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New Chocolay manager has lived in area before

The new Chocolay Township manager has a built-in advantage of sorts over anyone from the outside who accepts a position and relocates here; he’s already lived in this area — twice.

William DeGroot said his father was a U.S. Air Force fighter pilot, flying with the 87th Fighter Interceptor Squadron at the former K.I. Sawyer Air Force Base during his early elementary school years. That was his first time living in the area.

“I was fortunate enough to come back for college,” DeGroot, a former financial analyst and transit planner for the Ann Arbor Transit Authority, said for a Mining Journal story on the issue. “So this is my third coming back if you will … I have always wanted to come back home. I am thankful to be home, and thankful to be in Chocolay.”

DeGroot said living in the area twice before gives him a unique perspective about the economic transformation and the pattern of growth of the region.

“After leaving the area and then after these 10- to 15-year chunks coming back, I have seen the growth from afar as well as some of the changes,” DeGroot said. “I remember the Jack’s IGA and the A&W on the corner as the main draw for the 28/41 corridor. Now seeing the transition of having the small commercial center, the furniture store, McDonald’s and now having a connection to the south side of the road. I’ve kind of seen these chunks and these changes. So, I wouldn’t say that this is just a opportunity or a challenge for Chocolay, but it is for the region.”

DeGroot arrives onsite at a time of significant transformation of the entire area. Minerals extraction and wood products continue to be mainstay employment centers, but area planners and decision makers are increasingly focused on so-called green or environmentally friendly endeavors.

Additionally, the area, with the construction of the new hospital, is positioning itself as a medical referral center with an increasing number of specialties available.

We welcome the DeGroot family to the area.