By Josh Sidorowicz
Holt Journal staff writer
When Joe Garcia and his wife Erika opened their Snap Fitness gym, 2040 N. Aurelius Road, in December of last year they immediately recognized the appeal of the Holt-Delhi Township community.
“I chose Holt because here I was able to put one of these fitness centers right in the neighborhood, right in the middle of Holt,” Joe said.
“I wanted to create a neighborhood gym with a community feel and it’s straightforward and very easy to do business here.”
Since 2009, the number of new businesses in Delhi Township has doubled as the community continues to offer incentives and other various programs to attract business owners to the area.
Unveiled at the Oct. 4 Delhi Township Board of Trustees meeting, the Municipal Performance Dashboard—which includes data regarding the township’s fiscal stability, quality of life and economic strength—showed a steady increase in the number of new businesses opening up in the township from 10 new businesses in 2009 to 20 new businesses in 2010.
Director of Community Development Tracy Miller said she’s not entirely surprised by the numbers because Delhi has a lot to offer.
“Our biggest asset is directly related to the sense of ‘quality place’ that is offered here,” Miller said. “We have attractive schools and neighborhoods where people want to live and retailers are attracted to that.”
Delhi’s large amounts of available land with practical zoning land and already in-place infrastructure also makes the community enticing to prospective entrepreneurs—assets that are key to keeping Delhi competitive, Miller said.
“We really try to position ourselves to receive development that might go elsewhere, either in the state or in the country,” she said citing the recently approved site dubbed ‘Project X’ for a yet-to-be announced automotive supplier.
Al McFayden, the Executive Director of the Delhi Charter Township Downtown Development Authority (DDA) said both the township and the DDA offer various incentives and programs to lure news businesses to the area and to facilitate existing ones.
The annual Delhi Business Expo, which will mark it’s third year Oct. 26, is designed to connect local residents with the various businesses in the community they might not otherwise know about.
“It’s for businesses to connect with other local businesses and for businesses to connect with the customers,” McFayden said. “The idea is to showcase our local businesses to our residents, because it’s all about supporting locally now.”
McFayden said the expo offers exposure for the small businesses in the community that can’t afford high profile marketing and instead rely on word-of-mouth.
“It’s a chance for people who might be in the market for various things to see there are local options for that particular service or good,” he said.
“And then we find people saying, ‘Oh, I didn’t realize so-and-so was in business here’ and in that way Holt businesses become much more accessible.”
The DDA has also worked hard to attract small businesses by offering a program called BizBuzz, a partnership program between Delhi and the Michigan Small Business and Technology Development Center (MI-SBTDC).
Tom Donaldson, the regional director of the MI-SBTDC said the program was developed to make independent Delhi businesses stronger and better.
“Delhi wanted to really encourage their local businesses and especially with the past few years with the economy, it’s been hard for small businesses to get financing and such. That’s where we come in,” Donaldson said.
The BizBuzz service is offered at no charge to business owners and works with them on marketing strategies, financing, business planning and setting benchmarks. The service also has partnerships with other communities in the six county area surrounding Lansing.
“Delhi really goes to bat for businesses in the area, even beyond these services,” Donaldson said. “I’ve been really impressed with how the Delhi DDA handles businesses and supports them.”