DIVERSIFYING OUR LOCAL ECONOMY
One of the biggest challenges we face is the changing retail and big-box store economic model for our city. A diversified local economy is vital to maintain a vibrant city where residents want to continue to live in and move to. Given the recent downturn for big-box retailers and chain restaurants, we must work with local business partners and our Economic Development Team to being to diversify our local economic base and bring new types of businesses and destination attractions to our city.
RESULTS AND ACCOMPLISHMENTS
Worked with my colleagues on council, the Mayor's Administration, and local business leaders to enact a comprehensive Economic Development plan for Westland's future.
In 2021 The City of Westland including the Mayor's Administration, our Economic Development Director Aubrey Berman,
and your City Council partnered with local business leaders and an outside organization called the Bonner Advisory
Group. We partnered to develop a comprehensive economic development plan. A plan that will both evaluate what our
major economic challenges are facing the community and impalement strategies and solutions that will help to
transform our local economy away from being reliant on the Westland Mall, big box stores, and strip malls.
We need to diversify our local economy and bring in businesses that will be destination attractions, bringing people
in from all over Southeast Michigan. Creating a comprehensive economic development plan and putting funding and
resources behind it can help better diversify and transform our local economy away from being overly reliant on the
Westland Mall and big box retail stores.
Read the full economic development plan here: https://www.cityofwestland.com/DocumentCenter/View/2519/Economic-Development-Strategy-Plan-2022-PDF
Worked on the committee to help small businesses facing financial hardship during the Pandemic. Distributed Small Business Grants through the CARES Act to support and help keep small businesses open during the Covid-19 pandemic.
During the height of the Covid-19 Pandemic I had the opportunity to work with our Economic Development Team and
develop a small business grant program for local businesses that had experienced financial hardship as a result of the
Pandemic and subsequent lockdowns. Together, we were able to support dozens of small business across Westland and
give out tens-of-thousands of dollars in financial relief to business owners utilizing taxpayer money that came
specifically from the Cares Act.
MY PLAN FOR MAKING GOVERNMENT WORK FOR YOU
Attract unique shopping and dining experiences: Big-Box stores and chain restaurants are everywhere. We need to build a local economic infrastructure that allows for a greater number of small businesses to open their doors in Westland, providing residents with more unique shopping and dining experiences. When you look at communities like Dearborn, Livonia, and Plymouth, they have hundreds of unique shops and restaurants that you won't find anywhere else. We need those types of small businesses here in Westland to make our city a destination where people want to spend their money at.
Develop a long term plan for the Westland Mall: As a Council member, I will work closely with my colleagues, our Economic Development Team, and the property management company that owns the Westland Mall to develop a long-term, sustainable solution for the mall property.
The city put out its "City Centre" proposal for the mall property and the Wayne/Warren road areas. I think this initial assessment and planning was a great start. Diversifying our economy means getting ahead of the mall situation before it ends up a shuttered, vacant property like Livonia has with Livonia Mall and Waterford has with Summit Place Mall.
Building a downtown area: I support the concept of building a downtown type of area in Westland as I believe we can use it as a launching point to attract more unique shopping and dining experiences. The downtown area can also be a mixed-use development with residential living in addition to the commercial and retail space. A downtown can also make our cities economy more regionally attractive to residents of other communities.
Any downtown development must be more than just big-box stores, chain restaurants, and strip malls. I want the downtown area to be walk-able and safe first and foremost. I want to storefronts and restaurants developed that are street facing with parking in the back of the building.
I want to ensure that our downtown is placemaked in the appropriate area for maximized potential and economic development. The current proposed site for a downtown is in the Ford Rd. and Newburgh area. I also believe we should consider other areas, such as the Central City/Warren/Wayne road corridor near the mall property. My primary concern with the Ford and Newburgh site is the density of traffic and noise pollution that comes from it. Small, quaint downtown districts like Plymouth and Northville don't have traffic going by at upwards of 45-50mph.
I want to ensure that a downtown location developed off of Ford and Newburgh doesn't fall victim to the problems that plague Canton Township's downtown development along Ford Rd, with strip malls, congestion, and fast moving, noisy traffic.
Allowing recreational marijuana dispensaries: With the sale of recreational marijuana now legal in Michigan I believe this is an industry that can create tremendous economic growth for our state and communities that adopt it. Here in Westland, we took the proactive steps to allow the sale of recreational cannabis and marijuana in our city. We have the opportunity to work with business partners in the cannabis community to bring new economic development and revenue to our city. Marijuana sales shops and dispensaries can employ people locally here in Westland with good-paying jobs and can help us fix up abandon properties and blighted buildings.