July 2021 | Commentary | EcoDev

Creating a Business-Friendly Environment

Tags: Transportation Infrastructure, Rail, E-commerce

At the crux of Michigan's central expressways, five Class A rail lines, and the Detroit Metropolitan Airport, you'll find the City of Romulus, which residents refer to as the "Home of Opportunity." The city's access to transportation and 3,146 acres of undeveloped land have positioned Romulus as a logistics hub for developers from Michigan and across the nation.

LeRoy Burcroff, Mayor, City of Romulus, Michigan, 734-942-7500

Working closely with logistics companies over the past year, the city has seen significant economic development despite the pandemic—progress that has proven to be equally important to the developers it does business with, such as Kroger and Amazon. Here are four ways to create a logistics-friendly business climate that is a win-win for municipalities and developers alike.

1. Evaluate infrastructure improvements. The logistics sector relies heavily on high-quality infrastructure—both above and below ground. Infrastructure that is visible to the eye, such as roads, sidewalks and parks, plays a significant role in easing transportation and boosting quality of life for businesses and their employees.

Upgrading and monitoring underground infrastructure, however, is equally important. Romulus recently upgraded its water system to include larger pipes, in turn increasing capacity for the Kroger distribution center in the city.

The city has also established an open-door policy with the major energy supplier in the area to make sure the local grid can support the electricity needed to run existing and future large-scale businesses. When it comes to infrastructure, there is more than meets the eye, and logistics developers should inquire with municipal partners about the status of both above and below ground assets before taking the leap on a new investment.

2. Streamline processes and remain flexible. Bureaucratic red tape in the development process is a surefire way to complicate and slow down progress. To speed things up and make progress easier for both developers and municipalities, Romulus streamlined the development process to reflect successful best practices in the business community.

We created a one-stop shop, with economic development, planning, the department of public works, and the building department all under one roof. This enabled us to loosen bottlenecks and remove unnecessary hurdles in the process—from permitting to breaking ground.

We found this consolidation method particularly beneficial during the pandemic, when we managed to bring in 27 new businesses since January 2020. Our streamlined FAST TRACK review and planning process helped both the Amazon and Kroger distribution centers move quickly to get up and running.

3. Create partnerships and host hiring events. Companies seeking to set up distribution centers in a new geographic region often need support in finding and recruiting new talent. Municipal partners can and should be willing to help, in turn creating good-paying jobs for their residents.

Ask your municipal partner if they would be willing to co-host a hiring event, and leverage their platforms—website, social media channels and e-newsletter—to help promote new positions. The result of these events is a win-win: residents can land jobs right in their hometown and businesses have access to local skilled labor.

As technologies and businesses continue to advance, the logistics sector has tremendous opportunities to grow. Creating a busy-friendly environment and strong partnerships between municipalities and business leaders is a win-win for all parties involved.






Visit Our Sponsors