November 23, 2013

The Morning Sun

Mt. Pleasant may not be a first thought when someone plans on starting up a business in Michigan.

But the city of Mt. Pleasant is one of eight communities to be recognized as an area that fosters entrepreneurial growth and economic development by an annual eCities research project.

Downtown Development Director Michelle Sponseller said the recognition is a result of a collaboration between the city, Middle Michigan Development Corporation and the Central Michigan University Research Center.

“We took stock of all of the incentives here that are available on a communitywide level, not just the city,” she said. “It’s the joint effort that we all can put in when a new business comes into town.”

Sponseller said that sometimes smaller businesses would work well in downtown Mt. Pleasant.

If that’s the case, Sponseller does what she can to help developing businesses look into grants, financial partnerships and business plan training.

If the entrepreneur is looking at a more industrialized business, Sponseller said she works with Bill Mrdeza, community services and economic development director, to see if the business would make a better fit in South Industrial Park, or if CMURC would be a better resource.

The three entities working together is really what made Mt. Pleasant receive this recognition, Sponseller said.

In order to make it into the study, communities must submit information regarding their practices in economic development and entrepreneurial growth.

This is the first year Mt. Pleasant has submitted information, Sponseller said.

Sixty-six cities were involved this year,and 102 have submitted information over the past few years.

The other cities identified were Imlay City, Madison Heights, Meridian Township, Sturgis and Tecumseh.

Mt. Pleasant also was recognized as a five-star community, Sponseller said.

According to a city press release, five-star communities spend a combined $2.2 million on economic development, have 15 percent of Michigan’s population with a professional degree and 92 percent share services related to economic development with another municipality.

The annual eCities research project, which began in 2007, uses data supplied by the participants, as well as other public records to assemble a six-factor, 32-item index of entrepreneurial activity, looking at such factors as clustering, incentives, growth, policies, community and education.

The study focuses on entrepreneurship because of its importance to expansion and diversification of Michigan’s regional economies and the impact small businesses have on job creation.