The Port of Muskegon is one of 35 properties being targeted for strategic development through the Greenlight campaign. Courtesy Greenlight
A regional partnership has launched a targeted marketing campaign aimed at key developers for strategic sites in Kent and Muskegon counties.
The West Michigan Economic Partnership, a collaborative of seven municipal partners throughout West Michigan, announced on July 22 the launch of a proactive marketing campaign known as “Greenlight” to drive development of logistically strategic properties in Muskegon and Kent counties.
The Greenlight campaign focuses on six strategic development sites comprised of approximately 35 individual properties in Kent and Muskegon counties. As a targeted marketing campaign, Greenlight intends to attract large businesses and developers specializing in logistically sensitive industries, or those sectors served by multiple modes of transportation.
Tim Mroz, vice president of marketing and communications at The Right Place in Grand Rapids, said campaign materials will be used in direct marketing to site selection professionals, real estate agents, and a small subset of large Fortune-level companies managing their own real estate internally.
“Those three groups are bombarded every day with pitches for individual properties and parcels scattered all around the U.S. and we really wanted to separate ourselves from that noise,” said Mroz. “We acknowledged from the beginning that this was not going to be a mass marketing initiative. We are going to be scheduling meetings with site selection professionals in those three audiences, sharing this information, and introducing them to West Michigan within the context of these very strategic locations.”
The strategic development sites include the available space owned by Ashley Grand Rapids LLC at the Grand Rapids Commerce Center; Kent County-owned land at Gerald R. Ford International Airport -roperty; Site36 owned by the city of Wyoming Brownfield Redevelopment Authority; and Muskegon County-owned Muskegon County Business Park North.
The two additional sites include the Port of Muskegon, which is owned by West Michigan Dock, Market Corporation and Verplank Dock; and properties owned by Development Realty Ltd. Partnership and Chris Veneklasen at 52nd Street and Broadmoor Avenue SE.
Ben Swayze, Cascade Charter Township manager and Greenlight partner, said the seven municipalities came together to develop a marketing plan for properties served by two or more modes of transportation, such as highway, rail, port and air.
“We now have a set of properties we feel embody the characteristics that are needed for logistics-based companies,” said Swayze.
The West Michigan Economic Partnership includes Cascade Charter Township, the cities of Grand Rapids, Kentwood, Muskegon and Wyoming, and Kent and Muskegon counties. The collaborative group of municipalities is partnering with economic development agencies The Right Place, Michigan Economic Development Corp. and Muskegon Area First to use the targeted marketing campaign when meeting with key national and international developers and companies.
The Greenlight campaign is funded by a $20,000 grant from the MEDC and matching funds from municipality public financing and private funds from property owners, according to Swayze.
The regional collaboration among the municipalities in itself provides a unique message for the campaign’s target audience, according to Mroz.
“In our industry this is really unique that you are seeing, in essence, seven different municipalities all coming together to deal with a common problem which is open, developable land,” said Mroz. “You just don’t see that level of collaboration when you look at economic development around the country.”
Although the West Michigan Economic Partnership originally was launched by former Gov. Jennifer Granholm and based on granting developers access to different incentives, abatements, and credits against the previous tax system, Swayze said the purpose of the partnership now is to market the properties with access to multiple modes of transportation.
“The West Michigan Economic Partnership really started back in the 2010-2011 timeframe,” said Swayze. “The idea was these groups of municipalities would come to together with an opportunity to promote properties. The new governor really overhauled the tax system so it became an opportunity to market these properties rather than offer a lot of incentives.”
Grand Rapids Commerce Center
City of Grand Rapids
East side of Eastern Avenue, south of 36th Street, and north of 44th Street
Two existing buildings and six available lots
Gerald R. Ford International Airport
East side of Kraft Avenue, 52nd Street, 60th Street
City of Wyoming
Adjacent to U.S. 131, Buchanan Avenue SW, 36th Street
Port of Muskegon
City of Muskegon
560 Mart St., Muskegon; 2015 & 559 E. Western Ave., Muskegon
City of Kentwood
5385 Patterson Ave. SE; 6.77 acres
5600 Broadmoor Ave. SE; 13.09 acres
5300 Broadmoor Ave. SE; 17.10 acres
Muskegon County Business Park North
East side of Whitehall Road between Agard and McMillan roads
19 units; 127 acres