Council to discuss development district

ISHPEMING – The Ishpeming City Council on Wednesday is scheduled to discuss supporting the creation of a Next Michigan Development District and whether the city should get a police dog.

The council meets at 7 p.m. at the Ishpeming Senior Center.

Local government units in Delta and Marquette counties are being encouraged to lend support to creation of the district by requiring the Michigan Strategic Fund to designate at least one district above the 43rd parallel that consists of two contiguous counties with a combined population of between 100,000 and 110,000.

Ishpeming City Manager Jered Ottenwess in a memo to the council said according to the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, such districts foster economic opportunities in the state and prevent conditions of unemployment and underemployment and promotes economic growth focused on multi-modal transportation.

“I believe it is the most powerful set of economic development tools currently available in the state of Michigan and they can only be used through regional and intergovernmental cooperation,” Ottenwess said.

Ottenwess he recently participated in a meeting with the Marquette City Commission that also included Escanaba City Manager Jim O’Toole, state Sen. Tom Casperson, R-Escanaba, and state Rep. John Kivela, D-Marquette, as well as officials from Marquette County.

At the meeting, Casperson and Kivela said they intend to push for a local Next Michigan Development District, Ottenwess said.

According to Ottenwess, such a district would facilitate economic opportunities by providing a range of economic development tools across multiple jurisdictional boundaries, such as tax abatements, tax increment financing and renaissance zones.

Those offerings would be for eligible businesses that move products or services via two or more transportation modes, including air, roads, rail or water.

Also at Wednesday’s meeting, the city council is expected to discuss whether the city should get, or needs, a police dog.

The Ishpeming Business Association and Downtown Development Authority have discussed the idea of fundraising for a K-9 unit, Ottenwess said.

“I think the council should take a position so people who have an interest in the matter know what direction to go with it next,” Ottenwess said.

Ishpeming City Police Department Chief Dan Willey sent a letter to Ottenwess stating that after careful review he has come to the conclusion that the police department could not maintain a police dog because of staffing concerns, as well as costs.

Willey said the annual expense would be about $8,700, without counting overtime for going out on calls, and the start-up cost would be more than $60,000 for training, a vehicle and necessary equipment.

The council will also review the bids for the closed sewer portion of phase two of the Partridge Creek project, which is scheduled to be completed by the end of summer and the creek diverted by the end of fall.

Adelle Whitefoot can be reached at 906-486-4401.