Planning commission to establish economic subcommittee
Group tasked with steering economic development in community
REED CITY -- The Reed City Planning Commission agreed to form an economic development subcommittee at its meeting May 4.
Mayor Trevor Guiles told the commission that his concern with the economic development being solely the responsibility of the planning commission is that it may take forever to move forward.
"We meet once a month, and we're not the greatest at getting things done quickly," Guiles said. "If we take a look at how long it has taken us to get through some other projects, maybe a committee outside of the planning commission would be more effective."
The goal of the subcommittee will be to work with community stakeholders in planning and carrying out an economic development plan for the city that will enhance the appeal of the community, provide for economic expansion and economic advancement of residents, and integrate business with the recreational opportunities available in the area.
Chairperson Dawn Montague suggested the subcommittee should involve a diverse group of people.
"We have pretty good diversity on the planning commission, but maybe someone from the schools would want to be involved," Montague said. "Maybe someone from Yoplait, or the hospital. Getting thoughts and ideas from other people might help us steer things in the right direction.
Montague also suggested that they may want to get representatives from Richmond and Hersey townships involved, because of the connections to the river system.
"We are talking about eventually building a kayak launch, and that would impact everything south of us on that waterway," she said.
"We have been blessed to get the trail town designation, but we need to attack things from multiways, not just from recreation," she added. "We need to get businesses in here that will make money, but we also want to get those that will help our recreational areas.
"We have identified some areas where we could establish some businesses," she continued. "We may need to look at ways to connect those businesses to the trail system. Perhaps getting more signage up at the access points to let people know where they can get off or on, or where they can get gas or food."
The economic development subcommittee will consist of four core members from the planning commission and will include members from the education sector, the business sector, the recreation sector and the Chamber of Commerce, as well as representatives from the Richmond and Hersey townships that are willing to serve.
Members of the planning commission agreed that the economic development of the community needs to focus on three main things -- bringing in sustainable businesses, creating a family-oriented community and remediating blight within the community.
"We have a number of places that are empty and rundown that we need to make sure get attention in redevelopment," Guiles said. "In addition, we have a high percentage of residents that are dependent on government assistance. If we are going to grow economically as a community, we have to help those people grow, as well. There is a lot more satisfaction for people if they can stand on their own two feet.
"This may be where the Chamber can help," he continued, "through education of our residents on how to start a business, or how to run a business effectively. There may be people in town that would love to start a business, but don't have the capital or the know-how to get started."
Reed City city manager Ron Howell said the city currently has a lot of good things going on, but one of the parts of the process would be to develop a vision of what they want.
"We have identified commercial parcels, and the city is formulating tax breaks for businesses," Howell said. "I think if we continue those things, we will be doing well.
"We are doing economic development to create and improve everyone's lifestyle, but the ultimate goal is to create a strong family environment," he added. "We want to create the image that people want to come here because they can get that job, they can get that place to live and they can enjoy the area."
Commission member Nate Bailey agreed to chair the subcommittee.
"As chair of the committee, I can be the one that invites the others to join," Bailey said. "Once I contact all these different entities and formulate the steering committee, I will get with Ron and let everybody know times and dates."
The commission agreed that the initial meeting of the economic development subcommittee should be part of the next planning commission meeting, where they will introduce the members and set up the policies and procedures the subcommittee will follow.
The planning commission meets at 7 p.m., the first Monday of each month.
For information on how to participate in the meeting, visit reedcity.org.