Four Michigan communities recognized for efforts in contributing to Michigan’s growth

November 13, 2017

The communities were identified as part of the annual eCities study, conducted by iLabs, UM-Dearborn’s Center for Innovation Research.

UM-Dearborn’s iLabs’ eCities research recognizes 184 Michigan communities developing a positive entrepreneurial climate

Four 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 cities of Dexter, Saginaw, Sturgis and Tecumseh for their successes and efforts in contributing to Michigan’s growth.

“For 10 years, the eCities project has highlighted 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.

The eCities study analyzed publicly available data from 277 communities from 54 counties in Michigan. Researchers focused on the five-year changes in property values, community assets and tax rates, which can demonstrate the growth, investments and cost of doing business within the community. For example, over the five-year period, these communities increased their capital assets by an average of 2 percent per year by purchasing public safety equipment and improving sidewalks and other infrastructure.

“While accounting for only about 15 percent of the cities and townships in Michigan, the 277 communities analyzed are home to nearly 70 percent of the population and 85 percent of the state’s commercial property,” Davis said. “By analyzing these high-performing communities, our goal is to showcase what cities and townships are doing to spur growth and how we can continue to support their efforts in developing business and encouraging entrepreneurs.”

Additionally, 37 communities answered optional, open-ended questions about their development objectives, unique community features and recent successes.

“Reviewers found that the most compelling community stories came from those who understand the importance of a diverse community and business community, recognize their unique features and can connect how those features can attract talent,” Davis said. “In many cases, these communities are able to further use their unique assets and diversity to create an environment that allows a prospective business to see why their firm could succeed there.”

The communities—as well as 183 communities named five- and four-star performers—will be recognized Tuesday, Nov. 14, during the eCities Panel Discussion, which will discuss how talent, business policy and access to capital have impacted community growth in Michigan. The panel, moderated by DBusiness Magazine and DBusiness Daily News editor R.J. King, will feature Beth Ardisana, CEO, ASG Renaissance; Antonio Luck, managing director, Endeavor Detroit; Anthony Tomczak,  chief procurement officer, DTE Energy; and Amelia Zamir, co-founder and principal of acquisitions, Method Development. The event is free, but registration through the UM-Dearborn College of Business website ( is required.

The annual eCities research project, which began in 2007, previously used data supplied by the participants. This year’s shift to reviewing publicly available data was implemented to simplify the process for communities.

“Reducing the amount of time it takes for communities to share their information may encourage more communities in be involved in this study,” Davis said, “allowing us to further understand entrepreneurial success across the state.”

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