here in the Upper Peninsula to be part of this community."
 Suani Nieto. Shorelines Vol. 2012 No 1. January  2012



UP Native Expands Business and Jobs
a “Creative” Way


Brad McPhee, a native of the UP, had envisioned returning to Delta County to build the future.  In 2000, he moved his company, Creative Composites, into their current facility in Rapid River.  By January of 2009, his company had hired 8 people, and today the number of employees have grown to 23.
Creative Composites focuses on design and engineering analysis of composite structures, including soy-based materials.  Biocomposites can combine various plant fibers and resins to form unique composite materials.  Also known as Natural Fiber Reinforced Plastics (NFRP), Biocomposites can be lighter, stronger, flexible, and more environmentally friendly compared to traditional steel and fiberglass.
The staff of Creative Composites is interested in new technology development to assist their customers.   They provide analytical, engineering, development, and fabrication to fit customers’ needs.   Their constant research allowed this company to continue developing their own technology.  An example is their newly developed solid lubricant biocomposite made of a combination of soy based lubricant, natural fibers, and traditional resins.  The resulting material is an industrial lubricant that can be molded into any shape. This product continues to be tested in a variety of applications.
This company has entered new markets and new product lines with measured planning.  Their success with the defense industry has earned average revenues of $3.5 million the past 3 years.
When CEO, Brad Mcphee, learned about the Upper Michigan Green Aviation Coalition (UMGAC), he eagerly became an active steering committee member.  This group is made of private and public sector members, and stakeholders who are participating in the creation of an industry cluster surrounding the concept of green aviation.  Their mission is to join forces to develop new business opportunities while creating jobs.  They want to promote investment and develop and commercialize new technology.  Brad views the networking opportunity UMGAC offers as a chance to look at new markets, new products, and new partnerships faster than ever before.  Now, they are able to sit across the table from Boeing, Bombadier, GE Aviation, NASA, and others to hear how they need them to move forward.
What Creative Composite brings to Delta County is not only jobs; this company brings to Delta County the vision to develop more employment opportunities through new markets and new technology.  Green to them, is more than just a law, or a fad, it is a business opportunity.  According to Brad:  “Renewables; energy, materials, processes, not only are here to stay, they make sense, especially in the long run.  We can expend the effort uselessly resisting the flow of progress or we can position ourselves to add to it.”
We are so proud that Creative Composites is adding to progress in our Delta County Community.
Suani Nieto. Shorelines Vol. 2012 No 2. February 2012.


 Basic Marine recognized as Operation
Action U.P. 2011 Award Winner


On Jan 27th, 2012 Operation Action U.P. held its Annual Meeting in Marquette where Basic Marine was recognized as a 2011 award winner.
Situated on 38 acres of waterfront property in the naturally protected harbor of northern lake Michigan’s Little Bay de Noc, Basic Marine’s services reach customers from across the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico via the Illinois and Mississippi waterways, around the horn to the West Coast, to the East Coast via the St. Lawrence River or the Erie Canal, and anywhere in between.
Ever since 1979, Basic Marine has been serving their customers throughout the nation by providing custom-built steel vessels, dry-docking for marine repairs, specialty hauling of customers’ heavy, oversized equipment and much more.
From barges to buoys to ferries, quality prevails at Basic Marine. Their custom-built steel vessels are delivered on-time, with workmanship, paint and equipment warranties, at competitive prices.
With 20-25 permanent employees and anywhere from 7-20 subcontractors working for them at any given time, Basic Marine has huge economic impact in Delta County and beyond. According to Economic Modeling Specialists, the average wage per worker in Delta County for ship building is $40,000. That’s certainly a family-sustaining wage for our region. Additionally, according to EMSI for every shipbuilding job in Delta County, two other jobs are created. Ultimately Basic Marine is supporting 75 of our residents as a net-exporter, by bringing in dollars and wealth from outside the area.
There are no other shipbuilders of Basic Marine’s size and capabilities in the state of Michigan, and the company holds its own in a competitive U.S. market with long term relationships with the Corps of Engineers, U.S. Army, Navy, Coast Guard, Geographical Survey and Department s of Transportation among others.   To date, Basic Marine has completed and delivered 214 vessels, and has another one underway.   According to Terrie Peters, Controller, “Basic Marine looks forward to continuing operations from its sole location in Escanaba ~ where people take pride in the work they accomplish. With that in mind, the next time you see a vessel leaving Basic Marine, you now know that vessel was proudly hand-crafted right here in the heart of the U.P.”
Award winners are outstanding businesses or major institutional employers who have contributed to the economic well being of their area in the Upper Peninsula. Nominations were solicited from businesses, chambers of commerce, economic developers and the general public across the U.P.  In addition to Basic Marine, the 2011 Awards of Excellence winners honored at the meeting included Western Lime Corporation of Gulliver, and Potlatch of Gwinn. 
Vickie Schwab. Shorelines Vol. 2012 No 2. February 2012.