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Author: Amanda Loveland

Jackson Popcorn Depot Keeps Jackson Sweet

In Jackson lies a shop that erases all thoughts you had about popcorn. When you walk into Jackson Popcorn Depot, you can’t avoid the childlike wonder that makes the phrase “like a kid in a candy store” all too real. The walls are lined with colorful treats, bags waiting to be filled, and snacks you can’t imagine beyond your wildest, candied dreams.

To this family business, popcorn means much more than just movie night. High school sweethearts Greg and Becky Vancalbergh went into the popcorn business in 2016. At the time, the shop they had taken over sold popcorn, nuts, and taffy. As the years went on, Greg and Becky started to sprinkle in what now makes Jackson Popcorn Depot stand out so much, like nostalgic or even freeze-dried candies. In February of 2022, they moved into their current location, just across the hall from their old one, but now three times the size. Jackson Popcorn Depot has proven to be such a growing success with a cult following, they will even soon be expanding to the Lansing area.

When you think of popcorn, you’re probably thinking of a giant bucket full of movie theater butter. Jackson Popcorn Depot doesn’t limit your flavor profile to just that; think tutti-fruity, Chicago, caramel, or jalapeno. Their caramel corn is unlike any you’ve had. At 70 years old, it’s one of their best-kept secrets. Despite their both tantalizingly salty and satisfyingly sweet popcorn, Jackson Popcorn Depot is not just limited to popcorn. Oh, no, they have almost 2,000 candies to try. It sounds extreme, but when you walk in the brightly colored doorway, their supply is wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling. 500 of those types of candy can’t be found anywhere else locally.

Their freeze-dried candies (yes, freeze-dried) aren’t intended for astronauts. You’ll be surprised to find your favorite candies like Skittles, Milk Duds, or even gummy worms can be transformed into a fun new candy that’s out of this world. Also unique to Jackson Popcorn Depot are cinnamon-roasted nuts all year round. Think cotton candy can only be found when the fair rolls into town? Jackson Popcorn Depot makes its own cotton candy to satisfy your sweet tooth whenever you please, coming in more than just blue and pink. They also have flavors like watermelon, cherry, birthday cake, and chocolate. If sour is up your street, they are the only place in town with Pucker Powder Bits.

Though Jackson Popcorn Depot is the ideal spot for a sweet escape, they can bring their treats to you for any special event. Want to show some staff appreciation? Hosting an office party? Need favors for a private event? Even a shower, graduation, or birthday party? Jackson Popcorn Depot does it all. They even create your own custom label for whatever products you select. Make it popcorn, gummies, cotton candy, Jackson Popcorn Depot offers three different sizes for you to choose from, depending on the scale of your event. If you’re looking for something a bit more personalized and special, like an award, prize, or employee of the month, Jackson Popcorn Depot also offers gift baskets and gift boxes, choc-full of treats that will make anyone’s eyes grow wide.

As a family business, they treat their entire staff like family.” Greg explained that they’re always joking and having fun when they come to work. “You’re at a candy store, it’s meant to be fun and upbeat,” Greg shared. Each of Becky and Greg’s two kids have done their time working at Jackson Popcorn Depot and are excited to keep them involved for years to come.

Whether you need a pick-me-up, are in search of a fun gift for a loved one, or want to order a few gift boxes, pop on over to Jackson Popcorn Depot for nostalgia, snacks, and fun. There will be no shortage of sweet possibilities.

Normalizing Mental Health Diagnoses in the Workplace

May is Mental Health Month. Not that it isn’t essential to acknowledge mental health needs all the time, but we’re currently calling attention to the importance of hiring those with a mental health diagnosis. Ann Monroe, CEO of A.R.E. Inc. gives an in-depth reflection on why normalizing mental health diagnoses in the workplace and how it can benefit your team as a whole.

A.R.E. Inc. is a peer-run nonprofit with a mission to help those in recovery during their mental health journey. Not only that, but they are also known for their drop-in center, support groups, and recovery plans for those with substance abuse. Peer-run means that each person employed with A.R.E. Inc. has a mental health diagnosis. This is not by coincidence; they require it. Everyone who shows up to work each day has overcome some sort of challenge to work there, and there are plenty of reasons why.

Firstly, it’s important for those in recovery to see examples of others succeeding in their own recovery. With about 60 members dropping in each day, it’s essential for them to see examples of hope, strength, and mostly, trust. Those in recovery are more trusting of a lived experience with mental illness. They are more understanding, because of similar experiences and struggles, and a general lack of ego. “Connection,” as Ann described, “is the most important element of life. If we don’t have it, we lose hope.”

A.R.E. Inc. has two locations, one in Jackson and the other in Hillsdale. They have been known to hire within when they see potential in members who come to the drop-in centers. About one-third of their employees are returning citizens, and also aim to include diversity in all respects, including race and the LGBTQ+ community. Drop-in centers are mostly run by certified peer-support specialists. Those who are helping members have once been in a similar position. 

The staff at A.R.E. Inc. is incredibly loyal, according to Ann. They want to give back to the same people who helped them. Mental illness can cause strays from families, and at the drop-in centers, members are able to find their own families. Some of the struggles members face inhibit them from holding down a job, so drop-in centers allow them to socialize with others, talk about their recovery, play pool, relax in the “zen room,” or enjoy a coffee-house atmosphere. Recovery, to those at A.R.E. Inc., means that you’re learning to live successfully with a mental health diagnosis. With A.R.E. Inc, members learn that they can still have a fun, robust life, while being able to love and feel loved by those around them, without allowing challenges to derail them.

But, how can you ask potential employees about their mental health? Here’s the thing: you can’t. What you CAN do as a leader, is let any employees or potential future employees that their workplace is a safe environment. Leaders in business can also encourage people to speak up when they have mental health needs. There are plenty of perks to hiring someone with a mental health diagnosis. Ann shares the qualities of those that she works with on a daily basis are compassionate, tenacious, resilient, creative, and have respect for others’ life experiences. Being an employer of someone with a mental health diagnosis shows value to employees more as a person, rather than just someone they see each day from 9 to 5. Successful leaders are transparent about their struggles and reassure those around them that they are in a safe space. 

Twenty-five percent of the population has a mental health diagnosis. If that’s something that’s avoided, that singles out a huge chunk of potential and talent. By opening yourself up to those with a mental health diagnosis, you’re opening yourself up to a greater talent pool and more diversified options. Ann advised that business leaders hire people for who they are, not by how many degrees they may or may not have. This can include the formerly incarcerated and those with a mental health diagnosis. If you create an atmosphere of transparency, you are going to build a loyal workforce. 

If you need advice or resources on how to create a workplace more inclusive to those with mental health diagnoses, contact Ann Monroe, at

Street Construction Projects for 2023

Orange traffic barrels: something each Michigander is all too familiar with. Though construction can be seen as an inconvenience for some, there’s nothing like having freshly paved roads to drive on your morning commute. The City of Jackson has 14 infrastructure improvement projects planned for 2023, and some are already in motion. Here’s what to expect.

April 17 of this year, marked the beginning of these projects that are set to run through late fall. Though they’re labeled as “street construction projects,” this doesn’t just mean new roads. Improvements include water main replacements, street resurfacing, trail maintenance, traffic signals, and more. There is so much infrastructure beyond streets alone, and all are necessary to keep communities fresh and safe. Aaron Dimick, Public Information Officer of the City of Jackson, shared the importance of refreshing Jackson’s infrastructure. Jackson is an old city; therefore, upkeep is continuously necessary as time passes.

Aaron shared a few high-profile plans for infrastructure updates in Jackson, but a full list can be found on the City of Jackson’s [website]. North Perrine Street, one of the first locations for reconstruction, is a 40-year-old street that is riddled with potholes. Roads typically last about 20-30 years, so North Perrine has been on their list for some time. Later in April, construction is set to begin on Brown Street, from Morrell Street to Michigan Avenue. A new trail is being built, similar to the new sidewalk and resurfaced streets by Cascades Park. This expansion will add more connectivity to that neighborhood, as well as between downtown and Cascades.

Reconstructing of the MLK Equality Trail will begin in mid-July. The city has acquired the funding to re-create the trail, piece by piece, starting with West Prospect to West Ave. The trail itself is about 20 years old and starting to show its age. When that reconstruction is finished, the trail will consist of a 12-foot-wide concrete path. This path will be safer to share with other travelers, better for strollers, safer for bikers, and more accessible for those with disabilities. Ultimately, once complete, this trail will be more enjoyable for current and future Jackson residents. Aaron continued to point out that trails make for great non-motorized transportation, and with additional safe trails, that opportunity will make Jackson a more pleasant place to live and play.

When asked if there were any plans for highly requested infrastructure updates, Aaron listed a few. Wildwood Avenue to Ganson Street is scheduled for resurfacing. North Street, between Wisner and West, will receive some TLC with reconstructed pavement in that area this September. Neighborhood streets and water projects are coming as well. MDOT is continuing to work on the railroad reconstruction and is not under the direction of the City of Jackson.

With the coming construction, detours, and road closures, it’s important for the people of Jackson to remember that these projects are ultimately making Jackson a better place to live. It’s easy for residents to become frustrated when their street isn’t done, or on the other hand when their street closes. Aaron explained that planning these reconstruction projects are almost like a puzzle and often planned years in advance. Those at the City of Jackson ARE paying attention to what needs of the city, but all plans are dependent on funding and available resources. Areas with high traffic volume require available funding sooner than others, but that doesn’t mean those less-traveled areas aren’t on the city’s radar.

Be mindful that there are plenty of projects on Jackson’s list, and they are doing the best they can. It’s not feasible to fix every road at once. If you’re nervous about upcoming construction near you, the best thing you can do is to arm yourself with information before it happens.

N. Perrine St.

You can also follow the City of Jackson on Facebook and keep tabs on the live document on their website. Note that some dates on the construction schedules are subject to change, as start dates are often fluid. Start dates can also mean that the area is being inspected by construction, so don’t be nervous if you don’t see hard hats right away.

Construction is temporary, so don’t forget the improvement it will bring to the community for years to come!

MDP Diesel & Auto Prioritizes Honesty and Efficiency

Taking your car or truck in for repair is often a huge hassle. It can mean taking time out of your schedule, money lost, or having to rearrange your entire day. If you’re looking for an auto and truck repair shop that will work efficiently and keep your best interest in mind, look no further than MDP Diesel & Auto.

Mike Winter, owner of MDP Diesel & Auto, started the business in 2012 in Chelsea. Spending his weekends working on diesels and passenger vehicles on his own time while taking classes and getting through college is how his shop came to be. After six and a half years, they outgrew their spot and moved to their current Clark Lake Road location to continue to build on what they already had. They saw a tremendous amount of growth during a time when they were the only independent local business in the area equipped for auto and light-duty diesel repair, including ¾ ton to one-ton diesel trucks, semis, and equipment.

Unlike many repair shops, MDP Diesel & Auto is equipped to handle jobs big and small. Their services range from oil changes to full engine repair. There is almost no limit to what services Mike and his team can offer. They specialize in alignments, brakes, steering and suspension, tires, batteries, air conditioning, DOT inspections, and much more. However, it isn’t just what services they offer, it’s how they treat their customers. That’s why they get customers that travel from as far as Northern Michigan, just to receive the level of treatment and efficiency that Mike’s team provides.

The team at MDP Diesel & Auto focuses on the importance of a one-on-one customer relationship. They treat everyone who walks in their door like family. So much so, that a common phrase they use within their team is to “treat every car like it’s your grandmother’s.” Something that MDP Diesel & Auto is known for is their step-by-step communication, giving consistent updates, and even following up to see how your repair is holding up. Having fast and honest diagnoses and turnarounds is something that Mike and the team pride themselves on, and this is something that applies to both fleet and commercial vehicles.

“Time is money, and we understand that,” Mike explained. Being without a vehicle, whether it’s for personal or business purposes, is a huge inconvenience and often feels like money is being taken out of your pockets the longer you’re without one. That’s why honesty is a main priority. Those at MDP Diesel & Auto are able to be upfront on what exact needs your vehicle has, and if financing is what is necessary for you, they can do that. They also prioritize repairs on safety items and are open to putting a hold on any repairs that aren’t urgent, so that you’re not losing more money than you’re prepared to spend.


Not only does the entire team work efficiently and cost-effectively, but they also consistently offer a variety of specials and deals. If you mention this article, you may receive 10% off a repair. (Some exclusions apply.) Beyond that, they offer monthly specials, which you can stay updated on via text message. If you’re a Chamber Member, MDP Diesel & Auto also offers a Member 2 Member Discount. See what they’re offering here.

If you or your business are looking for someone loyal and trustworthy to repair your fleet or vehicle, set up a meeting with Mike or Kim to see exactly how they can fit your needs. There’s a team of Master certified technicians and over 120 years of combined experience waiting for you. You may even get to meet the office dog, Moose! Give them a call at 734-385-4208 or visit their website.

Experience Jackson Reflects on 2022

Even though we’re all looking ahead, ready to jump into the warmer months, Experience Jackson wants to take a look back at the successful year they had in 2022, in preparation for an equally as eventful 2023. Experience Jackson exists to support local events and festivals, as well as bring visitors to Jackson County in order to see what Jackson has to offer while supporting economic development within the community. Experience Jackson and their community partners strove to invite people to return to Jackson and see the development and evolution for themselves throughout 2022.

Experience Jackson runs multiple campaigns throughout the year, including golf, museums, and an outdoor campaign. They began with ice fishing, hoping to bring visitors from the surrounding areas to experience the sport in some of Jackson’s many lakes. As the ice thawed and spring came, so did many of Jackson’s classic events. The Rose Festival Parade made a grand return, where Experience Jackson’s own JACK the Elephant had his own shining moment.

Throughout the year, Experience Jackson was featured in a new series on JTV, titled A Visit with Experience Jackson. Where Experience Jackson’s Marketing & Development Manager, Rachel Buchanan, made her way with Andy Hawley and the rest of the JTV crew to highlight several Jackson County hotspots, like The Parlour, JAX 60, and Ella Sharp Museum.

Experience Jackson also sparked a new partnership with the Southside Summer Festival Series, celebrating and honoring Jackson’s black community with events throughout the entire summer. Some recurring partnerships also occurred, with other Jackson favorites, like the Birds, Blooms, and Butterflies Festival at the Dahlem Center, the summer Cruise-In and Concerts, the ORS Race Series, and Sandhill Crane Vineyard’s Running Between the Vines race.

Jackson also welcomed the larger events that the community has grown to love over the years. The highly anticipated Hot Air Jubilee made its return in July, where Experience Jackson served as the Hospitality Sponsor, offering guests insight into activities and attractions they can enjoy during their Jackson County Visit. At the Art, Beer, and Wine Festival, Experience Jackson sponsored the photo booth to help commemorate the day, while having a booth of their own to chat with patrons about their time at this fan-favorite festival. According to Rachel, the biggest (literally) partnership had to be with the Bright Walls Finale. Because of Experience Jackson’s partnership, the Jackson Chamber and Experience Jackson office now have a huge mural, proudly painted on the back of our building by California artist, Ricky Watts. Ricky painted a brightly colored 48-foot mural, that is a joy for the team to take in each morning as they come to work.

Summer continued with a handful of bus tours and motorcoaches and paying special attention to bringing groups from out of the area for weddings and tours. Michigan International Speedway always brings thousands of visitors to Jackson. This past year, Experience Jackson was able to sponsor a driver, Ryan Vargas in a No. 6 Chevrolet, for the NASCAR Xfinity Race Series. This exciting sponsorship allowed Experience Jackson to be advertised at high speed as Ryan zipped around the track.

The chill that brought on fall offered the opportunity for alternative ways to get outdoors, rather than NASCAR races or festivals. Jackson County welcomed the inaugural Rode to Hell gravel bike race to the Waterloo State Recreation Area in October. This race spans from Grass Lake to Hell, with a total of 100 miles, and a variety of shorter races stretching in between. They are looking forward to bringing the race back in 2023. After the race, participants enjoyed live music by the band Bombargo.

As a Community Champion level Member of the Chamber, Experience Jackson made the most of their membership in a few ways. They utilized their Chamber Membership by sponsoring new Chamber Members, like Daniel Martin’s Drinks & Deceptions, Wayland Golf Club, and Monster Box Theatre. Experience Jackson also sent one of their staffers to Leadership Jackson, a nine-month premiere professional development put on by the Chamber, where upcoming business leaders can connect with one another, and further develop their professional development skills in areas like HR, government, accounting, personal branding, and more. You may have also seen Experience Jackson at one of the many Off the Clocks the Chamber has hosted in 2023, in which Experience Jackson sponsored the bar, making the networking fun, casual, and comfortable for all in attendance.

With that, Experience Jackson is looking forward to another, not only successful but busy year! Like in 2022, Experience Jackson is, once again, excited to be partnering with statewide entities like Pure Michigan, MLive, and Under the Radar. As always, it’s an honor for Experience Jackson to be working with the Jackson County hotels, in order to bring new visitors to the community, and expose more and more people to all that the community has to offer. Stay up-to-date on what’s next for Experience Jackson here.

If you’re interested in partnering with Experience Jackson on an upcoming event, fill out the form here.

Capturing Jackson’s Memories Since 2009

Picture This…Jackson has been a cornerstone of the Jackson community for decades. Some may remember a small photo store in the Westwood Mall, where Kyle Hockley, co-owner of Picture This…Jackson got his start in the community. In 2009, Kyle and his business partner, David Hood, got word from Ritz Camera that their store was next to be closed, due to the upcoming recession. Before opening at the bottom of the recession, attending conferences and conventions, people in the industry wondered, “Who would open a photo store right now?”

Years later, Picture This…Jackson has grown to be an internationally recognized photo imaging store. What they found as an old office space ended up being the store they now call home, located on Wisner Street. Their store has seen plenty of evolution over time, including doubling its size by 2016. The reason Picture This…Jackson is so successful and is as widely recognized as it is, especially after opening at such an uncertain time, is because it’s not your typical photography store.

Picture This…Jackson offers a wide variety of products and services. They are an imaging store, not limited to just prints.  They take advantage of opportunities through national buying groups IPI (Independent Photo Imagers) and Pro. Pro offers high-quality cameras and photography equipment. These associations allow Picture This…Jackson to compete in camera sales and in photo products compared to the national competition.

They can print up to 42” on most materials and 12”x18” on glass or metal. If you’re serious about printing your pictures, Picture This…Jackson is the place to do so. Whether it’s the way they’re displayed in the hall of your home or given to family members as a unique gift. They also offer gallery mounts, video and film transfers, collages, memorial presentations, yard signs, and banners. Kyle and his team can revive old video tapes and can even be trusted with restoring and scanning those vintage photos of past loved ones.

“It’s not just a picture business, it’s a memory business. It’s all about memories,” Kyle reflected, as he explained that serving not only Jackson but patrons who drive from all over the region to receive the service the team at Picture This…Jackson provides. Kyle continued that those who visit the store leave happy because they leave with a memory, whether that memory has been restored or digitally saved to enjoy for the rest of time. Neither Kyle nor David predicted how much success they would see when opening in 2009. “It kind of just happened,” Kyle said. The fact that thousands of people are thankful to have services like this in Jackson is really something special. Something Kyle hears all the time from people who drive from outside the area is along the lines of, “I wish our town had something like this.” Picture This…Jackson gets the opportunity to touch people’s lives, near and far.

Camera and film enthusiasts are thrilled to hear that Picture This…Jackson utilizes a wet lab versus a dry lab. Dry labs are often what you’ll see when printing your photos from the same places you buy your groceries, often ending up with low-quality prints. In a wet lab, laser beams expose an image on light-sensitive paper, ensuring a much clearer picture, perfect for professional photos.

When you’re not seeing the team in the store, you might find them at most local high schools photographing sports teams. You may have even seen them taking preschool pictures or even your professional headshot. They offer a wide variety of photography services, from corporate to sports leagues.

Picture This…Jackson is home to a small but mighty team. Kyle and David crossed paths a few times before working together professionally at their small shop in the mall, when David was doing photography on the side at the time. Now, David oversees all the tech and networking behind the business. He shoots leagues on the weekend and captures other events as well. Other team members include Roy, their product specialist, who “knocks it out of the park every time.” Michelle, the in-house graphic design expert. Paula manages the lab and shoots seniors. Megan works in the back room, doing the dye sublimation of products, and even fixes their machines, troubleshooting problems their equipment may have. Leo is a 75-year-old retired minister, who has always wanted to try photography. “He’s REALLY good,” Kyle shared. Craig is a former prison guard and is now an associate at the store, proving everyone has their niche. Wendy, Kyle’s wife, does the books and keeps the business in order behind the scenes. Mike teaches their ever-so-popular photography classes and is also an in-house graphic design expert.

Jackson is lucky to have such a unique asset. Memory making is one thing, but preserving and saving those memories for a lifetime is something that Picture This…Jackson specializes in. Stop in and see for yourself; you’ll find walls lined with countless ways to preserve memories of your own.

A Look Inside the Jackson Area Career Center

Growing up and approaching college can be intimidating for young minds. What if college isn’t right for them? What if it is, but they want to practice in their field before putting thousands of dollars towards a degree? The Jackson Area Career Center offers those possibilities to high school students, along with so much more.

The Jackson Area Career Center (JACC) isn’t just a building on the outskirts of town where students slip away to for class, it is an extension of high school. The JACC is a career and technical education school (CTE), where students can enjoy hands-on learning while acquiring college credit and real-life experience. February is CTE Month, which means that the JACC will be hosting an open house on March 1, 2023, to see what career paths may be awaiting students in Jackson County. If they find one they’re interested in, they have the chance to enroll that day, with the help of their school counselor. This will be the only time the Career Center is open to the public. High school sophomores and juniors can familiarize themselves with the many programs the JACC has to offer. Those programs include:

Automotive Collision Repair
Automotive Technology Services
Careers in Education
Computer Information Technology
Culinary Arts
Dental Health
Health Technician
Law Enforcement
Manufacturing Technologies
Sales and Marketing
Visual Communications

The JACC adapts to school schedules, replacing some typical electives. All local high schools offer transportation to students who cannot drive themselves. They are accepting students in public schools, private schools, and even homeschooled students.

Each program has various focuses and options within each category. As each program is different, not all programs run the same. For example, the health technician program is a two-year program. In the first year, students learn foundational terminology used in the medical field and receive CPR, first aid, and proper PPE training. During their second year, they get to focus more on what part of their field interests them most. Recently, Health Technician students were interested in fields like labor and delivery or orthopedics. From there, they are able to hear from guest speakers in those fields and practice a bit of what they may be learning with hands-on, real-life experience, often from local businesses and organizations. In the past, the JACC has partnered with Henry Ford Health to pass on the proper resources and contacts to students. This can be enlightening, to seniors especially, because it helps them get a taste of what they want to be. Principal Dan Draper stressed that “It’s important to figure it out as you go,” as so many students are pressured to pursue a college degree, though oftentimes, students aren’t fully aware of what they’re committing to before they start college.

In the past, high schools have been known to have a college push, and the JACC strives to provide proper exploration for students. A term they use often is “Try before you buy,” because these programs can literally save students thousands.

Students in the Agriscience program learn to birth pigs, raise them, and show and sell them at the county fair. Cosmetology students can get licensed through the program that the JACC offers, and have plenty of practice, as Dan Draper pointed to his own head, sharing that a student that day had given him a haircut.

Each class can hold up to 24 students, and they receive industry experience from classically trained professionals in their field. From there, each student is helped with building a talent portfolio that they can take with them as they move on to college classes or job interviews. Though the JACC is a CTE school, it is not just for kids who don’t see college in their future. There are programs in cybersecurity, manufacturing, health, and more that offer a “13th grade,” in which students are able to graduate with an Associate degree.

The JACC takes new enrollments through March. If you don’t know a potential Career Center student, consider visiting their greenhouse for the Agriscience/FFA Plant and Flower Sale on May 6 and May 13, where you can pick up fresh flowers and more. Kaci Babineau, Marketing and Special Projects Coordinator, explained that the lines have been impressive in past years, so come early! Another upcoming event that the JACC celebrates is Signing Day, which celebrates the students who have a plan for when they leave the Career Center, whether that’s continuing to pursue a degree or those who are entering the workforce.

If you know a student who may be interested in kickstarting their career in a CTE setting, consider the Jackson Area Career Center. Students will be able to surround themselves with others on similar paths, ready to learn about what their future can hold. Call the Career Center today at 517-768-5100.

Southern Michigan Bank & Trust Comes to Jackson

When searching for a bank, commitment, trust, and reliability may be three of the main components of your search. John Waldron, Jackson Market President of Southern Michigan Bank & Trust (SMBT), explained that, with three new branches coming to Jackson County, their commitment to Jackson is a top priority. Though new to Jackson County, SMBT has been around for 150 years. Their brick-and-mortar locations may be new to Jackson, but this is not the first time they have done lending in the community.

SMBT extends from Kalamazoo to Jackson and south. Headquartered in Coldwater, the team at SMBT are ready to get their hands in the Jackson market. Having a commitment to downtown development, they will have a branch with full-service production on the lower level of The 200 building on North Jackson Street. They are hoping to complete that branch, come second quarter. Additionally, their loan production office will be on the fourth floor of the post office’s building on West Michigan Avenue. The team at SMBT is excited to be part of the hustle and bustle that makes downtown Jackson both unique and exciting. Outside of downtown, they will have a separate, brand-new branch on the corner of Weatherwax and Horton Road, keeping them accessible to multiple areas of the community.

Between both John Waldron and Bill Jors, Senior Vice President and Commercial Loan Officer, the two of them have 60 years of banking experience. Being local to Jackson, they look forward to making SMBT a trusted community bank. John explained it as having a “local feel,” with several community partners and a strong local team. The two of them have served Jackson in their field for several years, and they look forward to continuing with what is the eighth-largest bank headquartered in Michigan. Since the decision was made to bring SMBT to the area, the Jackson team has grown by seven new hires, and are continuing to grow their team.

“If you would like creative solutions and local decisions by financial professionals that have lived and banked here for 30 years, then we are your bank.”

John Waldron

With the plan to serve Jackson as a committed, trusted, and reliable community bank, they plan to meet the needs for whatever types of financing Jackson requires, big or small. Southern Michigan Bank & Trust handles all types of banking and lending, including commercial lending, residential, and wealth management.

Call them today: John: (517)474-2446, Bill: (517)740-2733

Big Plans Coming for JAX 60

JAX 60 has been a Jackson staple for decades. You may have once known it as Airport Lanes, maybe even back when it had just 36 lanes. Since then, it has had an additional 24 lanes added on, hosted multiple PBA tours, and has had a total refresh and update. If you haven’t stepped into JAX 60 lately, it may not be the same bowling alley you once remembered as a kid.

Airport Lanes

Airport Lanes was built in 1959, long before it was owned by David Small’s Fun Time Centers. Since then, it has been added onto twice, the last being in 1972, with a total of 60 lanes, hence, the JAX 60 name. The name shifted to JAX 60 on July 1, 2018, and is currently overseen by Josh Solomon, General Manager.

Josh grew up in a bowling town, in Youngstown, Ohio. He took his first job at 14 in a bowling center as a pin chaser. From there, he moved on to the pro shop, then managed a bowling center. Josh even grew up in a bowling family, and Youngstown was known as an industrial bowling town with local companies all having a team, much like Jackson. “Bowling’s always been my thing. It’s in my blood,” Josh stated when discussing his background.

JAX 60 Present Day
JAX 60

Since then, Josh has won state championships for bowling and even coached. When he moved to Jackson, the first thing he noticed was that Jackson reminded him of the bowling town he grew up in and that our local bowling alley had tournament potential. Over the years, there have been many conversations with owner David Small, surrounding what kind of updates could happen and what the bowling alley could be. Renovations started with new keypads, scoring system, ball returns, and more.

The original renovation, before its most recent, started the day Josh and David Small took over. New paint, new floors, and historical photos that lined the alleys made a huge impact on the bowling alley. Conversations about the most recent renovation, which has completely upgraded the entire facility, began in 2020. This upgrade happened because Josh and David wanted to give bowlers more space. When bowling alleys were designed in the 50s-70s, they were meant strictly for teams. Since then, bowling has transitioned to a family event. JAX 60 now provides Jackson locals with a place where a group of any size can have fun and enjoy themselves.

Mavrix bar and lounge has an expanded menu with the homemade, freshly fired pizza customers have always loved. It has a more inviting floor plan, with more TVs for entertainment and a custom-built bar, making it the perfect place to relax and have a drink between games. If you’re at JAX 60 for more than just bowling, their newly expanded arcade, Top Gun Arcade, now has 56 games, which are all waiting for you behind lanes five and six.

Top Gun Arcade

The new design of JAX 60 offers a balance between groups looking for a fun way to spend a day and avid tournament bowlers. JAX 60’s new and improved atmosphere proves a quality product that Jackson didn’t have before for friends and families to enjoy while providing a venue for professional bowlers. Josh explained that the renovations “give Jackson a place to come that is safe, clean, and invites you to spend some time.”

JAX 60 has hosted four PBA 50 tour stops. In 2022, the PBA National Tour started at JAX 60 and is coming back in 2023 from March 6-9. Hosting tournaments, such as these, is something that both Josh and David have always wanted to do, as two people who grew up watching the PBA tour on Saturday afternoons. They want to give as much as they can back to the bowlers they’ve watched for years on TV. Josh shared that the PBA 50 tour is much different than it has been in the past. In fact, the first ever PBA 50 World Series of Bowling is going to be hosted at JAX 60, “Putting Jackson in the history books,” as Josh said.

Being from Youngstown, Ohio, I was defined by the bowling community. When we moved to Jackson, a place that was already a bowling community similar to where I grew up, I told my wife, ‘I’m home.’

If you’ve been looking for a spot your friends, coworkers, or the entire family can enjoy, consider reserving a lane at JAX 60. What seems like a fun activity will quickly become an experience worth so much more.

The City of Jackson Sponsors Six New Chamber Members

As a Community Champion Level Member of the Chamber, the City of Jackson has committed to sponsoring six Chamber Memberships for the next year. Jackson’s City Manager, Jonathan Greene, recently sat down with three of the six business owners whose Memberships they will be sponsoring. From businesses that have been with Jackson for over one hundred years, to startups that are just setting up their brick-and-mortar storefronts. Of the six, Peggy Russell (Peggy’s Custom Floral Designs), SharRonnie Garrett (SharRonnie Garrett Photography), and Latoya Smith (First Crown Hair & Beauty) met Jonathan Greene at City Hall to share a bit of background on what their businesses have to offer.

Peggy Russell, founder of Peggy’s Custom Floral Designs, specializes in silk floral arrangements. Her passion began when she created her own floral arrangements for her wedding. Then, during her 30-year career at Macy’s, she created arrangements for clients. Upon her and her husband’s retirement, Peggy decided it was finally time to pursue her longtime dream. After many thoughts and many prayers, she’s recently started her business and has even secured a spot in the Jackson Crossing Mall.

Like Peggy, SharRonnie Garrett has also been working on a storefront of her own, which she is in the process of remodeling. As the owner of SharRonnie Garrett Photography, she specializes in family and senior photos. She says kids are her niche, as she shoots a lot of milestone photos and birthdays. Some of her clients have stuck with her since their newborn shoot, continuously coming back to document each milestone. In her new studio, which she is remodeling with her husband, she is excited to have a creative space to play around. Even at public events, SharRonnie likes to pop in to shoot some photos for her portfolio. She has been spending the past couple of years continuously practicing and perfecting her art, and with the help of her mentor, Miame Jarrett, she has been able to find her own style. SharRonnie shared that her family never did any sort of photoshoots or portraits growing up, and she wished she had those photos to look back on. Now, as a business owner, she aims to reach people who can’t afford nice family photos and provide a service to them that is affordable.

Unlike Peggy, who started her business after retirement, or SharRonnie, whose hobby turned into her career, Latoya Smith founded her business when she was homeless. First Crown Hair & Beauty consists of all-natural skin and hair care products that Latoya makes herself. Many of the everyday products we use contain harsh chemicals and toxins, which, in the long run, can be harmful to our health. She uses a variety of natural ingredients, like avocado and coconut oil, all of which she uses on herself and her kids to ensure that she feels safe giving it to a customer. Some of her products include calming agents, like lavender, which help calm and relax your senses. She even shared that her lavender products help her kids sleep. She currently works the occasional pop-up shop and hopes to have a website to sell her products online soon.

In addition to those three businesses, the City of Jackson is also sponsoring one year of Chamber Membership for Isaiah’s Hub, Blue Julep, and Gilbert Chocolates.

In response to talking with each business owner, Jonathan explained that in his role as City Manager that, “We want to improve people’s lives. The City belongs to the people; I get to make it happen.” Investing in local businesses and helping new business owners get their businesses off the ground is a great way for the City to play a part in Jackson’s economic development. Both the Chamber and the City of Jackson are excited for what’s to come for these businesses in the coming year.