Bay City is changing, and it’s changing fast.
Originally a transplant from Cass City, I started investing in the area in 1987 and decided to move here in 1989. Bay City was a different community back then, but it’s been so long that I don’t remember much of what Downtown had to offer (which may be saying something in itself). As the years went on, Bay City began picking up steam- right up until the housing crash of 2008. Life changed for a lot of people, but slowly, Bay City started to move forward again. Investors from out of the area saw new opportunity here. The energy, people, and potential came back stronger than ever before. Businesses were thriving, restaurants were opening, and people were starting to take risks again. That all stopped when, like straight out of a horror movie, Covid came and shut it all down again. But this downturn was different. As bad as it got during the heart of the Covid pandemic, there was still a sense of hope and optimism, that Bay City would rebound and thrive again. The city is defined by characteristics that will not let the transformation stop: creativity and persistence. Necessity breeds innovation, and to the credit of the Bay City leadership & the Downtown Bay City businesses, they took something that had huge, worldwide, negative ramifications (Covid) and molded its effects into something that catapulted Bay City into territories unknown, creating the ‘Feet on the Street’ program, an outdoor dining initiative spearheaded by the city of Bay City, local business owners and the Bay Area Chamber of Commerce.
Where are all the people coming from? After 29 years, Bay County’s declining population reversed as young people started moving to Bay City, visiting the Great Lakes Bay Region, and influencing the communities for the better. When business colleagues come into town, they are pleasantly surprised with what Bay City offers and how it has changed over the decades. I am able to show them around the city not as a Cass City transplant, but as a proud resident whose roots are becoming #BayCityStrong.
Bay City used to be a town you drove through on your way to somewhere else. But now, Bay City is becoming a premiere destination on the east side of Michigan. People from Saginaw, Midland, and all over the Bay Region are traveling to Bay City for work, for the weekend, or even just for an evening meal or concert in the park. The traffic throughout the city is increasing as people are flocking to area marinas to put their boats in the river for the beautiful summer days. As the energy of the city increases, so does the demand for a new Uptown/Downtown housing as the market is as hot as it has ever been.
We may never be the size of Traverse City, but can we become a premiere destination on the east side of Michigan? Absolutely. If we embrace everything we have to offer and continue maximizing our communities’ positives, our potential is limitless. Can you imagine the thousands of people travelling north on I75 taking exit 163 to drive through Bay City? Imagine if all the people travelling north knew what Bay City had to offer without having to drive the extra two hours. As working remotely continues to become a mainstay in our world, Bay City has yet another outstanding opportunity to attract the next group of people to invest in and grow the community.
As we have proven again and again, Bay City’s normal is to change, overcome, and prosper. As we continue forward through the summer events that Bay City has to offer, we are on the verge of returning to our old normal. Indulge yourself in the pleasures of Bay City, get your feet on the street, and make it a summer to remember as you enjoy one of Michigan’s hidden treasures.