February 10, 2016

Chamber President sees no sense in SMF closing

Says businesses will lose many customers

By John Fischer|Staff writer
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STANDISH — Standish Chamber of Commerce President Andrew Radatz couldn’t understand how Standish Maximum Correctional Facility (SMF) was selected as a logical closure, he said on Friday after hearing the news.

“Arenac County, being one of the poorest counties, with an unemployment rate over 20-percent, gets hit with 200 to 300 jobs lost,” Radatz said. “Like any layoff of that amount, it can only greatly impact the local businesses [negatively].”

Radatz added his own business, A.J. Rental, as well as gas stations, supermarkets and other Arenac County and Standish businesses were frequented by employees of the facility-to-be-closed.

“It’s a shock to the area,” he said.

Radatz says the higher-ups’ conclusion to close SMF and the factors — which according to a press release from the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) consisted of facility age, operational costs, needed improvements, inmates housed and proximity —used to determine the closings don’t make sense in this instance.

“How can you close a prison that’s been opened in 1990 when you still have Jackson prison, which is old and run-down, up and running?” Radatz said. “Don’t know what you could attribute it (closing) to — poor management?”

He says the closing of SMF will definitely have an undermining impact on the latest developments set to begin with the Saginaw-Chippewa Indian Tribe’s development entity Migizi Corporation announced last week. However, Radatz says Arenac County can’t lose focus on those developments amongst the devastating news, and must stay positive looking forward.

“We (citizens) can’t lose sight of the growth we do have,” the chamber president said. “[We] have to deal with it but stay positive.

“It’s another deeper hole we have to dig out of, but let’s move forward. We have to stay focused on expanding our economic development south of Standish and stay positive amongst all else.”

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