TO:                  Village Council

FROM:             Debbie Powell, Village Manager

DATE:             July 27, 2018

RE:                  Manager’s Report July 2018

July has been a month where my primary focus has been on economic and community development. I have toured villages and cities in the Thumb to see what they are doing right, what they could improve, and whether they have a grocery store. In addition, we are working with the Tuscola County EDC to include power upgrades for the community, and new business in our industrial park.

We are the recipient of the First Impressions: Tourism Assessment (FIT) grant from the Michigan State University Extension.  This program is used to help communities form economic initiatives, develop community goals, and assess the community for tourism. The FIT team will arrive in Cass City unannounced and conduct their assessment the end of summer.  FIT involves developing community leadership, strengthening community vitality, and forming a basis for future development.   FIT helps communities learn about their strengths and weaknesses through the eyes of first-time visitors.  We have a Community Leadership Team, comprised of volunteers representing the Chamber, local business, hospital, school board, technology, and finance.  In addition to the assessment, Cass City will also receive $2,000 to implement FIT recommendations. 

I have been working with the Chamber of Commerce and property owners to stage windows of vacant storefronts to give the Main Street a more welcoming feel as people drive by, while we work to fill those storefronts with new businesses.

A lot of work is going on behind the scenes and data is being collected. Potential investors need information such as traffic counts, capacity for our water and wastewater plant, infrastructure improvements, etc. I have been meeting with staff and our consultants to get those answers to assist with their development plans. 

Manager’s Report July 2018

Page 2

I met with Chuck Donaldson from Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) on July 11, 2018 to find out incentives the village may be eligible for to draw new business into the downtown and industrial park. It was a very productive meeting.  Some of the loan and grant programs are more time consuming and labor intensive than others.  One of the programs, “Crowd Funding” has the capability of assisting with historic, cultural, and recreational projects, and may be an avenue to meet some of our funding goals for future projects. 

As the Village is in the process of becoming a Redevelopment Ready Community (RRC), we can enter investment properties on the MEDC website. I have been working on marketing the Curtis Building and the DDA Antique Mall. As an update on where we are at in the process, the Village is awaiting a site visit from RRC representatives who will provide an analysis for Cass City economic development.   We will compare it to our self-evaluation, and plan to meet the program guidelines. 

As more information becomes available, I will keep you updated. Most developers prefer to keep their plans private until they are ready to share with the public.  The Village of Cass City is changing, evolving into a new community for future generations, and I am grateful to be a part of it.