Rebecca Fleury, Rotarian and Battle Creek City Manager, introduced Ted Dearing, Assistant City Manager. Ted provided an update about the city’s economic development plan. Ted began his presentation by saying: “We have been blessed in this community to have forward thinking leaders, outstanding economic development professionals and important economic development successes over the years but we have also been challenged by difficult economic conditions such as a decline in manufacturing prominence, the shift to an information based economy – and local challenges such as workforce participation rates, education attainment, lack of access, etc.
Ted discussed twelve strategies essential to transform a downtown in to a healthy urban community. Among these strategies are:
- Turn one-way streets into two-way streets.
- Establish a regularly occurring public event with showcasing downtown merchants, music, and food.
- Create more land for development (landfill into a body of water, remove land from a floodplain, take back land from a freeway, etc).
- Make under-utilized public land available for private sector development
- Consolidate regional economic development partner organizations into a single downtown location.
- Create a permanent public market.
- Open a downtown satellite campus of a local university.
He referenced BC Vision and its three pillars – Jobs, Talent and a Culture of Vitality. Their work is in line with Michigan’s economic development strategy which emphasizes the relationship between jobs, talent and a sense of place.
We were also joined today by John Hart, Downtown Development Director for Battle Creek.