Williamston City Manager Corey Schmidt and other city residents said they want a manufacturer that is a good fit for the community and region to move into the I-96 Industrial Park.
Located on North Williamston Road, the industrial park is 40 to 50 acres of green land that has roads, water and sewer lines, Schmidt said.
The land in the industrial park is zoned for businesses that are classified as ‘light industrial,’ ‘office components’ or ‘research and development,’ or companies that can manufacture items in enclosed spaces without extensive noise or pollution.
The Lansing Economic Area Partnership
The city is working with LEAP, the Lansing Economic Area Partnership, to find a business to use the land.
LEAP is an organization that helps downtown growth and redevelopment as well as placemaking. LEAP is a versatile organization that will help Williamston with upcoming developments.
LEAP is also in charge of the Environmental Protection Agency Brownfield’s Grant, which funds safe cleanup and sustainable reuse of contaminated properties, according to the EPA website.
Why Development is important to Williamston
Schmidt also said a new business would bring jobs to the community, as well as more tax revenue.
The city of Williamston operates with a balanced budget, so more tax money is not a necessity, but Schmidt said it would be useful for infrastructure. Some of the potential infrastructure projects could include taking care of older streets and park improvement projects.
Will Long is the chair of the Downtown Development Authority, which improves the downtown area, parking structures and building grants. Long is also the vice president of the chamber, which focuses on city business, events, visitors and community shopping.
Long said new business in the industrial park would be a positive thing for Williamston. “Everything kind of goes hand-in-hand with the industrial park and downtown,” Long said. The more people who are working in Williamston, the more they’re going to shop, said Long.
He said a development could provide more than just economic growth. He said, “It’s gonna build our residency and that’s going to help the school, everything kind of works together.”
The more well-paying jobs coming into Williamston, the better, said Long, because new jobs attract new residents who will contribute to the tax base. Schmidt said he doesn’t have a preference for the type of establishment in the industrial park, and Long agreed. “I don’t think we should limit it,” Long said. “I think it could be anything.”
The city of Williamston conducted a survey in 2015, which revealed that the community wants to preserve the charm of downtown, but still supports new growth.
East Lansing citizen Lynne Nyberg manages shipping at 141 Design Company in Williamston. In reference to the economic growth possibilities in the industrial park, Nyberg said: “It’s always good to have extra money flowing in the area . . . Corporate people would be spending money so that’s a good thing too.” A new business in the industrial park would also promote growth within the downtown area.
“I don’t think that we would see direct competition,” said Schmidt, “and that’s important because one of the community’s goals going back several years is that any new development should attempt to be harmonious with the downtown, so as not to detract from what is really a great, charming downtown district.”