Paul Livernois of Michigan Gas Utilities described his hometown of Monroe, MI (population 22,076) as, “A quaint town that sits on a Great Lake, not just a good lake. And, it has a beautiful river running right through the middle of it.” I couldn’t wait to visit and wasn’t disappointed when I did.
The town, which lies midway between Detroit and Toledo, OH, sits on the shores of Lake Erie. The town’s early economy was driven by paper mills, with five big ones dominating the industrial scene. Paul continued, “The last one closed in the early 1990s but Monroe has converted most of those old mills into new housing areas. We’ve had the largest number of successful brownfield sites in the state.”
Two farm boys, Edwin Shoemaker and Edward Knabusch, started La-Z-Boy in Monroe, where it is still headquartered. And, three McIntyre brothers started a tire pump manufacturer that evolved into Monroe Shock Absorbers, which is still headquartered in Monroe even after being sold to Tenneco.
Many automotive parts and related industries have located in Monroe with two Ford part’s plants being the largest. The establishing of the Monroe County Industrial Development Corporation, a private, non-profit in 1982 has continued the manufacturing tradition in Monroe. During those 25 years, Bill Morris and his team have helped to create over 11,000 jobs with nearly $3 billion of investment. The county ranks as the 85th best in the country (out of 3,141) with an average of $64,806 in average wage per manufacturing job, representing 18.95 of their workforce.
The power of local banks was reinforced to me with a program that Monroe Bank & Trust instituted over 20 years ago. ENLIST is a volunteer service organization that 82% of the bank’s 430 employees participate in. Over 200 organizations have benefited from the 120,000 man-hours contributed since inception. The bank really lives up to their motto of, “Community Service from Your Community Bank.”
….and, a river runs through it…..