Thursday, August 03, 2000
Up to 10 Zone Designations to be AwardedThe Michigan Economic Development Corporation released a request for proposals (RFPs) today calling for applications from municipalities interested in receiving SmartZone designation, under Public Act 248 of 2000.Municipalities, in partnership with local economic development corporations, educational institutions and/or private developers, which have formed or are planning to form Local Development Financing Authorities are eligible to apply for the designation. SmartZones, formerly known as Smart Parks, will be established through amendments to the Local Development Financing Act.This amendment allows municipalities to use tax increment financing for property acquisition, infrastructure, business incubators and other park facilities, management and marketing.“The SmartZone program is intended to help grow Michigan's high-tech business base for the future,” said Doug Rothwell, president and CEO of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. “These zones will help Michigan obtain national and international recognition as a center for technological advancement and give communities unique real estate to attract technology companies and workers." Up to 10 of these high-technology zones will be designated throughout the state by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.Four SmartZones are likely to be designated by December 31, 2000.All zones must be designated by December 31, 2002. The program aims to stimulate the growth of technology-based businesses and jobs by creating recognized clusters of technological businesses and research institutions throughout the state.Examples of these types of businesses already located in Michigan include:Gentex Corporation in Zeeland; Ash Stevens, Inc. in Detroit; as well as Mechanical Dynamics, Genomic Solutions and Beyond Interactive all in Ann Arbor.The zones will bring business, research activities, training and support services together in one location allowing for easy collaboration. The MEDC will grant SmartZone applications to those municipalities with the greatest potential for successful development and operation.At a minimum, proposals must include:A defined vision and industry focus that takes advantage of local resources; A fully developed business plan; Well defined plans to attract major anchor tenants; Support for new and small businesses in high-tech fields; Clear community support; Documented market feasibility; and A defined site ready for near-term development. While highest priority will be given to those projects that meet one or more of the following criteria: Committed major anchor tenants; Active support and involvement by a local higher education or private-research-based institution; An incubator facility; A limited need for state funding, beyond tax increment financing; Other governmental support; and Clustering of two or more municipalities, located within the same county, under one Local Development Financing Authority. “An ideal proposal will contain a clear, focused and laid out plan for the development of the SmartZone,” Rothwell said.“We are not interested in an abstract vision.We are seeking an in-depth strategy to make the zone a viable reality.”Applications for SmartZone designation are due by October 16.Specifics on the application process, the complete RFPs and more SmartZone information can be found on the Michigan Economic Development Corporation website at: www.michigan.org under the Business Services section.