By Griffin Wasik
Ingham County Chronicle Staff Reporter
LANSING — Downtown Lansing is busy. The city attracts tens of thousands of people from all over the state to work and attend festivities every day, Layna Anderson, communications and marketing manager of Downtown Lansing Inc., said. According to the U.S. Census, Ingham County contains 22,700 firms. Lansing is responsible for roughly 37 percent of the total number of firms in Ingham County with 8,363. The capital city contains many businesses, Anderson said. “Downtown Lansing Inc. wants to make Lansing a place where people want to be,” Anderson said.
Washington Street lies one block east of the Michigan State Capitol building in downtown Lansing. Crammed between the small eateries, boutique shops, and retail office spaces are many empty storefronts plastered with “For Sale” or “For Lease” signs. Mindy Biladeau, executive director of Downtown Lansing Inc. says those vacant properties paints the wrong picture of downtown. “Just because we have vacant properties doesn’t mean we have this huge vacancy issue,” Biladeau said. “Our vacancy is under 10 percent for our first floor commercial retail in a very large district, and alone 26 businesses opened last year.”
Cheryl Maloney and her family love watching the Silver Bells in the City parade every year downtown Lansing and according to Maloney, she and her three girls anxiously await the fireworks to go off behind the Capitol building. “The fireworks are a good addition to all of the festivities,” Maloney said. “My family always loves going to watch.” According to Brian Jackson, chief deputy city clerk at the Lansing City Clerk Office, it takes a lot to get approval of this display. The event coordinators need forms, proof of funds and approval from the fire marshal and state police department.
Bustling bars, sandwich shops, and cafés – downtown Lansing is an environment that’s always changing, and always finding new ways to attract more people. Businesses in Lansing are vital to the quality of life of its inhabitants, and numerous organizations in the state of Michigan work to attract and keep businesses in the Lansing area to keep the quality of life of it’s families high. The Lansing Economic Area Partnership or LEAP is one of these organizations and works daily to bring new businesses to Lansing and the tri-county area. “We’re tasked with attracting new businesses to Lansing, and also helping to grow those businesses, so they can provide jobs for families,” LEAP Chief Operating Officer Steve Willobee said. LEAP has helped bring such companies as Niowave Inc., and Farm Bureau Insurance to Michigan and the Lansing area, and continually works with GM to grow customer awareness of new cars being built in Michigan.
LANSING – One may notice the new green eye sores that temporarily line the streets of Old Town. The neighborhood of Old Town has been experiencing a trash issue, brought to the attention of the Old Town Commercial Association by its staff members. Old Town hosts many festivals and events throughout the year that produce a lot of waste. The only trash cans installed were ones funded by the OTCA. Since the organization is non-profit and has a small budget, the number of trash bins was minimal, due to the bins costing $400 apiece.