Manistee

Community Profile
Spotlight on Manistee
Lake Michigan’s Last Undiscovered Gem

Perhaps the last truly undiscovered community along Lake Michigan, Manistee is poised for discovery and economic growth. Built on a strong history of manufacturing, the area’s diversified economy is on display at Manistee’s active deep sea port, where lake freighters carry coal and other commodities through the harbor to the industries along Michigan’s lake towns. With the Manistee Blacker Airport offering direct flights to Chicago, the area is increasingly a refuge for remote workers who wish to telecommute from an affordable town that is uniquely Northern Michigan.

Manistee has endless amenities to enjoy, from the Lake Michigan shoreline and inland lakes to the newly renovated downtown Vogue Theatre, historic lighthouses, and public “white sand” beaches. Picturesque natural assets—like the Big Manistee River, Portage Lake, Bear Lake, Orchard Beach State Park, the Huron-Manistee National Forest and public lands—drive the tourism and hospitality sector in Manistee.

Why Manistee?

RRC Certified Logo

Manistee’s population has remained steady and slightly younger than that of Manistee County, signaling a robust workforce and family-based community. Manistee’s industrial legacy is prevalent in the many historic buildings downtown and large housing stock of historic homes, some of which have been renovated into B&Bs and offices. In addition to this historic charm, housing in Manistee’s attractive residential areas is affordable. In Manistee City the median home value is just about $105,000, and only 10% of the housing stock are second residences, making this a truly tight knit community to call home. 

Manistee Area Public Schools includes two elementary schools (John F Kennedy Elementary and Thomas Jefferson Elementary) and Manistee Middle High School, as well as Manistee Harbor Academy, Manistee ISD Center Programs, Casman Alternative Academy, and Michigan Great Lakes Virtual Academy, and boast a 91% graduation rate. West Shore Medical Center serves the community’s healthcare needs.  

Manistee Township is home to the two largest employers in Manistee County: the Michigan State Maximum Security Oaks Correctional Facility and the Little River Casino Resort. The Casino Resort, owned and managed by the Little River Band of Ottawa Indian Tribe, is an attraction for visitors and locals alike, complete with hotel, new spa, and concert venue. The West Shore Medical Center, Manistee Blacker Airport, and county offices and schools are among additional local employers. Several national companies have headquarters in Manistee, including PCA and Morton Salt, and are deeply rooted in the community. Over half of all workers who live in Manistee & Surrounding Townships are employed there, reflecting the area’s robust economic outlook. Over a third of Manistee residents have a bachelor's degree or higher, signaling a robust local labor pool. 

Manistee also features a robust small business community with lots of independent retailers.Take a boutique pop-up shop tour, or stroll the Riverwalk downtown, which meanders all the way down to Lake Michigan. In rural Onekama and Bear Lake, visit the many wineries and cider mills. Iron Fish, a farm to bottle distillery, uses local grains in their award winning, hand crafted spirits. Small business entrepreneurs are fueled through local efforts like Spark Manistee, which offers $5,000 awards to new startup businesses, and is supported by the local Downtown Development Agency (DDA) and Chamber organization.

Catch spring and fall bird migration at the Lake Bluff Audubon Society Bird Center, and birdwatch all year round at the Arcadia Marsh Nature Preserve. The Arcadia Marsh boardwalk, a 0.75 mile, accessible elevated path that creates easy hiking and birding, and is the gateway to the 400-acre Arcadia Marsh that borders Arcadia Lake and is preserved by the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy. Fish for abundant coho and steelhead, explore more than 150 miles of trail, golf, and boat Manistee’s many recreational outlets.  

In town, The Ramsdell Regional Center for the Arts is a cultural hub featuring dance, theatre, and music shows, visual arts exhibits, and youth engagement programming. Get a taste for regional culinary treats, local artisans, and Michigan wines, brews and spirits at annual festivals like Grapes on the River, or the Festival of Trees.

 

The Manistee Area Chamber of Commerce's mission is to build a dynamic and sustainable organization to serve the Business, Workforce and Economic Development needs of all in Manistee County. 

 

Investment Opportunities

These five parcels are located within the Central Business District, with frontage on Water Street, Oak Street, Pine Street, and First Street. Just one block from the City Marina and River Street in downtown Manistee, this property is perfect for development with a wide range of commercial and mixed uses permitted.
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Historic building ready for development on the Riverwalk, downtown Manistee. The original wood floors, decorative tin ceiling, trim, doors, wainscoting and even the original light fixtures have since remained virtually untouched and in excellent condition.
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Located in the Peninsula District, this property was used as a dock and trucking facility and is located in the deep water port. There are two buildings with multiple additions on the property. The smaller of the two is a 3,780 square-foot warehouse constructed in 1965. The main building includes 630 square-foot of office space with the remaining 7,980 square-foot used as warehouse built between 1907 and 1991.
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A prime waterfront location for redevelopment on Lake Michigan. This commercial acreage is across the street from one of the amazing beaches on the coastline, 1st Street Beach. The opportunities are endless on this 2 acre parcel. The property is surrounded by public parks, beaches & boat launch, and short distance from Manistee Marina, Manistee River Channel & Historic Downtown Manistee.
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Population
12,859
Population
-2.0%
Population Change from 2010–2018
51%
Percentage of Population in Manistee County Ages 25–64
Education
34%
% (#) of Adults in Manistee County with a Higher Degree
20%
% (#) of Adults in Manistee County with a Bachelor's Degree or Higher
Schools in Manistee
Casman Alternative Academy, John F.Kennedy Elementary School, Manistee Middle High School, Manistee Harbor Academy, Thomas Jefferson Elementary School, Manistee ISD Center Programs, Oaks Correctional Facility, Michigan Great Lakes Virtual Academy
91%
4-Year Graduation Rate from Manistee Area Public Schools
Employment
5.360
Labor Force
52%
Percentage of Workers Who Live In & Are Employed In Manistee & Surrounding Townships
21.2%
Percentage of Jobs in Accommodation & Food Services
6,849
Total Jobs
Housing
4,991
Total Households
6,673
Housing Units
75.6%
Homeownership Rate
10.9%
Seasonal Housing
$105,400
Median Home Value Value in Manistee City
$671
Median Monthly Rent in Manistee City
Income
$39,141
Median Household Income in Manistee City

Community Resources

Organizations

Featured Talent Development Resources

With healthcare and social assistance one of Manistee’s top industries, local students can take advantage of the Medical Assistant Associate Degree program at West Shore Community College. Medical Assistants are trained to work in medical offices assisting health care professionals with administrative and clinical tasks, such as recording patients' medical history and measuring their vital signs. Upon completion of the program the graduate will be eligible to sit for the Registered Medical Assistant (RMA) exam.

 

Economic Development Ecosystem Map

This map shows some of the many organizations in this county providing economic development related services, such as workforce training, development finance, or technical advising for businesses. Use the dropdown in the upper left hand corner to filter by People, Investment, and Place.   

“People” covers organizations that focus on early childhood care, workforce training, equity and diversity, and talent recruitment and retention.  

“Investment” includes organizations that focus on industry cluster support, small business investment and technical assistance, innovation and technology development, and real estate and commercial development.  

“Place”-focused organizations include tourism, arts and culture, and recreation organizations, planning and development entities, infrastructure and utility providers, and housing organizations.

Manistee & Surrounding Area

The Manistee Growth and Investment Area includes the City of Manistee, Manistee Township, and Filer Charter Township. Serving as the county seat of Manistee County, the city of Manistee and its surrounding area.

Economic Development

Recent Private Investments

Fab-Lite Plant Expansion
Size: 40,000 sq ft | Capex: $6,000,000 | Status: Complete | Jobs Created: 10–15 | Jobs Retained: 90
Fab-Lite is an office furniture manufacturing facility. It expanded its product line and additional warehouse space with 40,000 square foot expansion at their facility in the lake front business park.
West Shore Community College—River Street
Size: 7,000 sq ft | Status: Announced | Jobs created: 1-2 | Jobs retained: 10
West Shore Community College purchased vacant retail space on River Street to convert to classroom, meeting room space and an economic development and recovery hub. College personnel will be co-located with economic development and labor oriented organizations like the Manistee Area Chamber of Commerce and Michigan Works!
Arcadia Bluffs South Golf Course
Size: 310 acres | Status: Complete | Jobs created: 25+
Arcadia Bluffs—a premier championship golf course on the bluffs of Lake Michigan—built a second 18 hole golf course in a nearby parcel off of scenic M-22. An additional restaurant was built to service demand.
Arcadia Marsh Trail and Boardwalk
Size: 305 acres | Capex: $1,500,000 | Status: Complete
Private foundations and several conservation organizations partnered to develop a scenic boardwalk and universal access trail through Arcadia Marsh. The project is a tourism draw for marshland birdwatchers and has added to the county's tourism offerings.
Iron Fish Distillery
Status: Complete | Jobs created: 5 | Jobs retained: 25 | Size (sqft or acres): 4,500 sqft
Iron Fish Distillery is Michigan’s first working farm solely dedicated to the practice of distilling a full line of small-batch craft spirits. Every step of the process—from growing and harvesting non-GMO grain to cultivating native yeast, milling, mashing, fermenting, distilling, aging, and bottling—is done by hand at the distillery. Expanded with a 4500 square foot Rickhouse, two additional fermenters, and a newly constructed kitchen, it's doubled the size of its workforce.
North Channel Brewing Company
Jobs created: 20 | Jobs retained: 20 | Size: TBD
Developers acquired and rehabilitated a historic building on the Manistee River waterfront to create a microbrewery and eatery to anchor our historic downtown. The brewery's success has continued growth into new expansion opportunities, including canning and distribution of their products. They are looking to develop a larger brewing facility in Manistee.

Recent Public Works Projects

City of Manistee resurfacing and rehabilitation projects
Type: Highway/Road/Rail development | Cost: A total of $8,430,000 in investment is planned over the five-year period.
A four-year transportation improvement plan has been created by the City of Manistee. The plan details a list of projects proposed to be completed and includes costs for the entire project and all components including street, sidewalk, curb, storm, water and sewer, excluding water and sewer utility costs.
State of Michigan road resurfacing projects
Type: Highway/Road/Rail development | Cost: A total of $8,430,000 in investment is planned over the five-year period.
MDOT has included major arteries in Manistee in its five year plan. The resurfacing work includes US-31, the north-south artery leading to Ludington and Traverse City, as well as M-55, the east-west artery leading to Cadillac. M-22, from US 31 north to Onekama, has a start date of June 22, and a completion date of July 18. M-55, from Claybanks Road to Udell Hills road, has a start date of July 27, and a completion date of September 19. US 31, Parkdale up to M-22, has a start date of September 28 and a completion date of October 14. Additional projects are planned for future years. Work is also planned to replace bridges over the Manistee River on both US-31 and M-55.
Manistee Riverwalk Upgrades
Type: Highway/road/rail development | Cost: TBD
The City of Manistee will soon begin a planned upgrade to the Manistee Riverwalk. Due to high water this amenity requires upgrades for usability and safety.

Infrastructure

Electric Provider:  

Consumers Energy
Business service: 1-800-805-0490

Region 2 Economic Development Representative
Michele Eaton 
989-293-1841
Michele.Eaton@cmsenergy.com

 

Natural Gas Provider: 

DTE Energy  
Business service: 1-855-383-4249

 

Broadband/Fiber Providers:

Charter Spectrum
1-855-670-1454

 

Water Providers:

City of Manistee 
Utility Director
(231) 723-7132
jmikula@manisteemi.gov    

    

Little River Band of Ottawa Indians — Utilities        
Waste Water Treatment Plant
231-398-2299

Population
12,859
Population
-2.0%
Population Change from 2010–2018
51%
Percentage of Manistee Population Aged 25–64
12.5%
Percentage of the Population That is Non-White
Education
34%
% (#) of Adults in Manistee & Surrounding Townships with Higher Degree
32%
% (#) of Adults in Manistee County with an Associate's Degree or Higher
Employment
5,360
Labor Force
52%
Percentage of Workers Who Live In & Are Employed In Manistee & Surrounding Townships
6,849
Total Jobs
21.2%
Percentage of Jobs in Manistee County in the Accommodation and Food Services Industry
Housing
4,991
Total Number of Households
6,673
Housing Units
75.6%
Homeownership Rate
10.9%
Seasonal Housing
29%
Housing Units Built Before 1940
Income
11.4%
Poverty Rate
73%
Household Income of $15,000–$99,000

Contact

Stacie Bytwork, President
Manistee Area Chamber of Commerce
P: (231) 723-2575
M: (269) 998-9525
stacie@manisteechamber.com