Marquette, MI (7/27/2020)
Local businesses and entrepreneurs are critical to Marquette's economy and part of what makes us feel so unique. These businesses are not only job creators but they play a major role in keeping money local and make up a significant amount of our local tax revenue. Those taxes are needed to pay for local services and investments.
These businesses have been hit hard by the economic devastation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of these businesses are on the brink of permanently closing and some unfortunately have already. Although the majority of the aid to these businesses is coming from the State and Federal government our local government can still implement an innovative plan to stimulate our local businesses, entrepreneurship, and economic recovery. I have created a brief overview of my plan to do just that. This plan is focused on revamping our approach to a healthy local economy.
This policy outline is the result of months of fine tuning, researching, and speaking directly to small business owners, developers, economic development leaders, and policy experts.
Increasing mixed-use zoning in high residential area's
- This would allow for greater flexibility and encourage entrepreneurs and start-up creation. For example you could take a home zoned for mixed-use and on the first floor you could have a business and on second floor is the owners living area.
Local Business Priority Ordinance
- Gives priority status to local and regional (Upper Peninsula) businesses and developers
for purchasing and developing city owned land.
Waiving permitting required for outdoor seating.
- The Marquette City Commission did this in response to the 50% indoor seating restrictions in response to COVID-19. This decision however was only temporary, we could remove this barrier permanently and areas such as 3 rd Street and Washington street would boom with foot traffic and especially if the city installs benches on the widened sidewalks.
Selectively increasing the maximum height allowed in commerce districts.
- Just to clarify, this would not include the lake shore. This would allow office buildings to increase space, workforce, and accommodate small local street level shops on the first floor of some buildings. This adds entrepreneurial buzz at the ground level and has added benefit of increasing density rather than sprawling.
Small Business and entrepreneur dashboard on the city website
- Provides guidance, applications, forms, and external contact information for
reaching local entrepreneurial and economic development groups in the Marquette
area. I did have an alternative to this mentioned to me, which consisted of creating a new position and hiring a local business liaison.
Creating a healthier walk and spend environment
- By creating/maintaining wider sidewalks, bike lanes, and installing public benches and trees when possible we can continue to foster a dynamic and appealing atmosphere for consumers to enjoy and increase the amount of money spent locally.
Increasing public transportation
- Creating a bus loop in conjunction with the County that has multiple stops
throughout residential neighborhoods, several stops throughout 3 rd street and
Washington street commerce areas, locally owned hotels, the hospital, NMU, and some