The US Department of Commerce, Economic Development Administration, recently approved the City of Wixom’s 2014 Economic Development Strategy developed with assistance from a team of planning, branding, and economic development consultants. This team, led by Lathrup Village-based Clearzoning, Inc., presented the final plan to City Council in June 2014. The plan was designed to create a broad framework for attracting and retaining businesses and building upon the existing assets of the City.
At the council meeting, City Manager Tony Nowicki, summarized the economic development project as having three main components: 1) an assessment of the City’s assets and strategies to help fill gaps in the market for industrial, retail, and research and development businesses; 2) a guide to an efficient land development review process within the City; and 3) the development of the City’s unique “brand voice”—an understanding of who the City is, what it has to offer, and how that message is best shared. Strategies to strengthen the attractiveness of the workforce through education and specialized training are also included. In addition, the project team shared opportunities to facilitate collaborations between existing businesses and potential new businesses.
Howard Kohn, president of The Chesapeake Group, part of the project team, summarized opportunities identified through this process, including the potential for five million or more square feet of “industrial” space in the next ten years. He noted that “Some will be traditional manufacturing and some will be “new” office/industrial manufacturing.” Site Specific Opportunities were discussed. The strategy acknowledges the need for additional training in certain targeted areas (e.g., software testing, IT training, robotics, and health care).
Rod Arroyo, president of Clearzoning, described the electronic Development Manual that the City can use online to help applicants, staff, and officials understand the review process. This helpful guide contains flowcharts, illustrations, and hyperlinks to relevant documents, applications, and code requirements. It improves customer service and streamlines the development review process.
Brent Eastman, formerly of Identity, now with Alchemy Group, worked with the planning team on brand strategy. The resulting concept was developed through interviews and surveys of residents, business owners, staff, and City officials. The team found that while the City has a great deal to offer, it seems to be a well-kept secret. The City should try to raise the awareness of its amenities through consistent messaging that includes the idea that the City is “close to everything, but far from ordinary.”
About the City of Wixom
Recipient of the University of Michigan – Dearborn School of Management’s Metro Detroit 2007, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012 Entrepreneurial City Award, Wixom is one of the premier communities in Oakland County. The 9.35-square mile City of approximately 13,500 people is located along the I-96 corridor of Oakland County, Michigan. It is within driving distance of three major internationally known universities, two airports, a variety of recreation opportunities, and a diverse housing stock. Home to over 700 businesses, Wixom’s business friendly management philosophy and organizational culture make it an ideal community to locate and operate a business. The City’s major employers include Moeller Manufacturing Company, Mac Valves, Inc. and Adept Plastic Inc. The City employs a balanced approach to land use development with a mix of high-quality residential living and a strong diverse industrial base. Wixom has one of the lowest tax rates in the state in its population class, one of the lowest combined water and sewer rates in Oakland County and boasts of one of the finest school districts in the state. For more information about the Economic Development Strategy, please contact Debra Barker, Business Development Liaison, at 248-624-3280 or firstname.lastname@example.org.