December 26, 2016

​​Morning Sun

The master plan to develop a business and research district on the south end of Central Michigan University’s campus has moved one step closer to reality with the rezoning of land in the Mount Pleasant SmartZone.

The Mt. Pleasant City Commission recently voted to rezone the 300 acres of land near Central Michigan University Research Corp. to be consistent with university zoning.

Businesses will not only have direct access to CMU experts and resources, it also will be a chance for hands-on learning for students across disciplines.

Under the new guidelines, the CMU Board of Trustees will approve land leases for proposed developments vetted by CMURC.

“We are excited about the opportunities that further development of the SmartZone will bring to our students, particularly their exposure to multiple career opportunities,” said CMU President George E. Ross, who serves as chair of the CMURC Board of Directors.

The change means CMURC President and CEO Erin Strang and her team are now ready to begin fielding ideas from developers interested in taking advantage of the opportunity.

Developments could include launching a new venture or expanding existing commercial, office and research operations.

“We invite developers to create an experience with their concepts and projects. Not only will the SmartZone become a business hub where small businesses, community and the university converge, but a high energy development with unique attributes,” Strang said.

The vision for the Mt. Pleasant SmartZone calls for bold and sustainable designs that will create a walkable and bikeable business/residential experience with a variety of potential development projects. Possible developments range from the creation of satellite offices for existing technology-centered businesses to unique food establishments using state-of-the-art food preparation.

In addition to placemaking and contributing to the economic growth of the Mt. Pleasant area, the SmartZone gives businesses a chance to collaborate and have direct access to services provided through CMURC as well as experts at CMU.

Approximately 900 jobs have been created since the SmartZone’s inception, with 500 additional jobs projected over the next five years, according to Strang.

The move is the next step following an announcement earlier this year that the Michigan Treasury Department and Michigan Economic Development Corp. approved a five-year extension of tax capture funding in the Mt. Pleasant SmartZone.