Meridian Township has been awarded certification as a Redevelopment Ready Community. The announcement was made late last year and the designation comes via the Michigan Economic Development Corp. (MEDC), an advocate for business development and other key objectives for the state. The certification acknowledges Meridian Township’s commitment to attracting private investment and maximizing its assets. It became official at a Nov. 16 event held in Okemos.
Redevelopment Ready Communities is a voluntary, no-cost program offered by the MEDC to help local municipalities build strong supports for redevelopment and investment in their communities. Being a Redevelopment Ready Community means developers can compete for state-funded grants and loans for which they otherwise would not qualify. Meridian Township plans to focus on its Potential Intensity Change Areas, with the aim of infusing additional resources into the township’s downtown and village districts.
“This was a collaboration of a great team that truly helped the project along,” said Meridian Township Economic Director Chris Buck. “The residents in our prime community deserve far more from our core areas, and I’m confident we can deliver.”
In an interview on Comcast Newsmakers, Buck added that he hopes the Meridian Mall on Grand River Avenue in Okemos will receive any assistance it might need in reinventing itself due to what Buck described as “the changing face of retail.” Many malls find themselves in that position as shopping habits change and more people shop online.
The township has the advantages of being close to Michigan State University and Lansing. It joins 28 other communities that hold the Redevelopment Ready designation after qualifying as “thoroughly prepared” in regard to planning and zoning along with other key elements that eliminate obstacles and encourage investors. Other communities holding the certification include Grand Haven, Grand Rapids, Grayling, Hudsonville, Jackson, Kalamazoo, Lansing, Pinkney and Ypsilanti.
“Our mission at MEDC is to empower communities so they can proactively shape their future; a future built on a solid foundation of retaining and attracting business investment and talent,” said MEDC Senior Vice President Katharine Czarnecki. “We’re pleased to have the first township in the state reach certification, and look forward to working collaboratively with the township and supporting them in their local efforts.”
Being the first township to achieve the Redevelopment Ready designation meant meeting a comprehensive assessment involving community and economic development practices matched against Redevelopment Ready best practice standards. It involves embracing qualities such as transparency and efficiency, then integrating them into economic development practices. Certification is a strong indicator that a community has removed the kinds of barriers known to delay or discourage investment.
The MEDC has 41 best practices standards so Meridian Township had the added benefit of providing township staff, potential developers and area residents access to a number of updated policies and procedures, including when using the township’s website, meridian.mi.us.
“While we will continue to have prime standards for development, being Redevelopment Ready-certified makes navigating the process to develop in Meridian Township a much easier process,” said Township Supervisor Ronald J. Styka. “Being Redevelopment Ready-certified should drive an even higher level of satisfaction for engagement and support.”