MONDAY, DECEMBER 16, 1996 - 6:30 P.M.



Mayor ProTem Crawford called the meeting to order at 6:35 P.M.





CITY COUNCIL Mayor McLallen (arrived at 6:45), Mayor Pro Tem Crawford, Council


ROLL CALL: Members Clark, Kramer, Mitzel, Mutch, Schmid




ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT Chairman Dostal, Members Consentino, Czekaj, Jenkins CORPORATION ROLL CALL: (absent/excused), Rose, Rzepecki, Sherman, Superfisky, DeRoche



ALSO PRESENT: Director of Planning & Community Development Jim Wahl, Senior Staff Planner Greg Capote





Greg Capote advised the purpose of the meeting is to reestablish the relationship between the EDC and City Council and communicate the changes in terms of economic development initiatives in Novi. Mr. Capote said he needs to determine who the existing business customers are within the City to develop an economic development program. Mr. Capote reported he had suggested that they conduct a Business Retention Expansion Survey to find out that information. Further, the EDC could be the agency that would provide some of the resources to conduct the survey. Mr. Capote believes there has been some uncertainty about the direction of Council in terms of Economic Development initiatives and how involved they want the EDC to become? Mr. Capote explained Dan Hunter is with Oakland County Development & Planning and will serve as a resource person for tonightís meeting. He will also speak about economic development and the Business Expansion Survey.



1. Five Minute Presentation by Dan Hunter, Manager of Oakland County Development & Planning Division


Mr. Hunter gave an overview of his background and explained when he came to Oakland County, the staff had gone from a one person economic development staff to a five-person staff. Mr. Hunter explained Oakland County hired him to do what Mr. Capote is embarking on. He added they found the responses they received from more than five hundred businesses very helpful. Mr. Hunter reported part of his job is to market Oakland County to businesses from around the world and to accomplish this, he needed to know what Oakland Countyís advantages were. Mr. Hunter advised they committed to the surveys for approximately four years and then went back to the responders to ask them to respond to another survey to find out about other issues they may have. Mr. Hunter stated they needed that information so they could develop a strategy to attract business. Mr. Hunter believes the survey is an excellent information gathering tool. He added they also have a newsletter they circulate to approximately 7,000 businesses and they get feed back from that. He further stated most other communities in the county embark on these same types of retention surveys. For an example, he reported Madison Heights conducted a survey by using the school district as the manpower to interview CEOís. One issue that came to the forefront as a result of that survey was from businesses located in one section of town about their electric service reliability. Detroit Edison discovered this section was serviced by the Macomb County office instead of Royal Oak or Southfield. In response, Edison took the information and designed a program to boost the service. Mr. Hunter believes the idea behind doing a survey at least once is to determine a communityís strengths and weaknesses. He then distributed a sampling of surveys conducted by other communities.





Councilwoman Mutch asked in what ways has the EDC worked in other communities that they might model in Novi to accomplish their task? Mr. Hunter replied most EDCís have been inactive. However, those that have been active have gotten involved in terms of putting together marketing publications for demographics or they have taken specific issues that might not typically be considered for an EDC. Mr. Hunter advised Farmington Hills and Southfield have the most advanced EDCís. Southfieldís EDC has served as the initial buffer for any tax abatement requests and he believes Farmington Hills has served the same task. The traditional role of the EDC according to Michigan state law would be to act as the finance director for manufacturing type projects.


Councilwoman Mutch asked for a description of the difference between an EDC that functions in a less traditional way and a Chamber of Commerce. Mr. Hunter believes EDCís are closer aligned with the direction of the community and the municipality itself.


Councilwoman Mutch asked if they envision the EDC deciding what they want to put their group effort behind? Mr. Hunter replied they will serve in an advisory capacity and to bring forward ideas of issues and concerns.


Councilwoman Mutch asked if the EDC works on behalf of the city as opposed to the Chamber working on behalf of organizations? Mr. Hunter replied that is correct.


Councilman Schmid asked for a clarification of the work done by the EDC. Mr. Dostal replied over the years the EDC has been a bonding issue. However, over the last few years they have taken a different posture and gone out of the typical with the guidance of Council. Mr. Dostal advised they have requested that Council give them the guidelines about what territories they can venture into with the understanding they would stay within the scope of the framework. Consequently, the EDC became involved in Main Street. He further advised they have ventured into some other areas and they could be more adventurous with some additional guidance and direction. Because Council has not given the EDC too much direction, they went out on their own. Mr. Dostal reminded Council they had hired a consultant and did some investigation on their own. From that they learned, they could jump from a frying pan onto a burner very quickly. Mr. Dostal explained the survey came before the EDC twice and with staff, they decided to ask for a meeting with Council to clarify what Councilís support and financial support is.


Mayor McLallen believes the first step is identifying who the proponents within the community are. Further, Mayor McLallen advised Council need to know the limits on the funding the EDC has and asked for ways they can generate further funding. Mr. Dostal said they have approximately $50,000, but the race car is part of those assets. Consequently, what they really have is approximately $22,000.


Mr. Capote believes he has previously informed Council that the Business Retention and Expansion Survey is not going to be a cost to the City given it is sponsored by the utility consortium who will supply the consultant. The issue before Council is the people power and whether the EDC can be a part of the effort to visit companies within the community to help compile the information to conduct the survey.


Mayor McLallen asked what type of manpower is necessary to achieve this? Mr. Capote replied there are two phases of the survey. The first is a mail-in and from the respondents, a targeted group of that group is selected to be interviewed based upon the people to conduct interviews. Further, Mr. Capote has mentioned to the Chamber a need for other volunteers for this effort because he does not believe the EDC has enough people power in itself. Mr. Capote suggested that he, EDC members, perhaps six people from the Chamber, one Council Member and a couple of Planning Commissioners could supply enough manpower for this effort. Mr. Capote believes the survey would take approximately three months to complete.


Mr. Czekaj stated the point in question is that they would like to be the vehicle at Councilís disposal to undertake a business retention passport. He believes the EDC is looking for Council to treat them as a passport for the pool, the ice rink and be willing to assign them as a body who would be willing to listen to whatever might be said. Further, the EDC believes Council could give them the necessary funding to make commitments to say the City of Novi needs to undertake certain proposed endeavors. Mr. Czekaj added the EDC is currently sitting dead in the water from a financing standpoint and they would like to do this, but they would like some autonomy and authority to do this properly. The EDC would like the same kind of time and consideration the Pool Committee or Ice Rink Committee has from City Council.


Mayor McLallen does not believe Council and the EDC are on different tracks and getting to know the businesses is a first step. However, where that goes has not been discussed yet. Mayor McLallen believes the issue is how does the survey fit in the larger scheme of things.


Mr. Capote believes the results of the survey would help address why Novi is losing businesses to other cities. Further, most everyone that he has spoken with asked what are Noviís core industries. Not knowing more than what it says in the Master Plan on one page, which states they are heavily based for retail, Mr. Capote does not know anything about the core cluster industries that exist. Consequently, he is unable to target any other industries to help bring them to Novi. As a beginning point to any Economic Development Program, they first need to know who exists in the community and the survey would be one mechanism to determine that.


Mayor McLallen believes that although some EDC members may want to participate, she is hearing that Mr. Capote as the Economic Development chief can handle it on his own. She believes she is also hearing that the EDC would like to have an EDC program from Council.


Mr. Dostal reported that the EDC has to stay intact until the last bond expires. Based on that, there is a lot of surface discussion and with the means they have available, a survey could be accomplished for a limited cost. The EDC has talked about going outside that boundary and to do so, there are additional costs. The question is, how many more elements do they want to add to the survey and to what cost? Some additions would be to ask whether the schools or the Chamber of Commerce would want to be a part of it.


Councilwoman Mutch believes the EDC members who have spoken have expressed a willingness to be involved in a more creative and dynamic way. She believes staff needs to know if Council is committed to doing a survey as they described and if Council is willing to offer financial support if it moves beyond what Edison will sponsor.


Councilman Mitzel does not believe he has heard anyone disagree to the fact that the EDC and the City should be more proactive in doing some sort of learning about the business community. He agrees with Ms. Rzepecki that they need a road map among themselves or they will all become frustrated. He further believes the specifics of the survey would be a step ahead of where they are. He believes they should first develop the EDCís role, how that will work with the Planning Department and how Council will buy into that. He stated Council can give verbal direction by supporting a more proactive role, but he does not know if they can give any formal buy in to any program because he does not think one truly exists in a format that can be presented. He thinks the EDC needs to work with the Administration to develop their goals and how they can accomplish it needs to be presented to Council for a formal buy in.


Mr. Czekaj reported Dennis Neiman attended one of their meetings in June to discuss what the EDCís limitations were. As an EDC, Mr. Czekaj advised they could have undertaken the survey under their own accord. Their problem was what would the survey accomplish and who would listen. Consequently, Mr. Czekaj stated they asked Mr. Capote to ask for Council support.


Councilman Kramer agrees with Councilman Mitzel and believes there is a foundation of similar concerns from different perspectives. He believes the groups need to find a common ground and work together.


Councilman Clark believes the survey is a good starting point to achieve their objectives. Further, if they are going to survey the businesses they should ask them what was it that attracted them to Novi and what is it that keeps them there.


Mayor McLallen would not like to adjourn the meeting until they have a direction and she asked if the EDC could come back within thirty days because it appears that both sides are looking for a program. Further, there is Council support to have the EDC step forward to play a more significant role in the community. However, the EDC would like to hear what Council feels is their responsibility in the economicís future as they target the survey for being a component of their role. In addition, she asked what kind of resources will the EDC need to accomplish their task?


Councilman Schmid believes the EDC could function as a group and come up with some ideas about how they could attract business to Novi.


Mr. Dostal advised the EDC will be meeting on a more regular basis so they can better relate to Council and Planning.


Councilwoman Mutch believes they also need to clarify what the staffís support is to assist the EDC.


Councilman Mitzel said because of Councilís meeting schedule in January, meeting with the EDC in January will not be possible.






There being no further business before City Council, the meeting was adjourned at 7:35 P.M.









Mayor City Clerk



Transcribed by Barbara Holmes


Date Approved: January 13, 1997