RSC Soccer Fields – Where Dreams Begin

Posted by – Shawn Keenan, Assistant City Planner

If you’re familiar with the names Carli Lloyd, Hope Solo, Julie Johnston, and Alex Morgan you probably know one of the things they have in common is that are members of USA’s Women’s Soccer Team and winners of the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup.

Field of Dreams 1

Another thing I’m sure they had in common was that their dreams of winning a championship began on some field in or around the neighborhood they grew up in.

Field of Dreams 2

Well, if you happen to drive along Dutton Road just west of Bald Mountain Road you will see the Rochester Soccer Club’s new soccer fields and just possibly you might see someone out on the field beginning their dream of becoming a future World Cup champion.

Steel Is Going Up On Hydra-Zorb’s New Place

Posted by – Steve Cohen, Director of Community Development

We’re pleased to report that the construction of Hydra-Zorb Company’s new 51,109 sq. ft. manufacturing facility is progressing nicely.  The site is located at the northwest corner of Giddings Road and Summit Drive.

The steel frame for the building is going up

The steel frame for the building is going up

Hydra-Zorb is a non-automotive business that provides cushion clamps for pipes serving the hydraulics, machine tool, plumbing, and refrigeration industries.  The City Council approved the $5.2 million project back in April.

The facility is on track for completion by Spring 2016

The facility is on track for completion by Spring 2016

To learn more about this company and the project … click here.

Le Creuset Comes To Great Lakes Crossing Outlets

Posted by – Elizabeth Brennan, Executive Assistant

Le Creuset, a company well-known for its quality cookware and bakeware, has submitted building plans to open a new store in Great Lakes Crossing Outlets.

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The new 1,500 square foot space will house their artisan goods made of cast iron covered in porcelain enamel.  That process was originally created in Rresnoy-le-Grand, France by a casting specialist and an enameling expert in 1925.

black & whiteYou may remember the classic flame-colored Dutch Oven from your grandmother’s kitchen, but Le Creuset is still sought after today with both original and updated offerings.

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The store is scheduled to open mid-fall and will be located in District 3.

Learning How To Do “It” Better

Posted by – Stephanie Carroll, Manager of Business Development & Community Relations

I’m often asked by people … What exactly does economic development mean?  What is “it”? 

Well, in more general terms, economic development is the focus state, county, and municipal governments have on improving the standard of living of its citizens through the creation of jobs and the support of innovation and new ideas.  This intentional focus is intended to facilitate an overall better quality of life for people.

Our ability to attract, retain, and grow business in Michigan depends on many factors. We’re regularly competing with other countries and states for jobs and investment.  It’s the role of our profession to make the best business case possible to companies to encourage them to locate or invest in our respective communities.

The face of economic development is constantly changing and it’s difficult to keep up sometimes.  I have the good fortune of being on the Board of Directors for the Michigan Economic Developers Association (MEDA).  We held our annual meeting last week up in Shanty Creek and the theme of the conference was Forging Michigan’s Future.

Stephanie Carroll networking with Alan Weber from Oakland County

Stephanie Carroll networking with Alan Weber from Oakland County

This was a great opportunity to network and talk about the programs that we often use and how we can work together.  We also learned about what’s changing and how it will affect how we do our jobs.  If you’ve read the news lately, there is a lot of talk about road funding, budgets, and all things politics.

Michigan definitely has a lot of work and many challenges ahead of it, but the conference gave me an introspective look at the profession and the role we play in making our communities better.  It was an excellent experience.

Why Does Auburn Hills Offer Tax Abatements?

Posted by – Steve Cohen, Director of Community Development

It’s a very good question to ask.  A co-worker inquired last week during our session with the 2015 Auburn Hills University class if such incentives made sense and if they have hurt the City’s coffers.  The answer needs some explaining.  So, I’ll give it my best shot.

Answering “why” is important because the City has a duty to be transparent with its reasons for why it offers a benefit to one particular class of taxpayers over another.  The simple answer is that the program is a “loss leader” authorized by Michigan law.  The City Council uses tax abatements as a tool to attract and retain industrial manufacturing-based companies as we compete with other regions in North America.  The Council has largely pursued this incentive policy for the past 35 years in an effort to lower the overall tax burden for its residents by shifting that burden to businesses.

How has it helped us?  By allowing an initial 50% discount on taxes, typically for 8 to 12 years, the City increases its tax base by adding new investment (e.g., a new building on a lesser tax producing vacant piece of land or additional capital investment into an existing building).  The City also benefits by maintaining its tax base over time by increasing the value of an abated site and the properties surrounding it.  This policy has led to the successful clustering of R&D and manufacturing businesses in Auburn Hills.  This clustering has historically fed off itself creating a cycle of investment and momentum for growth.  Today, businesses pay roughly 80% of the tax burden in Auburn Hills.

A real world example of this theory in action is the redevelopment of the former Showcase Cinema site on Opdyke Road so that it could accommodate GKN and a future business.  Showcase was blighted and contributing to disinvestment in the area.  By assisting the developer repurpose the site, the City has helped stabilize the tax base in the area as GKN’s investment raised the value of the Showcase site and the properties surrounding it.  The State also allows the use of incentives like this because the people employed by companies, like GKN, create a ripple effect in the economy by spending their money locally (e.g., buying gas, eating out, going shopping, purchasing homes, and paying taxes themselves).

The blighted Showcase Cinemas was turned into a beautiful high-tech business park

The blighted Showcase Cinemas was turned into a beautiful high-tech business park

A popular saying in Auburn Hills for decades has been … “50% of something is better than 100% of nothing.”   As, one former Auburn Hills elected official used to say, “If we don’t bring development in, we’ll receive 100% of the taxes for a vacant field. But, if we bring development in and offer a 50% tax break, we’ll be collecting 50% of a building on that vacant land.”  Thus, more incremental revenue is gained with each added project.

GKN has caused an increase in property values for the Showcase site and surrounding land

GKN has caused an increase in property values for the Showcase site and surrounding land

Although it may be obvious, the key disclaimer with the logic and theory explained in this blog is that the City’s collective incentive program must not create a situation where more expenses (e.g., infrastructure improvements, police and fire calls, staff overhead, etc.) are incurred than the incremental revenue gained from added business investment.  No doubt, tax abatements are not suitable for every community and must be used wisely.  A significant level of business clustering and investment must be achieved to generate enough tax revenue to offset the expenses that come along with development.

Has it worked for us?  With the benefit of history, it’s undeniable that Auburn Hills’ incentive program facilitated the creation of an automotive R&D cluster unparalleled for a geographic area of its size in North America.  Such industrial growth has benefited all the City’s taxpayers with excellent infrastructure and services.  So, yes … we believe partnering with the business community has been a good long-term strategic investment for the City of Auburn Hills.

Interested in learning the math behind a tax abatement? – click here

While Patience Is A Virtue, We Prefer Speed And Convenience

Posted by – Elizabeth Brennan, Executive Assistant

Auburn Hills is known for our “easy as pie” project approvals and customer-friendly services, but that does not stop us from continually working to improve our customer service practices.  We are pleased to announce that Community Development application and permit fees can now be paid on-line at www.auburnhills.org.  This saves our residents and customers valuable time and money.

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The service is convenient by offering both credit card and electronic check payment options.  Credit card fees are based on a flat-rate of the total amount due while payments entered as an electronic check cost just $2.50 per transaction.

electronic check

This example was processed with a $1.00 permit fee.  The electronic check fee is only $2.50 per transaction.

So skip the trip and hop on-line to pay your application and permit fees.  If you have questions about the electronic system or would like additional information, please contact the Community Development Department at 248.364.6900.  We will be happy to walk you through the process and get you on your way.

AHU 2015: Hard Hats And Hospitality

Posted by – Steve Cohen, Director of Community Development

Tired, sore, and exhilarated.

Those are probably the three best words we can use to describe our time with the 8th class of Auburn Hills University (AHU) yesterday.  The group did a lot of walking and climbing as our staff explained how the City strives to provide radical hospitality to developers, builders, and residents while ensuring high quality construction and safety.  It was quite a day.

Builders gave the class a tour of Noah's Event Center currently under construction

Builders gave the class a tour of Noah’s Event Center currently under construction

For those not familiar with AHU, it’s an innovative team building program Auburn Hills holds annually.  It involves a small group of employees selected from across the organization.  The class meets one day a month, for six months, to learn what each Department does in an informal setting.  By getting together in this way, it helps our staff understand each other and in turn work better together.  Yesterday, it was the Community Development Department’s turn.

Below are some additional photos from our day:

Building Inspector Rick Oberlin explains how inspects a basement at Auburn Grove

Building Inspector Rick Oberlin explains how to inspect a basement at Auburn Grove

We looked at every stage of construction of Auburn Grove, located north of Shimmons Road

We looked at every stage of construction at Auburn Grove, located north of Shimmons Road

The group received a VIP tour of SEALIFE at GLC Outlets

The group received a VIP tour of SEALIFE Michigan at GLC Outlets

Met with TI Automotive, learned about their company, and toured the building under construction

Met with TI Automotive, learned about their company, and toured their building under construction

TI Automotive's new World HQ is located on Taylor Road, visible from I-75

TI Automotive’s new World HQ is located on Taylor Road, visible from I-75

Photo of the AHU class from TI Automotive's third floor patio.

Photo of the AHU class from TI Automotive’s third floor patio.

Overall, it was a fun and exhilarating day.  Can’t wait to do it again next year!