Opinion: FishPass is a chance to honor our legacy | Opinion
By Bob Spence
Since 1893, Spence Brothers has built landmark community projects across Michigan, many of which are in the heart of Traverse City.
We have built schools, town halls, post offices, Virginia hospitals, college sports arenas, office buildings, sewage treatment plants, and many other public projects. Recent local partners include Hickory Hills, Traverse City Light & Power, and Northwestern Michigan College. Each of them faced their own challenges and, occasionally, opposition. And yet everyone is still standing. We’ve been around long enough to discover exemplary projects that will forever improve a community’s landscape. FishPass is the game changer of this generation for Traverse City.
As a contractor, we were in the middle of the debate in the community. We have learned that it is often a small, vocal minority that opposes important projects – like FishPass. We’re used to it, yet completely optimistic, that FishPass will come to fruition because it’s right for this river and the many species that call it home.
We were one of eight contractors pursuing this globally significant project. The United States Army Corps of Engineers could have given the offer to a company from anywhere, but since it was Spence Brothers, 35 of our local employees and 15 local subcontractors with over 150 employees will get to work. Thanks to FishPass, wages in the millions will support local families.
In addition to the hundreds of local workers who will be directly affected by working on FishPass, we also expect the use of local and Michigan-made materials to be used. We estimate building FishPass will bring up to $ 5 million back to the local economy through material purchases, construction equipment rentals, and other non-employment metrics.
Construction delay costs while this project is involved in litigation does nothing to restore fish, build public facilities, plant trees, or contribute to the community.
In Traverse City, making change has never been easy. We are often quick to reject new aspirations for fear of growth. But smart growth is necessary, and it has enabled me and my fourth generation family business to call this place home for so many years.
The redesign of the Boardman / Ottaway River so far has been remarkable. I happen to be a fisherman; I love to fish! The idea of being part of FishPass, a project that will forever change the world’s approach to invasive species management, was too exciting an opportunity to pass up.
FishPass is a win-win to the city, the Boardman / Ottaway River, the Great Lakes, and the people employed by its construction. FishPass is an opportunity to honor the legacy of our family business by building vital infrastructure in the heart of our hometown. This local connection means that we care deeply about the outcome of the project. We want to be associated with a project that will stand the test of time and be an iconic hub of our community.
We are ready and excited to get to work.
About the author: Bob Spence III is the Regional President of Spence Brothers. He lives and works in Traverse City, where he also serves on the board of the City Opera House and the Association of General Contractors. He was a board member of Traverse City Light & Power and the Small Business Association of Michigan. For the past 15 years, Spence has been assistant coach for the Traverse City West ice hockey team and an avid nature lover.
About the Author: Bob Spence III is the Regional President of Spence Brothers. He lives and works in Traverse City, where he also serves on the board of the City Opera House and the Association of General Contractors. He was a board member of Traverse City Light & Power and the Small Business Association of Michigan. For the past 15 years, Spence has been assistant coach for the Traverse City West ice hockey team and an avid nature lover.