The Williamston City Council took one step forward in becoming certified by Redevelopment Ready Communities.
RRC planner Brett Hanlon gave his baseline report that described Williamston’s progress in the certification process.
RRC, part of the Community Development Division that works with communities to focus on economic development, is under the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, which is the umbrella in Michigan that oversees economic development.
“I help communities across the state of all different sizes approve their plans, update their plans, streamline their processes, so they are in the best position to attract and support investments,” said Hanlon.
Hanlon said RRC is the foundation for community development.
“Our job is to create places where businesses want to be located,” said Hanlon.
RRC has a track record of success with communities in the state. Throughout Michigan, there are 281 communities engaged in the program and of those, 38 are certified.
Williamston is located within the seventh region that includes Lansing and Meridian Township that are RRC-certified communities.
Hanlon said it is the responsibility of the city and its staff to complete the guidelines set by RRC and to continue to be transparent to gain certification.
“The clearer your processes and zoning can be, the more likely an applicant will come in and be confident with their investments in your town,” said Hanlon.
Hanlon discussed how well the city is doing regarding the implementation of proposed developments outlined in its master plan, which also coincides with the result of its baseline report.
“The baseline report is very good, you should be proud,” said Hanlon. “It’s a testament to the good work you are doing here.”
Williamston’s master plan was adopted in 2015 and is still current within a five-year window. Hanlon said its plan meets several of the best RRC practices.
Specifically, with the economic development strategy, Williamston has the Downtown Development Authority and the Economic Development Corporation, which work toward a lot of the goals RRC commends.
Benefits of RRC certification
Mayor Tammy Gilroy said she thinks becoming RRC certified will be “another feather in their cap” when potential businesses and industries are looking for sites.
“We’re ready for growth,” said Mayor Gilroy. “We have vacant property available. It’s been a long time in the making, and we are starting to look more attractive to a company that wants to expand.”
“Williamston has made major improvements in our downtown district,” said Schmidt. “I think RRC is going to help more in our downtown, in our traditional downtown, because the incentives that the state offers for community development are largely focused on traditional downtowns.”
Gilroy echoed Schmidt, underscoring the immense progress made in the downtown area.
“The more we have to offer, I think it’s great for the community,” said Gilroy. “It’s truly just a fun town.”
Councilmember Jeff Roland is new to the council after filling a vacancy. He understands that RRC can bring business to the community.
“I think it’s important … to make it more attractive for them to want to develop here and be a part of our community,” said Roland.
The certification process moves up to the city council and advances at whatever pace it chooses, as there is no RRC deadline.
Hanlon repeatedly stressed that the ability of the city council to continue the process is based on Williamston’s staff time and resources.
To continue engagement with RRC, Hanlon asked the city council pass a resolution outlining its thoughts on Hanlon’s report and its willingness to work toward certification.
Once the resolution is passed, Hanlon will continue to help Williamston toward RRC certification.
“I will work with their staff and answer any questions they have,” said Hanlon. “I’ll see what kind of resources they could benefit from, and where we can help the most.”