Traverse City Record-Eagle

September 4, 2013

Kingsley jobs strategy defined

Traverse City Record-Eagle

---- — KINGSLEY — A plan to spark economic growth in Kingsley suggests capitalizing on the community’s sizable but largely unused industrial park.

The 117-acre park is located along M-113 and is considered an ideal location for expanding commercial or industrial business. Approximately two-thirds of the privately owned property is served by an existing water main. A quarter of the property is served by the village’s main sewer line, and electricity also runs to the park.

So far the park’s occupants are limited to a dollar store, a car wash and a credit union.

“I had a conversation with someone from the Small Business Administration ... and they had no idea it even existed,” said Village Manager Mitchell Foster. “We’d heard Traverse City is running out of 20,000-foot spaces. We have the ability to build those size facilities for light manufacturing, agriculture manufacturing, or tech manufacturing.”

Capitalizing on the industrial park is one component of a long-term strategy for job growth for Kingsley and surrounding areas that will be outlined by the Traverse Bay Economic Development Corporation at a village of Kingsley meeting today at 6 p.m. at the village offices. The public is asked to attend and give input.

Rob Richardson, an EDC project manager who drafted the report, said the industrial park has huge potential.

“It’s located in a very strategic spot with great access to major highways, and it’s capable with just a few extensions of being fully infrastructured,” Richardson said.

The EDC report recommends taking steps now to make the industrial park more appealing to new business. That would include increased collaboration with park owner Rob Bach, developing an incentive package that could include tax relief, direct financial assistance in the form of grants or loans, and low utility rates.

“It’s an idea that has been tossed around for a while,” Foster said. “This is something we will be working on. How do we want to incentivize this package?”

Other highlights/recommendations of the Economic Development Action plan include:

- Recruitment of a family restaurant. Village officials should make an inventory of available vacant or green space that could support a new restaurant. Donating an existing building or at least providing low-cost rent could stimulate new business. A pre-packaged suite of incentives could help encourage the private sector to invest in Kingsley, as well.

- Capitalize on Kingsley’s prolific fly fishing history. The community is located between two trout fisheries, the Manistee and Boardman rivers.

- Implement a comprehensive marketing and promotions plan that allows Kingsley to stand out as a unique bedroom community.

- Establish a concert series for Brownson Park.

- Extend the regional trail system to connect to Kingsley trails.

- Develop and promote a “South County” strategy that encompasses collaboration with Fife Lake, Mayfield and others.

Richardson said Kingsley has a bright future. The EDC plan, he said, is flexible – residents and village leaders ultimately will decide which projects to they want to tackle.

“We’ve identified key projects to start with,” Richardson said. “Rather than swallow the whole elephant in one big bite, this sets goals that are incremental, measurable and quantifiable.”