The Michigan Harness Horsemen Association (MHHA) is Michigan’s only recognized standardbred horsemen organization; active since 1947, the MHHA serves to support and protect Michigan’s standardbred owners, breeders, trainers and drivers. Our organization serves a wide variety of functions to ensure the financial interests of Michigan’s standardbred industry. We supply horses to Michigan’s remaining parimutuel racetrack, Northville Downs and 11 country fairs throughout the state during the summer stakes season. We represent the Standardbred industry with state administrative, budgetary and legislative matters of concern regarding the horse racing industry and actively seek change when needed to ensure policies promote live racing opportunities for our horsemen.
Rep. Julie Alexander is honored to serve residents of the Jackson community in the state Capitol. She represents the 64th House District, which includes the city of Jackson; the villages of Concord, Hanover, and Parma; and Concord, Hanover, Napoleon, Parma, Pulaski, Sandstone, Spring Arbor and Summit townships.
In the House of Representatives, Rep. Alexander chairs the Committee on Agriculture, where she guides state policy to improve the agriculture industry, insuring a safe and secure food supply for all. She also serves on the Committee on Health Policy and the Committee on Local Government and Municipal Finance.
After graduating from Northwest High School and Western Michigan University, Rep. Alexander continued her post-graduate education at Michigan State University and started in the teaching profession. During her 22-year career as a passionate educator, she taught both middle school English Language Arts and adult education.
Rep. Alexander has wholeheartedly embraced the lifestyle of a farmer alongside her husband, Jeff. The Alexanders own and operate their third-generation family farm in Hanover Township, where they grow about 1,600 acres of crops, including corn, soybeans, wheat, and hay. Recently having sold their milking herd after 40 years of dairy production the family remains active in their community and state promoting the agriculture industry.
At the local level, her leadership roles included: County Commissioner 2011-2016, Human Services Committee Chair, Marine Corps League (Auxiliary member), Jackson County Parks, Cradle to Career (C2C) Coordinating Council, SCMWorks!, Land Bank Authority, Region 2 Planning Commission, Board of Public Works and Hanover Horton Hometown Celebration.
Rep. Alexander has received many awards for her commitment to public service. These include: the National Milk Producers Association Young Cooperator Advisory Council (1992), Jackson County ‘Dairy Woman of the Year’ (1993), Jackson County Farm Bureau ‘Service to Agriculture’ (2004), United Dairy Industry of Michigan’s ‘Excellence in Dairy Promotion’ (2013), Center for Family Health’s ‘Community Health Champion’ (2014), and Jackson County Great Start Collaborative ‘Great Start in Life’ (2014).
Since serving as State Representative, Rep Alexander has been recognized for many achievements including: 2020 Potato Growers of Michigan Peeler In Our Community, 2019 Michigan Allied Poultry Industries Golden Egg Award in recognition of Outstanding Commitment to Michigan's Family Egg Farmers, 2019 Friends of Corn – Legislator of the Year, 2019 FFA Agricultural Education Supporter, 2019 Michigan Great Lakes International Draft Horse Show Appreciation of Service, 2018 Michigan School Counselor Assn. Legislator of the Year Award, 2018 State Legislative Leaders Foundation (SLLF) Emerging Leaders Program graduate, 2017 & 2018 The American Conservative Union Foundation Conservative Excellence Award and the 2017 & 2018 NFIB Guardian of Small Business Award.
Julie and Jeff were married in 1987. Together, they are the proud parents of four children and grandparents to three.
So what happened to the plans for the building? Lots.
There were many challenges in 2020 that impacted our ability to operate, fundraise and proceed with the project as designed. Our Community was hit especially hard with the dam failures and devastating flooding. And it happened during a global pandemic. To find our path forward, we sought support and encouragement of community leaders to revise the scope of the project and to align the costs more closely to the committed funds in order to advance the project for our community. The revised scope of work uses a design build approach and valuable insight gained from the initial project scope of 2019. The project delivers 155 stalls in the four-season building and another 70 stalls in an adjacent barn being moved and repurposed on the property as an improved asset. Total Stall capacity exceeds 410 stalls for seasonal use with an additional 127 harness barn stalls available for event use. The design allows for planned expansion of the facility based on the 2018 master plan for the fairgrounds.
The equine and livestock industry continues to thrive and our wait list for events demonstrates the desire for organizations to hold events in Midland, Michigan. Our key stakeholders, including area businesses as well as new customers will benefit from this project. The fairgrounds will benefit from additional revenue, area businesses receive direct economic impact, customers will benefit as their events can host more participants in our community and we help meet the demands in the equine industry.
The project is estimated to take 6-8 months for completion, with the project designed to be started in the Fall of 2021 and be completed by May 2022. This is a very positive project for our community with several local contractors working on the project. “Our plan is to increase capacity and as a result, better serve our customers and the community. This project is good for everyone; the equine industry, the fair industry and Michigan as a whole,” says Trish Steele, manager of the Midland Fairgrounds. “This equestrian center project would be sustained through the contracts for future use in operations. It is a self-sustaining business model that has proven to be effective in fairground facilities across the U.S.”
This four-season equestrian venue will provide an economic benefit to the local businesses and commerce, as it will add 30,000 visitors to the area during a time of year in which they would not normally be present (late fall and throughout the winter).
In addition to grant funding from local family and private foundations, individuals, businesses and organizations, the Midland Fair will be hosting fundraising events in 2021 to support the equestrian center project. Through the generosity of the Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation in Midland, the Midland Fair has been awarded a $1 for $1 matching grant up to $200,000. This award will maximize contributions and help us reach our goal of fundraising for the project. To learn more about the Rising Strong campaign and how your tax-deductible contributions can support this project, visit midlandfair.com.
The Midland County fairgrounds serves approximately 375,000 visitors annually through a variety of 114 unique events which are held at the facility. A recent study from MSU’s Center for Economic Analysis shows that the Midland Fair events generate more than $3.70 million dollars of new transactions annually into the Midland County economy and supports the equivalence of about 48 jobs.
Visit midlandfair.com to learn more about this exciting project!