Economic investment: Communities recognized for entrepreneurial development

November 2, 2016

Six communities across the state of Michigan have been identified for the strategies they employ to foster entrepreneurial growth and economic development, according to the annual eCities study.

The study, conducted by iLabs, University of Michigan-Dearborn’s Center for Innovation Research, identified the City of Farmington Hills, City of Grand Blanc, City of Hillsdale, City of Romulus, City of Sault Ste. Marie and City of Tecumseh for their strategies, innovative programs and best practices geared toward business development.

“The eCities project highlights how local governments from across the state of Michigan are cultivating and supporting economic development. These communities show how local governments can work in distinct and strategic ways to energize public spaces, while investing in businesses and job development,” said Tim Davis, director, iLabs.

Also, an additional 40 communities are recognized as five-and four-star performers.

Five-Star Communities (*denotes best practice community)
Five-star communities have commercial constructions worth over $875 million, having issued over 2000 construction permits. They have more than $29 billion in combined real and personal properties. They have more than $21 million in additions to assets in the past year and with about 10% of the employed population being self-employed.

Ann Arbor Charter Township Cascade Charter Township Charter Township of Meridian
City of Ann Arbor City of Coldwater City of Dexter
City of Farmington City of Grandville City of Madison Heights
City of Marquette City of Midland City of Mount Pleasant
City of Novi City of Oak Park City of Romulus*
City of Sault Ste. Marie* City of Sturgis City of Wixom
Delta Charter Township Kochville Township Pittsfield Township
Plymouth Township    


Four-Star Communities (*denotes best practice community)
Four-star communities has seen over $342 million in commercial construction which account for close to 50% of the total construction value and 16% of the construction permits. Additionally, they have additions to their assets worth more than $30 million. 68% of their population is over 25 years of age and 47% have attended some college.

Bath Charter Township Charter Township of West Bloomfield City of Adrian
City of Dearborn City of Famington Hills* City of Grand Blanc*
City of Livonia City of Mason City of Mount Clemens
City of Norton Shores City of Plymouth City of Portage
City of Swartz Creek City of Tecumseh* City of Trenton
City of Ypsilanti Cornstock Charter Township Flint Charter Township
Northville Charter Township Saginaw Charter Township Thomas Township
Village of Oxford Village of Quincy  


The eCities study surveyed 76 communities from 25 counties in Michigan that are home to more than 22 percent of Michigan residents and 28 percent with at least a bachelor’s degree. These communities count for nearly one-fifth of the state’s entrepreneurs who earned more than $1.9 billion self-employed income in total. About 60 percent of these communities have a local business database, more than a quarter provide business improvement grants and more than 40 percent have full-time economic development employees.

“For the past decade, eCities research has provided data on the strategies and best practices communities are using to successfully attract and retain business,” Davis said. “We continue to share this research so that communities throughout Michigan can adapt and adopt the tools that best align with their community needs and economic development goals.” 

The communities were honored today at UM-Dearborn. Support for eCities is provided in part by the DTE Energy Foundation, Comcast, Plante Moran and UM-Dearborn’s College of Business.

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. To date, more than 200 communities across Michigan have participated in the study.


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