DDA works out contract with development group

EVART — A group of experts soon will be focusing their efforts on the development of downtown Evart.

The Downtown Development Authority plans to sign a contract in the next few weeks with Michigan Solutions Group, LLC, a business with a vision of building the economic health of Michigan.

“Michigan Solutions Group will be working on some of our economic development, researching grants, and doing some business recruitment for empty locations,” said DDA board member Alan Bengry.

Michigan Solutions Group is a team of five individuals with experience in financial management and planning, economic development and construction projects.

Once the contract is signed, Michigan Solutions Group will provide consulting services for the DDA

board and director, as well as talk with residents, research grants and complete needs assessments for the area.

Bob Van Dellen, Michigan Solutions project manager said the team has already explored downtown Evart and thinks the potential for area growth lies in working together.

“We are excited to work with the Evart DDA,” Van Dellen said. “There are a lot of opportunities for development.”

Bengry said he hopes the professionals will help the DDA address the issues related with empty buildings in downtown Evart through their knowledge of development plans and funding sources.

“Being a small downtown area, if there is grant funding available we hope they can locate that for both current and perspective business owners,” Bengry said.

Van Dellen said the team will search for the most logical kinds of businesses to occupy vacant storefronts and being recruiting them for the Evart downtown area. He said the group has a track record of success working with small communities.

“There are no quick-fixes or overnight solutions. This is a long term process,” Vad Dellen said. “It is a process of identifying needs and getting people to work together because one group can’t do it alone.”

Evart’s Local Development Finance Authority also is contracted with Michigan Solutions. The cooperative efforts were responsible for bringing Evart’s newest business PLM, a lake and land management corporation, to the area. The company is currently assisting the LDFA make contact with additional potential clients for the Evart Air Industrial Park.

“They are movers and shakers and they know who to call,” said Melora Theunick, LDFA director. “Hopefully (the agreement) will be very advantageous for the Downtown Development as well.”

The initial contract discussed included payment of $1,000 per month with the possibility of an increase after six months, but terms have not been finalized. The contract will be on a month to month basis. The DDA hopes to have the contract signed before their next regular meeting on March 21.

The DDA also is in the process of hiring a new director, which is expected to be completed by the end of this week.