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Mackinac County boat building school secures CARES act funding

Christopher Burns
The Great Lakes Boat Building School in Cedarville recently received $2.7 million from the federal CARES act.

A northern Michigan boat building school recently secured funding from the federal CARES act. The Great Lakes Boat Building School in Cedarville will use the $2.7 million dollars to expand new-boat docking infrastructure and update old equipment.

The funds come at a time when the maritime industry is facing supply chain issues and work shortages.

"There's a strain on getting new boats produced because of the shortage of materials," said Tom Coates, director of development at the Great Lakes Boating School. "Existing boats need to be maintained and taken care of whether that's working on the fiberglass or the wood structure of them." 

The funds will help boost student enrollment by offering a new academic program in marine electronics. Employers in the maritime industry are in need to more workers who have this skillset.

Economic impact surveys conducted by Central Michigan University predict the funds from the CARES act will generate millions of dollars in economic activity in Mackinac County.

“Each student brings an economic impact of about 55,000 to the area," said Coates. "So, if we're adding another 30 students, the annual impact is going to go from $1.1 million to over $2 million.” 

Coates mentioned this is the largest acquisition of funds in the school’s history.

Rick Brewer has been news director at WCMU since February 2024.
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