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Mt. Clemens : Development News

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Cash mob plans hit on downtown Mount Clemens

Lovers of the Clem, downtown Mount Clemens, are mobilizing -- via the Internet and social media sites, a cash mob to hit local businesses this Saturday.

The cash mob concept, believed to be started about a year ago in Buffalo and Cleveland, says Mount Clemens Downtown Development Authority director Arthur Mullen, functions like a flash mob, which uses social media to bring together dancers to perform in a surprise location.

However, cash mobs bring their money and their support to local business in an effort to give a boost to businesses' bottom lines and publicity to the buy local movement.

The object of the Clem's cash mobsters is Tis Country, 55 Macomb Place, a gift shop and boutique of countrified home and personal items. Mobsters will spend at least $10 there and are invited to a post-mob party and $2.50 burgers at Detroit Pub, 76 Macomb Place, where there will also be food and drink specials.

The mob runs from 1-4 p.m. Saturday and anyone is invited.

A second cash mob has been set for March 24, National Cash Mob Action Day, at Gemini Moon, a purveyor of metaphysical and spiritual products and services. The after mob happens at Madison’s Pub.

"Cash mob organizers wanted to create a new way to support and draw attention to independent business owners, Mullen says. "Their goal is to have cash mobs make an actual difference for small business owners during this tough economy."

Source: Arthur Mullen, director Mount Clemens Downtown Development Authority
Writer: Kim North Shine

Macomb County imparts the how-tos of small business for entrepreneurs

Macomb County is seeking out small business owners and entrepreneurs with business ideas as economic development planners work to support businesses seen as the "bread and butter of our downtowns and commercial corridors."

The county is offering a 12-week "Unlock Your Sales Potential" course at the Velocity business incubator in Sterling Heights, starting Feb. 28. The Michigan Small Business Development and Technology Center is teaching the program at Velocity as local and state economic development planners look for ways to increase small business success.

In Macomb County there are 2,855 small retail establishments responsible for supporting 40,590 jobs.

"Unique and interesting retail shops are the bread and butter of our downtowns and commercial corridors," says Don Morandini, deputy director of the Macomb County Department of Planning and Economic Development. "This class is especially for entrepreneurs with a passion for selling what consumers want. We'll help them uncover a deeper understanding of their customer base and provide ideas for keeping their inventory selling."

The benefits of the guidance given by the business development and technology center and courses such as the one coming up are crucial to operating a business, says Debbie Heuchert, owner of Champagne Chocolates in downtown Mount Clemens. She ran the business for 14 years in her basement before opening a store in downtown Mount Clemens eight years ago. She also had a store in Birmingham in 2007.

"This class opened up my eyes on more than just my business. It is an incredible course. It helps you be honest with yourself," says Huechert. "I think it's one of the most important things you can do if you're thinking about a business…I wish I had known about something like this before I started. If I had done my homework…I would have done things differently."

For sign up or to obtain more information, e-mail Denise.Mentzer@MacombCountyMI.gov or call 586-469-5118.

Source: Maria Zardis, Macomb County Department of Planning and Economic Development; Debbie Heuchert, owner Champagne Chocolates.
Writer: Kim North Shine

How metro Detroit municipalities tried to create the downtown experience

The word downtown was tossed around a lot in 2011. Everybody has one or is working on creating one as they pursue the newfound love of things urban. Downtown Development Authorities, Chambers of Commerce, Main Street programs had Main Streets - and their equivalents - throughout metro Detroit putting money into makeovers and facelifts in 2011 as city leaders saw promise in creating places that preserve history, have varied businesses and invite walking, biking, strolling.

The changes were big and small. Together should convey: You want to come here. Decorative, energy-efficient street lights, attractive, theme-appropriate benches, trash-receptacles, pedestrian-safe sidewalks and crosswalks, art installations, benches, historic preservation projects, special events, facade grants, kiosks to direct visitors, even phone apps to get them around town - all wrapped in business recruitment and PR.

Cities with the most real downtowns: Rochester, Ferndale, Royal Oak, Mount Clemens, Dearborn, Plymouth, Northville. The up-and-comers: Auburn Hills, Clarkston, Berkley, Novi, Wyandotte.

Downtown Rochester $1 million streetscape re-do is on

Downtown Lake Orion gets $2 million streetscape, new microbrewery

Mount Clemens invests more than $250K in way-finding signs

Wyandotte DDA's business improvement grants paying off

Nightlife builds in downtown Plymouth

Ice rink cometh to Auburn Hills heating up plans for downtown

Graduate housing, downtown parking and retail complex coming to Auburn Hills

Main Street Oakland recognizes top downtown projects

By Kim North Shine

Streets for all. Designing cities that welcome all forms of transportation

Streets for everyone. The Michigan Complete Streets initiative gained momentum in 2011 in metro Detroit and around the state as cities enacted changes or made plans to design roads and sidewalks that take pedestrians, cyclists and drivers into account. The Michigan's Complete Streets movement got props for being a role model nationwide. Separately from Complete Streets, cities and various nonprofits worked on the same goal: streets that accommodate all. It's been a process playing out for a few years now so expect to see more bike lanes, new style crosswalks and other changes coming to a town near you.

Michigan is national leaders in street design that serves cars, bikes and pedestrians

Streetscape grants from Royal Oak's WA3 help unify Woodward Corridor

Royal Oak's non-motorized transportation plan is out for public feedback

Walkers, cyclists may like changes coming to Grosse Pointe, Dearborn

By Kim North Shine

Former Borders manager rewrites bookstore closing by opening her own

Lisa Taylor wasn't ready or to close the book on her career as a bookstore manager when Borders shut down in April.

So Taylor, a Mount Clemens resident who worked at the Borders store in Utica for 17 years, opened her own bookstore.

Used on New -- the books are used and the store is on New Street in downtown Mount Clemens -- opened in May and since then Taylor has seen there is still a market for books. Not only are there book lovers who see electronic readers as inadequate, but there are readers who want good prices on books. For example, she says, the latest, barely used Janet Evanovich retails for $28 new, or $9 at her store.

"People still like the experience of the bookstore and the book, the tactile, the feel, the smell," says Taylor, who's 43 and started working at Borders at age 25.

"While I was going through the liquidation process at Borders I saw how much people wanted discounted books," Taylor recalls. "They still liked books, they just wanted them at a more affordable price."

Besides not wanting to see the demise of the bookstore, Taylor says she went into business for herself because "I didn't want to grow up. I didn't want to go into the real world."

Taylor says downtown Mount Clemens is a great spot to own a business. "There's always something going on here. There are events...There are festivals all summer long," she says of the city that is the seat of Macomb County and home to its busy courthouse and county offices. "I get the court traffic, the jurors who have time to kill."

Her husband, Dave, who owns Weirdsville in the Clem as well, helps her run the bookstore that they hope has many chapters to go.

Source: Lisa Taylor, owner, Used on New
Writer: Kim North Shine

Downtown Mount Clemens retailers take to trend of shared space

Retailers in downtown Mount Clemens are jumping on the national retailing trend of sharing space.

For at least the last decade corporate chains, especially restaurants, have shared space -- and costs and customers. Local independent retailers are seeing the wisdom in the trend of joint stores, AKA dual brands, nationally, says Arthur Mullen, the director of the Mount Clemens Downtown Development Authority.

He sees the Clem and its historic downtown as a "hotbed for joint stores," a business approach that not only saves start-up costs but also brings together businesses that complement one another.

Several businesses have gone into joint operations in the last year, and Mullen expects more to follow suit soon. There's the Bodhi Seed Yoga Studio and the MINDs Eye Bookstore and Wellness Center, which were the first joint stores to open in the summer of 2010. Mio Dio Boutique and TGM Skateboards followed in the fall of 2010.

This past summer the Used on New Bookstore opened with two joint stores -- Weirdsville and Redesigning Women -- all owned by family members.

Kathy & Co., an  established hair salon, brought in Big City Glam to sell accessories in the front of the salon.

"With two or three entrepreneurs pooling their resources, joint stores are inherently less risky to a pair or group of entrepreneurs versus a single owner," Mullen says. "Joint stores may also compliment each other, building and guaranteeing foot traffic for both retailers."

Writer: Kim North Shine
Source: Arthur Mullen, director, Mount Clemens Downtown Development Authority

Mt. Clemens invests more than $250K in way-finding signs

Just follow the signs if you want to find downtown Mount Clemens and its city attractions.

The Downtown Development Authority of this Macomb County city - the county seat - is putting more than $250,000 into signs that help visitors find their way to and around town.

More than 40 aptly-named wayfinding signs started going up last week and will be completed by year's end, says Mount Clemens DDA Director Arthur Mullen.

The signs are a growing form of municipal marketing, going from a macro to micro view, steering visitors from major thoroughfares toward the city, its downtown, and various attractions. And ultimately they show the way to parking and then sidewalk routes.

There will also be a downtown kiosk printed with an overview map, while other area maps in various spots make up the wayfinding system. Maps are also on the website of Mount Clemens DDA.

Designed by a Traverse City company called Corbin Design, the signs also depict Gratiot Avenue, one of the city's main inlets and outlets, as a loop that turns around errant drivers.

Besides directing visitors, the hope is to attract businesses who see the approach as a benefit for their customers. Complaints about navigating the city that has a river cutting through it and a complicated system of roads drove the idea of coming up with a signage system, a project started in 2008.

"Let's say someone needs to go and see the Crocker House, the Anton Art Center, the Michigan Transit Museum," some of the city's popular destinations, Mullen says. "The whole key about wayfinding is really improving the visitor experience. Anyone who's not familiar with an area hates to get lost…The signs can make the entire experience of getting to a destination a pleasant one," he explains. "You're driving in a car, you're worried about getting in an accident, getting lost…With the signs you're more at ease and you feel like the community cares about you because they've made an investment in helping you get there."

Mullen says museums and other institutions have found the signs may be responsible for a 10 percent increase in visits within two years after being posted.

Source: Arthur Mullen, director, Mount Clemens Downtown Development Authority
Writer: Kim North Shine

DTE adds 16 new electric car charging stations to growing network

It's getting easier to park and plug in electric cars as more charging stations open across metro Detroit.

DTE Energy is adding 16 plug-in electric vehicle charging stations, or PEVs, to the mix, including four at Detroit Metro Airport. They will be located in the two main parking decks at the airport – two on the eighth floor of the McNamara Terminal and two on the fourth floor of the Big Blue Deck by the North Terminal. There will be no cost for PEV drivers to use the charging stations, and they're scheduled to be operational within one to two weeks, DTE Energy spokesman Scott Simons says.

Of the 12 other stations which are installed or soon to be installed, two each are in Ferndale, Mt. Clemens, Rochester, the Village of Rochester Hills and Auburn Hills. Saline and Automation Alley in Troy have one apiece.

These latest PEVs join several electric vehicle chargers at DTE's downtown headquarters.

The installations are part of a General Motors Corp. project with the Department of Energy to build a system of charging stations to support the move away from oil reliance and toward alternative energy for automobiles. The project is supported by grants being shared with DTE and four other utilities across the U.S., Simons says. DTE received $400,000 and is matching with $400,000, he says.

"The more infrastructure there is, the more there will be an impetus for people to buy electric vehicles,"  Simons says. "The more infrastructure that's built in the country…the more people will see that this is as a viable option. Hopefully this will be the start of the nation's acceptance of electric vehicles and, going forward, being an environmentally-conscious country."

Source: Scott Simons, spokesman, DTE Energy
Writer: Kim North Shine

Come walk - or run, skate or bike - across Macomb County and beyond

A final nine miles of pavement - along with a some pretty major major - are the finishing touches on the Macomb Orchard Trail.

The 23 1/2-mile, multi-use, non-motorized paved path crosses Macomb County and beckons walkers, runners, skaters, bikers, stroller-pushers and the like to a pathways that will take them across the county and for many miles outside.

"It's opening up a whole regional trail system," says John Crumm, director of planning for the Macomb County Department of Roads.

The final nine miles are being laid in Armada and Richmond. A bridge is also being built over the Clinton River, and a soon-to-be announced park will open in Romeo in a brownfield where now stands an unattractive county road department service center, says Crumm.

The building in Romeo will become an access point, park, and parking lot, he says. "It will immensely improve that neighborhood."

There will also be many more access points on the trail, including more for the disabled.

The work should all be done this summer, Crumm says.

The Macomb Orchard Trail ties together Macomb County communities and their natural features. It connects to Oakland County at Dequindre Road and leads into Rochester to Paint Creek.

The trail is also a link in a statewide system to connect the Great Lakes, rivers and such, this one a piece of the path between Lakes Michigan and Huron.

Source: John Crumm, director of planning, Macomb County Department of Roads
Writer: Kim North Shine

Regional children's museum planned for downtown Mount Clemens

Ann Arbor has one. So does Flint, Saginaw, and Grand Rapids, and more cities in between. Children's Hands-On Museums.

Organizers behind what could be metro Detroit's next children's museum, this time in Macomb County, are traveling the state, learning how they work, what makes each one special and what they mean to the community as a whole.

They are also holding public meetings, seeking funding and embarking on a feasibility study that will take the project from planning and vision to reality. The project has the backing of local education officials, the Mount Clemens DDA, the Macomb County Chamber of Commerce, and others.

Construction is expected to begin in early 2014. The organizing committee for the regional children's hands-on museum has hired Informal Learning Experiences Inc. of Washington, D.C. to complete the study, which will be the blueprint for the museum.

"We've been working on it awhile," says Monika Rittner, an organizer, who visited the Flint museum earlier this week. "It's really past the idea stage. We've got a lot of the foundation work put together and getting the right people in place. The best part is as more people hear about it they are very excited."
When the organizers first met the impetus was to broaden Macomb County's cultural offerings and to provide local children with enriching places to visit close-by. As talk turned to planning it became clear that interest was spread across the region and the potential for economic runoff was high.

"The first priority was to provide resources for Macomb County children, but there are other by-products that come with it," Rittner says. "First, there's increasing travel and tourism. When you're in town to visit a museum you usually walk down the street, look through the shops and have dinner."

"It will help some of the businesses around the museum itself as far as foot traffic. I think in particular it's going to help with the image of Macomb County itself. Enough like this hasn't been done and there's no excuse for it. We're lacking on cultural activities in our community. We're trying to improve that," says Rittner, who is working to figure out a theme and character for the Mount Clemens museum and how it will connect to its Macomb County surroundings.

The actual location of the museum is still to be decided. An informational meeting for donors will be held at noon on June 14,
2011 at the Anton Art Center.

"Every museum is different and their focuses are different -- their idea of how children should be interacting with their environment and how they're going to get the most out of it," Rittner says. "What's been great is how everyone I've called and met with really want to help us. They don't see us as competition. They see having another good museum as being good for everyone."

Source: Monika Rittner, organizer, Macomb Hands-On Children's Museum
Writer: Kim North Shine

Lake St. Clair water trail to beckon kayakers, paddlers

By August, a water trail along Lake St. Clair should be ready to welcome kayakers and water paddlers and potentially bring a wave of prosperity to Macomb County communities located along the path.

The trail, funded by a $10,000 grant from the Michigan Sea Grant to the Lake St. Clair Tourism Development Program, will connect to a statewide system of water trails in Wayne and St. Clair counties and be suited to all levels of open water kayaking and paddle sports.

"There's phenomenal fishing in Lake St. Clair and kayak fishing is becoming more popular. And as that sport grows there's tremendous opportunity to take advantage of this," says Mary Bohling, Michigan Sea Grant extension educator for Southeast Michigan.

Along the trail are outlets to lakefront communities. Harrison Township, St. Clair Shores, Chesterfield, and New Baltimore formed the tourism development group and shared the cost of a planner from the Michigan State University Extension center.

"Just like the lake, the coastline is a built-in economic development tool, and we should be doing all we can to take advantage of the opportunities it presents," Macomb County Commissioner James Carabelli says. Carabelli is also co-chair of the county's Economic Development Committee.

The water trail for the first time will link lake outlets to points of interest in Macomb County, Bohling says.

The end product of the project is a map that will detail points of interests, from marshes for paddling and swimming beaches to lighthouses, the Edsel and Eleanor Ford House, and nature centers.

The maps will be distributed at libraries, city halls, parks, and local businesses such as marinas, Bohling says. Residents, paddlers and marina operators are part of focus groups to meet in May, prior to a public comment session that will help guide the best design of the trail.

Bohling says community involvement will help determine what sorts of activities would be wanted and how the information will be spread.

Macomb County Commissioner David Flynn, chair of the Economic Development Committee calls the water trail a creative example of how to use natural assets for economic development.

Source: Macomb County Board of Commissioners and Mary Bohling, Michigan Sea Grant extension educator for Southeast Michigan
Writer: Kim North Shine

Mount Clemens historic train depot up for restoration

The train depot in Mount Clemens, a site on the state and national registers of historic places, is undergoing a face-lift, thanks to a grant from the State Historic Preservation Office.

The $18,000 grant from the SHPO and a $12,000 match from the city will cover the rehab of the masonry on the building built in 1859 and used today for the Michigan Transit Museum.

Its historical significance, other than its crucial connection with transportation, is as the place where inventor Thomas Edison worked and learned telegraphy. It is also believed he saved the station manager's son from the path of a moving boxcar.

The repairs to the brick and other masonry are expected to be completed by June 30 and in the long run, keep the face of one of the national historical treasurers looking its best.

The grant awarded to the depot was the largest in Southeast Michigan, MSHPO spokeswoman Laura Ashlee says.

Source: Laura Ashlee, communications coordinator, State Historic Preservation Office
Writer: Kim North Shine

U.S. Census numbers as development tools

While population declines were the mostly the rule, according to U.S. Census data released last week, many metro Detroit communities are using news of their population gains to lure business and attract more residents.

Sterling Heights, Macomb County's second largest city and the state's fourth largest, and Rochester, one of the fastest growing cities in Michigan and Oakland County's fastest with an increase of 21.4 percent from 2000-2010, have already hailed their growth as harbingers of future prosperity.

Rochester officials are calling their population jump from 10,439 in 2000 to 12,711 in 2010 evidence that a formula of mixed housing options, a vibrant downtown, access to trails and water and a solid commercial base has worked and is reason to show other prospective businesses and residents that the city is on solid ground and poised for economic prosperity.

Sterling Heights, which grew 4.2 percent from 124,471 in 2000 to 129,699, in 2010, is spreading word about how it got here.

"Sterling Heights is known as one of the safest cities in America," Mayor Richard Notte says. "Businesses have seen fit to reinvest, build and relocate in our city, as witnessed by $1 billion in development over the past year. Sterling Heights is still experiencing a strong housing market with two residential developments in full swing. And finally, residents choose the city because of our excellent public school systems and proximity to world-class higher education opportunities."

Other population gainers include Birmingham, Dearborn, Macomb Township, Brownstown Township, and Romulus.  Losers include Royal Oak, Pontiac, Ferndale, Warren, Mt. Clemens and Livonia.

Overall, Southeast Michigan lost 2.7 percent of its population, dropping from 4,833,368 in 2000 to 4,704,743 in 2010. However, the number of households remained nearly the same.

A large part of the loss is due to a 25 percent population decline in Detroit. According to SEMCOG, the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments, population of many of the nations' cities declined. However, many of those same urban centers are experiencing an economic rebirth, according to SEMCOG.

Wayne County, Michigan's most populous county with 1.8 million people, lost 11.7 percent of its residents.  Its neighbors in the tri-county area, Macomb and Oakland, saw population gains. SEMCOG's Southeast Michigan figures cover seven counties in addition to these three: Livingston, Monroe, St. Clair and Washtenaw.

In metro Detroit, Oakland County came up with a 0.7 percent increase in the 10-year span while Macomb registered a 6.7 percent gain.

Whether the population gains were minimal or substantial, communities are celebrating the upticks and awaiting anxiously a demographic breakdown, namely age groups which point to a community's attractiveness and chance for thriving. Those numbers will be released by the U.S. Census Bureau this summer.

Source: SEMCOG, city of Sterling Heights and Mayor Richard Notte, Rochester City Manager Jaymes Vettraino
Writer: Kim North Shine

Mount Clemens scores 10th new downtown business since May

Two new business have opened in recent weeks in downtown Mount Clemens, adding to an eclectic mix of establishments in Macomb County's county seat and bringing to 10 the total of new operations to open in the last eight months.

Gibbons Bakery, once an institution in The Clem, reopened under new ownership near the end of 2010. It's run by a family of Yugoslav immigrants who decided to revive the bakery that gave them jobs, taught them English and brought them opportunity when they came to the U.S. in the 1990s. With the return of Gibbons and its beloved cherry nut bars, downtown gets back a piece of its history that began with the original bakery debut in 1929.

On Thursday, Gemini Moon, a metaphysical and spiritual supply store and gift shop, became the 10th business to open since May.

The openings along with the relocation of the Box Theater from an upper level space to the ground floor has halved downtown's ground floor vacancy rate from 31 percent in May 2010 to 15 percent, says Arthur Mullen, executive director of the Mount Clemens Downtown Development Authority.

Mullen says a deliberate recruitment and marketing effort and regular DDA events and activities that draw crowds downtown have paid off. It's "never just luck with these things. You create a welcoming and active district, and investment will follow.  We've been focused on that for several years."

He also credits an appetite among businesses for walkable downtown districts over suburban strip malls.

"Downtowns have been doing much better than suburban commercial strip buildings and malls due to several other reasons," Mullen says.

Plans to bring in more business and more people continue. "We will be expanding the attraction efforts over the next four months with a revamped website, business attraction folder, and direct contacts with prospective businesses."

Source: Arthur Mullen, executive director Mount Clemens Downtown Development Authority

Writer: Kim North Shine

Reduced rate art studio space available in downtown Mt. Clemens

One Mt. Clemens business is turning empty space into creative space.

According to David Case, president of Fox Photography in downtown Mt. Clemens, the office space on the floor above his family's photography business has been largely vacant as a result of most of the title company tenants vacating after everything went online; two still rent space there
to take advantage of proximity to the county building.

After asking around and re-evaluating the rent they were asking, Case partnered with the Anton Art Center to offer a reduced rate to artists for studio space, turning it into an arts incubator of sorts. "It's very affordable space, it's in town, and it's close to the art center," Case says.

Plus, with each signed lease, Case will make a contribution equal to the first month's rent to the Anton Art Center. So far, a jewelry designer has moved in and more have come to look at the remaining five spaces.

Photography being an art in itself, Case says the business is sensitive to the needs of artists making a name for themselves. "The town has been smacked hard, and there's not a lot of retail in town right now," he says. "We need some bodies. Usually when a town turns around, artists come first."

The spaces range in size from 80-360 square feet. The rental rate is $1 per square foot per month, on a month-to-month basis. Utilities are commonly shared between the studio tenants.

Source: David Case, president of Fox Photography
Writer: Kristin Lukowski
103 Mt. Clemens Articles | Page: | Show All
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