Saginaw is a middle-of-the-road industrial city and gateway to recreational areas in northern Michigan. Once an important forest products processor, that industry has declined somewhat and the area now has more general industry and agricultural processing. Downtown has been in decline for years, although there is a small “Old Town” entertainment district across the Saginaw River. Today, unemployment is a problem in the area, crime rates are high and the weak economy has driven housing prices down to the point where they make national news for how low they are. As a gateway to the region, Saginaw does have a good balance of services and facilities for a city of its size and profile, including higher education, healthcare, air service, and some cultural amenities.
This tri-city area of Saginaw, Bay City and Midland sits on Saginaw Bay, which forms Michigan’s “thumb.” Saginaw itself sits about 12 miles up the Saginaw River. The area is mostly flat coastal plain, dotted by industry and agriculture and densely forested land. The continental climate is heavily influenced by the Great Lakes, moderating temperatures but giving extensive periods of cloudy, cool and often wet weather. Summers are humid but moderate in temperature, with most days below 90. Winters are cold with frequent snow and rain/snow mixes. Cold arctic air masses from the north and west are moderated somewhat by lake influences, but lake moisture produces significant snows and snow cover is prevalent through winter. First freeze is early October, last is early May.