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Battle Creek Area Chamber of Commerce hosts virtual 2021 State of the Community

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The Battle Creek Area Chamber of Commerce hosts a virtual 2021 State of the Community meeting. (WWMT / Screengrab from Battle Creek Area Chamber of Commerce){ }

As Battle Creek kicked off 2021, construction, orange cones and new developments were seen for miles across Cereal City. Community leaders said in a pandemic those sights were a good thing: A sign of hope and new beginnings.

With 2020 behind us, Battle Creek Area Chamber of Commerce and Battle Creek Unlimited met virtually on Tuesday for their annual State of the Community to look ahead at what's to come for 2021.

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According to Kara Beer, the city moved into year two of its strategic plan, which included new development, construction, urban housing, and additions to the downtown area to recruit new residents and businesses.

Joe Sobieralski, the President and CEO of Battle Creek Unlimited, said starting 2021 with these plans in store for Battle Creek was exciting.

"Looking ahead to 2021, COVID-19 will continue to disrupt our community," Sobieralski said. "There will be winners and losers but hopefully this vaccine or we all get vaccinated by June, July, August, and then come summer we return to normalcy.”

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One update released in Tuesday's meeting, The McCamly Plaza Hotel. Sobieralski said it was still in need of significant investment but had plans to fully open in 2022.

New Holland Brewery, another project slated for completion in 2021, was another topic on the virtual meeting. Sobieralski said the brewery should be ready to open later this year.

"New Holland Brewery is still planned to be working towards an opening in 2021. We are working on designing the inside to be accustomed to spacing for COVID-19," Sobieralski said.

Officials highlighted the train in Battle Creek which helps residents and companies gain traction. For 2021, officials said they hoped a new $500,000 pilot program would entice existing and new residents to move into the city limits of Battle Creek.

Affordable housing, another item discussed during the State of the Community. Officials said they were working to create more affordable housing, something they said they know is a need in Battle Creek.

According to officials, Sophia Square will be in place of the former site of Shranks Cafeteria, and the former Hamblin Opera House was scheduled to be restored to create mixed-income housing options downtown.

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