In 2022-23 the DDA focused on finding a developer for their 24 acre property within the district, creating atmosphere within the district to support businesses, and improving walkability within the corridor. In continuation of the work to develop the 24 acres of land at the heart of the DDA district, the DDA wrote a Request for Qualifications to seek out a developer to develop the vision created for the site. The DDA, Township Board, and Planning Commission conducted a joint meeting to discuss the RFQ and the applicants. The DDA, in partnership with the Township Board, ran a RFQ selection process and selected a developer; Geerlings Developers were selected to develop the site. The DDA continues to do their homework about incentives that they might have at their disposal to help make the development a reality. To this end, the DDA spent time and resources evaluating the use of the Manistee County Land Bank and other tools. The DDA also initiated two new Holiday corridor decorating programs: Light Up Filer and Lighting of the Tree. Light Up Filer seeks to bring holiday cheer to the corridor through the decoration of business storefronts. Open to managers of businesses, the competition awarded a 1st, 2nd, and 3rd monetary prize to the manger who had the best decorated storefront. The DDA decided not to continue decorating the light poles along US31 for the holidays but rather decorate a large pine tree on the corner of Merkey and US23. With the help of a local business, Authentic 231, and the permission of the property owner, the pine tree was decorated. The DDA also spent time this year working with MDOT to improve walkability in the corridor as an additional aspect of the MDOT roadway improvements. MDOT was not receptive to making walkability a factor in their roadway improvements.
This, the year of the COVID-19 pandemic, was a challenge. Regardless of the challenges, the DDA met regularly and sought out ways to understand the needs of the business community and try to provide assistance. With that goal in mind, the DDA partnered to host a live music event called “Live from the Lot” that not only provided levity for the community as a whole but also created an opportunity for businesses to generate larger sales for the day and teach the community how to shop using new COVID-19 methods. In addition, the DDA moved forward to begin the development process for the 20 acre Township owned property located within the DDA district by issuing a Request for Proposals for conceptual planning; called “The Hamlet in Filer Township”. The Hamlet in Filer Township development is envisioned to provide much needed housing and additional retail space. Both the amount of retail space and housing units needed were recommended by the 2019-20 Filer Township Retail Market Analysis and the 2019 Housing Target Market Analysis.
Building on the work started in 2020, the DDA completed the Hamlet in Filer Township conceptual planning process. The Hamlet conceptual planning process required an abundance of public engagement opportunities, committee meetings, and careful Township oversight.
During the conceptual planning process, the DDA made the strategic decision to purchase a 4 acre site because it was not only adjacent to the 20 acre Hamlet site but would also provide the 20 acre site with direct access onto US31. The DDA also finished out the year by partnering with local groups to install landscaping at the Welcome to Filer Township sign. In addition, the ODA initiated a business pitch competition named “Filer First Business Pitch Competition”. The competition was held and finalists were selected.
April 1, 2019-April 1, 2020
Activities (Projects, Events, Promotional Campaigns)
The Filer DDA finished their work creating a Development Plan and TIF Plan amendment and a Retail Market Analysis. Both documents set the framework for years of work that the DDA will do to achieve business attraction, retention, and growth. The DDA provided three opportunities for formal engagement with business owners, the residents of the district, and the community as a whole: through a survey during the early weeks of Covid-19, a public hearing in the adoption of the Development and TIF Plan, and an open forum for discussion during the presentation of the Retail Market Analysis. The DDA provided direct business growth services by paying for the lateral connections to the waste water collection system, offering a scholarship for managers to grow their business acumen, made monthly connections with merchants to talk about their business successes and connect them with resources, tried to encourage a sidewalk sale event, and attended a state wide business connect program to pitch Filer as a community and the DDA district specifically (strategically utilizing the Retail Market Analysis). As part of the place based economic development strategy, the DDA arranged for the Christmas light decorations in the district and agreed upon the design and location for community welcome signage.
April 1, 2018-April 1, 2019