2017-04-20 / Front Page

City of Grand Blanc creates economic development plan

By Paula Kay Schmidt
810-452-2647 • pbarbee@mihomepaper.com

GRAND BLANC — City Manager Wendy Jean-Buhrer is leading the charge in the slow but necessary process to creating a formal economic development plan for the city, and recently outlined the tools available for that process to city council.

As part of the new strategy, Mayor Susan Soderstrom will be appointing council members to an Economic Development Committee which will focus on strategies for available city property development.

The committee will evaluate current state programs and innovative incentives to encourage property owners and developers to open closed businesses or create new ones. The committee will craft and negotiate specific economic packages for individual properties, report to City Council and design innovative proposals for non-specific properties

In addition, Jean-Buhrer is working with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), to make the city a Re-Development Ready Community, a process which guides municipalities through the steps which help them be equipped to welcome development.

MEDC is a state run project which offers a quick and efficient process for development, as well as grants and loans to help redevelop downtowns and foster historic preservation. Currently the city has the Downtown Development Authority (DDA) which continues to do small events and sponsor projects.

The city also uses the Brownfield Redevelopment Act, which helped create the space where Aubree’s restaurant and Firehouse Subs now sit in place of an old abandoned gas station. During the most recent meeting, the council voted to create a proposal for bids to engage a realtor to sell vacant city property in the Kings Fairway subdivision.

The council also approved changes to the personnel handbook which would enable employees to request vacation time no more than 28 days prior to taking it which is designed to prevent time slots being ‘bumped’ by seniority; as well as a measure to restrict requests to only the time available in an employee’s bank.

City officials are preparing for a joint meeting with the township and fire commission to be held on April 27, at 7 p.m. to discuss possible changes to the funding of the joint fire department. They also said, as reported in the March 16 Grand Blanc View, that the agreement for a new apartment complex across Reid from Grand Oaks Apartments, which was to be known as Grand Oaks II, was now expired and the project would not be going forward.

They also approved a request to close Reid Rd. for the Grand Blanc Chamber’s annual family fun fest, scheduled to occur June 8-11 (road closes June 5 for carnival set-up), as well as heard a report from Matt Wurtz, Department of Public Works Director regarding a proposed bill in the senate.

According to Wurtz, as well as the city engineers, Fleis and VanDenBrink and the Michigan division of the American Waterworks Association, Senate Bill 157 intends to take choice of materials in water construction projects out of the hands of local municipalities.

Based on this information, and the report of Soderstrom that the Michigan Municipal League was also working to put this bill down, the council expressed agreement in letting the MML political action committee work towards the bill’s demise.

More information on this is at: http://blogs.mml.org/wp/inside208/2017/03/24/senate-bills-impacting-municipal-construction-specifications-voted-out-of-committee/ and more information on the city economic development program is available on the City of Grand Blanc website at: www.cityofgrandblanc.com/departments/economic-development or: http://www.cityofgrandblanc.com/Portals/1045/EconomicDevelopment/Economic%20Development%20Tools.pdf

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