The 2010 eCities project concluded with the annual luncheon to recognize the year's top performing communities and share best practices of the eCities project. At the 2010 eCities Luncheon, we recognized 55 communities across the state. We honored 48 communities across the state that performed well in eCities as five- and four-star communities. In addition, we recognized 7 top performing communities: East Lansing, Grand Rapids, Jonesville, Livonia, Meridian, Tecumseh, and Wixom, for their efforts in fostering entrepreneurship and encouraging economic development.
City of East Lansing - with the assistance of partners opened the Technology Innovation Center (TIC) incubator to provide entrepreneurs networking opportunities, business development support, training sessions, and mentoring programs. Being located adjacent to MSU, provided the opportunity to leverage the Center's impact by partnering to open The Hatch, which gives student entrepreneurs access to the TIC resources. In addition to home-grown entrepreneurs, the City promotes walkable areas and bikable connections between the Capital and campus, and marketing the City as a place for the best and brightest to work.
City of Grand Rapids - is focusing on the culture of sustainability, not just with City efforts, but to make it part of the community's values. One of the notable City programs, MyGRCity Points, allows residents to earn "points" for participating in sustainable efforts and redeem those points at local businesses. The City has a very engaged business community and has several large employers who initiate many of the programs to help economic development. The Mayor's office is also working with local businesses to find meaningful work experiences for youths to teach teamwork and leadership skills.
The Village of Jonesville - has consolidated critical online resources on their webpage, providing a single point of information for business resources. In addition to the online tools, the Village is part of a county-wide effort that created an expo for entrepreneurs to connect to offline resources such as business contacts, mentors, and local and state services. Continuing the online efforts to reach businesses, the Village has a Facebook page, manager blog postings, and a community calendar to share key issues. To provide a face-to-face connection with businesses the Village holds an annual Business Appreciation Lunch.
The City of Livonia - uses partners from several educational centers, including the Schoolcraft College VistaTech program, to provide resources to small businesses. The City is also working to strengthen their second-stage and established firms with their Business Ambassador Program. Through the process the City was able to identify and address several infrastructure improvements. The City is identifying ways to reutilize the overcapacity of manufacturing property in the City and leveraging County and State programs to reduce the costs to update the properties.
Meridian Township - has shifted from a passive role in economic development to a very active effort in the past few years. To take a proactive approach, they have created the Meridian Asset Resource Center to provide entrepreneurs business counseling, mentoring, and training seminars. The Township also partners with Prima Civitas to provide young entrepreneur's free space at the Township's Business Expo to connect them with customers and business contacts. Businesses have a high level of transparency into government by the Township utilizing the local cable network, various municipal social network sites, round table forums, and attendance at the monthly business association meetings.
City of Tecumseh - acknowledges the business community as the original funder of the economic development efforts in town. The City continues to act as a partner to help the business community grow. The City is partnering with businesses to create a Tecumseh Innovation Fund which will make $2.5 million of capital available to spur economic development. They have found opportunities to partner existing business owners with budding entrepreneurs to serve as a mentorship program. Looking toward the future the City has developed new course offerings based on where workforce demand is growing. Additionally, they have engaged students to take pictures of things they do like and don.t like throughout the community to help prioritize future City improvements.
City of Wixom - has invested in green technologies and service changes for cost savings. The poster child of the effort is "surgical demolition" where underutilized properties and remodels are not wholesale demolished, but instead reused as much as possible. The City has also revised outdated policies to accommodate high-tech firms, incubator space, and green efforts. The implementation of an Online Networking Hub gives local businesses the opportunity to network in an online portal. Additionally, the City is working with a communication company who has created a free promotional film on the community which can be leveraged by the local business owners for promotional opportunities.