The 2008 eCities project concluded with the annual luncheon to recognize the year’s top performing communities and share best practices of the eCities project. At the 2008 eCities Luncheon, we recognized 6 different communities; Auburn Hills, Dundee, Plymouth Township, Southfield, Tecumseh, and Troy, for their efforts in promoting entrepreneurial growth and development.
City of Auburn Hills- makes efforts to reduce the bureaucratic process of permitting and approvals in the development stage. Auburn Hills has a goal for every project to complete the administrative and legislative processes within 60 days. The building and zoning staff lead developers through the process with an expectation that only one appearance will be needed before the planning commission. The process begins with asking a developer if the project will be LEED Certified. The idea of environmentally sensitive construction is part of the ethos of the creative class and entrepreneurial spirit.
Village of Dundee- strives to make economic development an administrative function allowing it to move at a pace closer to that of business. With that, bureaucracy is less of a barrier and decisions can be made to encourage and stimulate development. As an example, the reconstruction of the Village offices was moved up one year in expectation of a slow point in the regional economy. This was done to have visible construction activity occurring downtown, thus encouraging and reassuring private organizations to continue with their development efforts.
Plymouth Township- is a traditional outer-ring suburb, that has planned for business with a technology and research zoning district. The Township has low taxes, yet access to major freeways and high-bandwidth fiber optic lines. The zoning district has an inventory of flex office space that firms can move into if they are not able to undertake a major construction project in their early years. The Township has actively worked to create an environment that touches many of the metrics that site consultant firms use when helping businesses move. Including the stability of a well-educated workforce that has opportunities for growth, yet remain in the community.
City of Southfield- is an established community that has invested time and effort into making all the economic development tools available for business. They were also early adopters of mixed-use development and environmental policies. With all of those tools available, their Business Development Team can provide businesses a wide array of development tools. In addition, they direct firms and budding entrepreneurs to community partners. With this wide network, the city has become a conduit for businesses to find the resources they need. Thus allowing the City to focus on new services, and avoid duplicating efforts of these key partners.
City of Tecumseh- traces its Economic Development beginnings to grass roots efforts by the business community. Today, Tecumseh has a City-funded staff who works with an active mix of traditional retailers as well as family-started industrial firms. The business community is still a key partner in the process, involved in mentorship and recruitment activities in the retail corridor. The City owns and supports industrial and technology parks, where they are creating an environment for growth firms such as those in alternative energy and life sciences. The City is working locally and regionally to provide mechanisms to help these nascent firms with gap financing and additional resources for growth.
City of Troy- has a staff that carries out the role of relationship manager with the business community. They speak with existing and potential businesses to understand the firms’ goals and identify areas where bureaucracy doesn’t always match business expectations. Additionally, city staff facilitates the networking with venture capital and angel investors, as well as, leveraging community partners and the business community for solutions. An example of one such solution: A firm was headquartered in one of the City’s office towers. This firm was looking to expand and move out of the area to build a mixed industrial and office facility. Troy officials helped the firm find an industrial site in a neighboring community, close enough to make it possible for the office headquarters to remain in the region.