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October 17 12:59 PM
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City needs to address its restrictive building requirements


To the Editor:

I would like to congratulate Imlay City officials for participating in a strategy to promote economic growth in the Imlay City area. On Nov. 9 city officials presented a new strategy to introduce small business entrepreneurs to the community. The program was a follow up to a "boot camp" held at the Michigan State University Land Police Institute; three Imlay City officials attended.

In my 10 years in commercial real estate, I have worked with many communities throughout eastern Michigan. Over the years I've found that one of the biggest obstacles to economic growth and development is local government. I have watched small businesses being driven away by unnecessary city rules and regulations. Even in Imlay City, efforts to attract a new business and industry have been inconsistent and unfocused. Hopefully, the city will look at some of its archaic and restrictive building requirements. For example, let's start with the city planner. Why does it need to take so long to get a site plan approved? Why doesn't the city make the planner more available (at no cost) to review site plans before they come to the planning commission? Why can't the city modify the sign ordinance to make it more business friendly.

One thing that a new business coming into a community wants to hear is that they are wanted; so anything that the community can do to accommodate a new business will open doors to more growth and prosperity for the community in the long run.

The stakes for new development are high. All governments in Michigan are going to face huge losses in property values over the next few years. This will translate into big dips in revenues for local governments. Cities need to be searching out new business and encouraging expansion of existing business to replace that tax base!

Lastly, the committee should not just cater to entrepreneurs but to existing businesses. Business retention is critical. Creating and subsidizing incubators needs to be tempered with the needs of those who are NOW paying taxes, utilities, and hiring employees. This is the true challenge of innovation. So here's to a fresh start and a "new attitude."

Sincerely,

—John D. Johnson

New Century Property LLC

Imlay City


November 24, 2010

Castle Creek
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