Alpena is a city in the U.S. state of Michigan and the county seat of Alpena County. It is considered to be part of Northern Michigan. The Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary is located in the city. The population was 10,483 at the 2010 census. The population swells with a large number of visitors in the summer. Despite its small population, it is by far the largest city in the sparsely populated Northeast Michigan (lower peninsula) area, serving as its commercial and cultural hub. It is considered to be one of the two anchor cities of Northern Michigan, along with Traverse City. The Alpena Regional Medical Center is a federally designated rural regional medical referral center, and is the largest employer in the city.
Alpena County Regional Airport (IATA: APN, ICAO: KAPN, FAA LID: APN) is the northeast lower peninsula of Michigan's main commercial airport and handles daily Delta Connection flights to Detroit and Minneapolis/St. Paul operated by SkyWest Airlines. It is a public-use airport located in Wilson Township, Michigan six miles (10 km) west of the central business district of Alpena. The Michigan Air National Guard Combat Readiness Training Center co-utilizes the airfield.
Alpena is situated along the Lake State Railway, formerly the Detroit and Mackinac Railway (D&M). Earlier railroads that served Alpena were built and owned by the Alger Smith and Co. logging company: the Detroit, Bay City and Alpena Railroad which entered Alpena from the south around 1886; and the Alpena and Northern Railroad.
Alpena, along with the rest of Alpena County and portions of Presque Isle County, is served by Alpena Public Schools. Alpena Public Schools was established as the first county-wide school district in the state of Michigan in 1963. The district has one high school, a junior high, an alternative/adult high school, and eight elementary schools. The elementary schools are Besser, Ella White, Hinks, Lincoln, Sanborn, and Wilson Elementary Schools. Geographically, it is the largest school district in the Lower Peninsula, encompassing more than 620 square miles (1,600 km2). There are three private schools in Alpena. All Saints Catholic School is affiliated with the four Roman Catholic parishes in the city (St. Anne's, St. Bernard's, St. John the Baptist and St. Mary the Immaculate) and provides preschool to 6th grade education. Immanuel Lutheran School is supported by the Immanuel Lutheran Church and has preschool to 8th grade classes. The Alpena SDA Elementary School is a Seventh-Day Adventist school that has offers elementary education. Bingham Arts Academy, a charter school run by Mosaica, also provides classes from preschool to 8th grade. Alpena is also home to Alpena Community College. ACC is a two-year associates program that has partnerships with Spring Arbor University and several other Michigan institutions. Within Alpena Community College is the World Center for Concrete Technology (WCCT). The WCCT draws a worldwide enrollment of students for classes in Concrete Technology, including a Master Blockmakers Degree for 5-class-accomplished students.
While tourism is an important component of the area's economy, both Alpena and Rogers City have an industrial base. In particular, Alpena is home to Lafarge's cement plant and to Besser Company (maker of a concrete block making machinery), as well as a drywall board manufacturing facility owned by Decorative Panels International. Rogers City is the location of the world's largest limestone quarry, which is used in steel making in the Great Lakes and Rust Belt regions.
Alpena's primary shopping center is the Alpena Mall, a small enclosed shopping mall featuring approximately like 10 stores, with JCPenney as the anchor store. Fletcher Street Brewing Company is in Old Town on the Thunder Bay River.
There are seven recognized historical markers in the city:
- Alpena City Hall
- Alpena County Courthouse
- The Daniel Carter Family, Alpena'a first settlers.
- First Congregational Church [Alpena]
- Monarch Mill
- St. Bernard Catholic Church
- World's Largest Cement Plant