Real estate broker opposes incubators for new businesses
To the Editor:
I am concerned about the city's plan to create an "incubator" out of the now vacant public safety building in downtown Imlay City. As a commercial real estate broker and major downtown property owner in Imlay City, I can tell you that having the government subsidize a private business would be an egregious injustice to all landlords, businesses, and property owners in this community.
We already have a large surplus of commercial real estate for sale or lease in Imlay City—at least 10 single and multi-tenant commercial buildings and over 50,000 square feet of rental/retail space. Rents are at one of the most affordable levels in years due to the surplus space.
If the city enters the real estate leasing market with "discount or subsidized rents" it could create a hardship for existing business owners, who by the way pay their full share of property taxes and are end-users of city services. In effect, owners of commercial property would be subsidizing the city owned "incubator" with private tax dollars.
Incubators are notoriously expensive to the taxpayers for benefits received. Wouldn't the city be better off doing more for the successful "existing" businesses to help them grow, expand and add jobs? This has been the complaint of business owners for years: The "new guy" gets all the tax breaks while the long-time, loyal business person pays full price!
As far as Lapeer Economic Development participating in developing property in Imlay City, many of us are still awaiting an explanation of why one of our budding industries, Hydraulic Tube and Supply suddenly decided to buy an industrial building in Lapeer when a site plan was already approved for a new building in the Imlay City Industrial Park? Dozens of jobs will be lost from this community when this factory leaves, along with tax base and utility revenue.
In conclusion, if we don't help ourselves no one else will. Save the incubator money and lower our taxes and water bills so our loyal existing businesses can survive and grow.
—John D. Johnson
Imlay City Businessman
Editor's note: The "incubator" item referred to in Mr. Johnson's letter appears in a story on page 7-A of the May 12, 2010 issue under the headline 'New team seeks solutions in Imlay.' The Small Business Development team is in the launching stages and includes members Amy Planck (Imlay City manager); Monica Irelan (DDA Director); Patricia Lucas (Lapeer Development Corp. director); Kim Marrone (Chamber of Commerce director) and Walsh College intern John Shepherd. As noted in the article, the SBT is investigating ideas to create economic growth and business development, among them use of existing buildings as incubators for startup businesses.