Reed City, Richmond group continue talks

REED CITY — The addition of overnight lodging in Reed City may be the next step in the economic development of the area.

Brian Rice and Harry Wierenga of Fleis and VandenBrink, an architectural and engineering planning firm specializing in small communities, assessed the Reed City area and noted the need and large chance for success of a hotel in the area.

“To have two major (recreational) trails cross creates a natural gathering place,” said Rice.

At its last meeting, the Reed City/Richmond Economic Development Committee discussed the inconvenience involved with lack of lodging, noting the closest hotel being in Big Rapids. There is also a hotel in Evart.

“There is really a need here for some type of even a small (hotel),” said Richmond Township treasurer Edie Betzing.

Dan Massey, economic development coordinator for Osceola County, said a few years ago he called many national hotel chains and invited them to build in Reed City near the crossing of US 10 and US 131. He said each company declined because the area did not meet their specifications.

Weirenga suggested the committee approach private owners or companies who have a local interest rather than larger chains.

In a presentation given to the committee, Rice informed members of the steps in the typical community planning process. The committee, a collection of officials from Reed City, Lincoln and Richmond townships and the villiage of Hersey, has the overall goal of working together for the betterment of the Reed City area, and Wierenga said that unity is a large advantage.

“If you have a mutual agreement, things can happen,” Wierenga said.

To ensure success when applying for grants for future projects, Wierenga said the group needs to set aside matching funds.

“Almost every (funding) program of any kind has a match component,” Wierenga said.

He also suggested the committee update zoning ordinances to promote smart growth in the area as well as identify potential grant funding programs

Another idea proposed by Wierenga was the development of the unused airport facility.

Though the completion of a project seems far off, committee members know big planning must begin small.

“We have to start little — baby steps,” said Betzing.

Along with providing information and recommendations, Rice and Wierenga  encouraged the committee to get the community involved in their planning.

“Citizen input is a critical part in decision-making,” Wierenga said.

The public is invited to the next meeting of the Reed City/Richmond Economic Development Committee, which will be held April 26, at Richmond township hall at 1 p.m.