Providing resources for communities and entrepreneurs to create and retain jobs in Antrim, Charlevoix & Cheboygan Counties.

Meet your NLEA Downtown Development Coordinator

Northern Lakes Economic Alliance    231-582-6482

Amanda Baker serves as Downtown Development Coordinator for East Jordan and Elk Rapids.

Northern Lakes Economic Alliance (NLEA) established their Downtown Development Coordinator position in early 2016 to meet specific needs for East Jordan and Elk Rapids. Amanda Baker, NLEA Downtown Development Coordinator, works with these local communities to facilitate downtown development plans, help build capacity, and accomplish specific work plan goals identified by each board of directors.

“After years of hearing about the struggles our communities have finding capable and experienced part time staff, NLEA brainstormed a joint position,” said Baker. “By collaborating with multiple communities, the NLEA found a creative solution to address the area needs with potential to expand the program to other communities.”

“NLEA is an excellent resource for all size communities in Northern Michigan. It allowed both of our communities to move forward daily in achieving the goals of the community,” said former Elk Rapids DDA Chair Andy LaPointe, who helped establish the Downtown Development Coordinator.

The NLEA answered the need for DDAs to fill a director’s role where communities were not be able to support a full time staff person on their own. The goal of this pilot program was to help each DDA create a stable foundation, to implement high priority projects, and to establish the NLEA as the connecting organization for local governments to work together. By contracting part time staff with the NLEA, they have the support and resources of the full NLEA staff as well as more longevity and technical skills.

 “The communities we are in have seen significant growth over the past three years of working with the NLEA,” said Baker. “East Jordan has seen the completion of multiple projects and the launch of new, larger projects, and Elk Rapids has completely restructured their DDA into a working organization ready to move forward with proposed goals.”

When not moving communities forward, Amanda lives in Indian River where she enjoys anything outdoors. One of the first projects she helped shape was downtown Wi-Fi in East Jordan, a project she says was important not only for community placemaking, but also so she could sit in the park while working.

If you are interested in exploring the NLEA’s ability to help guide your community, reach out to the office at (231) 582-6482, or email

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