Saturday, July 6th 2013

Holly’s Economic Development Task Force seeks support

Written by Amy Mayhew
Wednesday, February 10 2010

Ryan Bladzik

HOLLY, Michigan – Suzanne Perreault, former director for Holly’s Downtown Development Authority, always thought a full-blown, professional market research survey was the next logical step for the village to take in luring prospective developers and businesses into the community. With an estimated price tag of $15,000, it never happened.

In September, the Holly Area Economic Development Task Force was born – a group of concerned area citizens from throughout the community, interested in identifying ways to help spur economic development not only in the village, but also in the township.

Charged with leading the group is Holly Township Trustee Janet Leslie, who over the course of just five months, has managed to enlist the help of resident Ryan Bladzik, Owner/Principal of Great Lakes Creative Marketing and Communications.

Seeing a real need in the community, last fall, Bladzik offered the services of his company at cost.

“The good news is that we’re not here to ask you for money, and there is no bad news because we just want to show you what we’ve done so far and also to ask for your support for an exciting project that we’re in the midst of working on right now,” Leslie told Holly Village Council members on Tuesday.

With the primary mission of developing a long-term vision for the Holly community, Leslie said the EDTF hopes learn what the community will look like over the next two decades.

“The 20 or so people that came to the initial meeting probably could have sat around and written beautiful vision for the community, but it wouldn’t have had any teeth because it would have been our opinions,” Leslie said.  “We felt it was necessary to gain as much input from the community as possible, and also to have the support and endorsement of the councils, boards and commissions in the community.”

To date, the group has taken part in visioning exercises, conducted a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) analysis, and held two focus groups aimed in gaining qualitative input on what people think the community is all about, what direction they would like to see the community go in the future.

Bladzik said after attending a few EDTF meetings as a concerned resident, he began to realize that before any action could be taken by the group, more information was needed. “No business or organization would ‘shoot in the dark’ on figuring out which way to go and what to do without weighing all the different possibilities there are, without getting input, or without analyzing the situation,” he said.

On Jan. 16, Bladzik conducted two focus groups – one consisting of average residents from both the village and the township, and the other, a group consisting of community leaders and public officials.

“Some of the participants in the resident group were long term residents and others were newcomers,” Bladzik said. “Some were old, some were young – it was really a well-balanced group that gave their perspectives on a variety of things about the community – good and bad things, challenges, downfalls, perceptions and misperceptions.

“The second focus group was the people who are more involved in the community,” he said. “Village Council, Township Board, Holly Chamber of Commerce, business owners, developers, festival coordinators and school board members.”

After both focus group sessions, Bladzik compared and contrasted the data and feedback from the two groups, and discovered some very interesting similarities and differences.

“Everybody agrees that they like the small town America appeal that Holly offers,” he said. “They like the slower pace, the rural community – knowing who your neighbors are without the growth or busy atmosphere of a city.” Additionally, Bladzik said that there was a general consensus that community involvement and community spirit are somewhat low.

“The interesting thing is that each group defined the term, ‘community involvement’ differently,” he said. “The residents didn’t feel that they were either aware of or there were ample opportunities to get involved – whether it be activities to participate in or for their kids to participate in, whereas the leadership group really looked at it from a more practical or pragmatic point of view – that there aren’t enough volunteers for everything that we need to do.”

With the data collected from both groups, Bladzik developed a 37-question marketing survey with over 200 data points covering the categories of demographics and employment, consumer habits, dining habits, opinions and attitudes, lifestyle information, media and information, and activities and hobbies.

Bladzik said the EDTF would like to mail the survey out to 2,000 randomly selected households in the Holly Area School District with prepaid first class return envelopes. By including prepaid return envelopes, Bladzik says the group hopes to get at least 400 surveys sent back.

Leslie said the Holly Area Chamber of Commerce has offered the EDTF the use of a copier machine to keep printing costs at a minimum. Leslie said she and Bladzik attended Monday's Holly DDA Board of Directors meeting, asking members to consider contributing $1,700 toward postage costs for the surveys. Needing more time to think over the issue, the DDA tabled the issue until next month.

“Is the township going to pay for any of this, or is it all out of the DDA?” Councilwoman Pauline Kenner asked.

Out of consideration for budget concerns, Leslie said the EDTF opted to ask the DDA for the funds. “The DDA, we felt, stands to benefit the most,” she said.

On Wednesday, Holly Township Clerk Karin Winchester confirmed that Holly Township also contributes financially to the DDA, last year capturing a combined total of $22,877.42 in Tax Increment Financing Act funds for the DDA from the township itself, the township library and the township parks.

“What do you intend to do with this survey?” Councilwoman Reisa Hamilton asked. “I know you have wonderful intentions, but if we’re going to spend $1,700 on a survey, quite frankly, I feel like it’s still my money and I’d like to know that it’s going to come to some good use.”

Should the surveys go out, Leslie said the resulting data would be made available to the public. “It will be information that the DDA Director will have in hand to present to anybody considering locating a business to Holly, or will be information that all of our business owners can use to look for opportunities in growing their business,” she said.

“I feel the survey is a golden opportunity to get input from the grass root people here – the 10,000 residents – I know you’re only going for 2,000,” resident Larry Lilly said. “But I think this would benefit all of us because we’ve never had a survey here to get the input from  people about what they really want, and it’s not going to cost much to get it.”

Hamilton made the motion to table the matter until the DDA has had the opportunity to remove the issue from the table and make a decision about the $1,700 request for funding.

The DDA Board of Directors is expected to discuss the matter at their upcoming March 8 meeting, and Village Council will revisit the issue when they convene on March 9.


#1 Peter Clemens 1999-11-29 20:00
I just checked with Ms. Perreault and no application was ever received by the Village or the DDA for a liquor license from that restaurant. Perhaps the owners are confused about the circumstances and misspoke.
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#2 Janet Leslie 1999-11-29 20:00
I know, only from hearing the former DDA director talking about it in meetings of the village council and the Chamber of Commerce, that there are $20,000 liquor licenses available through the DDA to restaurants within the DDA district, which El Potrero was. I believe that the stipulation for getting one is that the applicant must agree to put a certain amount of money into renovating the building in which the business is located. Given that the incoming tenants are renovating the exterior, I would imagine that the landlord would not have objected had El Potrero done the same.

Now, I am not aware of the owners of El Potrero being Chamber members or attending Chamber meetings or being active in the DDA, but if they were they might have been informed of those licenses. Perhaps they did know about them but simply didn't qualify.

At any rate, if the village finds a way to hire a DDA director again, I would hope that informing business owners of opportunities like that would be a priority. I wonder, if there is no DDA director, who will be responsible for making sure our local businesses have the tools they need to survive?
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#3 JS 1999-11-29 20:00
I have been a big fan of supporting local business whenever I can and tried to do so last night. We just got back into town from Spring Break and wanted to get dinner from our favorite local Mexican restaurant, El Potrero. Much to our dismay, not only is that amazing little restaurant closed, there is no notification of where they have gone or why. Using my super sluething capabilities, we found them at their original location up on Fenton and Hill Roads in Flint. Our usual restaurant employees were there and we were thrilled to be able to get our favorite dinners from them. What a beautiful and bustling restaurant they have at this location. What a great business this would have been to keep in Holly.

They left Holly to make room for (yet another) Pizza place going in at the empty strip mall across from Holly Foods. They indicated they had tried for several years to get a liquor license to grow their business but to no avail. They simply could not stay in the area because they could not compete with other local businesses that do have licenses and they could not stay where they were due to a new tenant wanting their space. They are now looking for something in Fenton where the liquor licenses are apparently easier to obtain. While I dont claim to know all the details of the situation that led them to pull out of our community, I feel such a loss for all of us that this small business is gone.

What a missed opportunity for Holly. This is exactly the type of business we need in this area. Small, family run, interested in growing with our community. The fact that the landlord would rather have yet another pizza place in their otherwise empty plaza speaks volumes to what we all fear - that our community is dying and cannot even support our current restaurants. That this small business could not get a liquor license (I dont know the process but really, why make it so difficult on new businesses?) so they could compete with other establishments is tragic.

I will now drive to Flint to get my mexican fix but sure enjoyed the convenience of having this outstanding business in our little town. It seems to me we are fighting a losing battle and it is so frustrating to see all the bickering about surveys when we let the gems we have fade into oblivion without even a blip on the radar...
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#4 Janet Leslie 1999-11-29 20:00
As a reminder to those interested in the market research survey, the DDA board will likely consider the matter today, Monday March 8, at their meeting in Council Chambers at 5:30pm. The Village Council will likely consider whether or not to give the survey a vote of support at their regular meeting tomorrow in Council Chambers at 7pm.

Changes have been made based in part on the recommendations of those groups, and a revised copy of the survey was provided to Village Manager Marsha Powers last week to distribute to the DDA Board and to the Village Council prior to their deliberations.
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#5 Jason Hughes 1999-11-29 20:00
I guess some people are satisfied with the current condition of Holly and where the community is heading...

I am not sure how flower pots "enable an economically prosperous future" compared to this survey but it seems that some people on the DDA board have lost site of the DDA's mission statement.
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#6 Fred Hopper 1999-11-29 20:00
Wow, I really like all of the ideas that are flying around. Kind of proves to me that the Holly Residents, Village and Township, are so ready for some changes.

About the idea of a specialty store, I wonder if a Market Survey would tell us if there was enough support in the community for such an entity to be economically viable?

Wonder what such a survey would cost?

Lets see, 10,000 residents, $1700. Incredible $0.17 per resident to find out if various enterprises could survive economically in Holly. Seems like a good idea to me. And a great idea for anyone even considering opening a business in town.
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#7 Katy Hughes 1999-11-29 20:00
Goodman - I'll second your suggestion on having a "Colasanti's North" or something like it in Holly. Having a market in town with a butcher on staff selling locally raised beef, pork, lamb, chicken, etc. would be a useful addition to our community.
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#8 Ryan 1999-11-29 20:00
The kinds of suggestions that Goodman and Katy are making seem to be exactly what Holly is missing. If the sentiment that the "Small Town America" aspect of Holly is what's most appealing, and mega-box development isn't necessarily desired, then businesses like butchers, bakers, gourmet food and epicurean stores, a full-time seasonal farmer's market with local and regional produce seem to fit that bill. If local restaurants also bought from these types of vendors, then they have the added pitch of not just home-cooked, but home-grown as well.

This kind of vision doesn't preclude some chain stores and restaurants from being welcome. I'd gladly welcome a Panchero's or Jimmy Johns, as long as they aren't what "define" Holly commerce.
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#9 Janet Leslie 1999-11-29 20:00
I've also wondered if a gourmet marketplace like Colasanti's, Pappa Joe's, or Nino Salvaggio's would be supported here. It seems every other town in Oakland County has at least one. Questions regarding specialty grocery shopping habits are on the market research survey, and I'm looking forward to finding out if Holly area shoppers are going out of town to buy those types of groceries.
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#10 Goodman 1999-11-29 20:00
A real estate agent once said that the old dealership can never be demolished due to an underground gas line. Does anyone know if this is true? This spot would be a prime location for something beneficial to the community. Could be anything, but a market like Colasanti's in Highland would be perfect in my view.
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#11 Peter Clemens 1999-11-29 20:00

The best way to ensure that everyone moves full steam ahead in a common direction on business development is by voting the entrenched obstructionists out of office. Short of that Iââà¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…¡Ã‚¬Ã¢à ƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…¾Ã‚¢m afraid that comprehensive business development will move along at the snails pace that it always has. As for midtown development the Village is currently working with some of the owners of midtown property in order to compel them to either demolish or improve their existing sites. Recently the Village acquired a parcel on Saginaw Street that came back to us for taxes. It is our goal to clean up this property and neighbouring properties (if the owners will agree) using funds from the âââ €šÂ¬Ã†¦ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…“Brownfield Redevelopment Financing Actââà ƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…¡Ã‚¬Ãâ⠂¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚. I guess my view is that I would rather have an empty field ready for new development, than a boarded up building located on the main drag through town. Unfortunately having to deal with Federal âââ €šÂ¬Ã†¦ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…“red tapeââ ‚¬Ãâ €šÃ‚, takes a frustrating amount of time. On a brighter note though a developer has recently submitted site plans for a proposed brewery/tap room to the Village Planning Commission. The building is to be located on the corner of Seminole and Saginaw across from Ganshaw Park.
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#12 Darrin 1999-11-29 20:00
Pete âââ €šÂ¬Ã¢Ã ¢â€šÂ¬Ã…“ Not speaking for Kim, Iââà¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…¡Ã‚¬Ã¢à ƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…¾Ã‚¢d like to thank you for providing your thoughts on this topic; I strongly feel your vision is one that we can all get behind and support. Iââà¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…¡Ã‚¬Ã¢à ƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…¾Ã‚¢m also glad to see discussion on this thread end on a positive, forward-looking note; I was hoping that our tangent last week didnââ ‚¬Ã ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¾Ã‚¢t take away from the thoughts and ideas provided by many as a whole.

A couple follow-up questions Iââà¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…¡Ã‚¬Ã¢à ƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…¾Ã‚¢d like to ask are 1) Assuming a general consensus is reached from the survey regarding a vision for business development, how will can we try to ensure that all parties move âââ €šÂ¬Ã†¹Ãƒâ€¦Ã¢â‚¬Å“full steam aheadâà¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…¡Ã‚¬Ãà ‚¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¾Ã‚¢? in a common direct? âââ €šÂ¬Ã ¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚¦and 2) You mentioned downtown and uptown development, but have you see any opportunities âââ €šÂ¬Ã†¹Ãƒâ€¦Ã¢â‚¬Å“midtownÃà ƒâ€šÃ‚¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å ¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚¬ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬à …¾Ã‚¢? I donââà ƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…¡Ã‚¬Ã ¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…¾Ã‚¢t consider it a priority vs. the other two, but I know many envision Saginaw St. being a beautiful, inviting corridor welcoming folks from the downtown to uptown, or vice versa. But to me, one of the challengesâà ƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚¬ â€Â especially as it relates to this areaââ ‚¬Ã ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚is evolving and growing in the midst of many buildings, structures, and livelihoods that have taken shape for the better part of the last century. There are obviously a lot of commercial/industrial lots along this stretch, but I also think there are many opportunities to better take advantage of it. Iââà¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…¡Ã‚¬Ã¢à ƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…¾Ã‚¢d just be curious if you have any thoughts on this topic.
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#13 Peter Clemens 1999-11-29 20:00
Alright Kim here goes; I would use the data that the survey generates to target specific type of businesses that would stand the best chance of making a go of it here in Holly. When people compare Holly to other local downtowns like Milford, Clarkston, Lake Orion, Fenton or Oxford, I am reminded that each of those communities are located on a main thoroughfare, Downtown Holly is not. Therefore the trick with Holly is to have something inviting or compelling enough to bring people off the beaten path and into our downtown community. Niche restaurants like the French Laundry or Clarkston Union therefore interest me the most. The Holly Hotel does a pretty good job of bringing people in to town but the have very few home grown customers. As a board member on the DDA I support both uptown and downtown growth as does Mrs. Powers. I believe that her comments were specific to the downtown area and more specifically to the Village Office building. What Mrs. Powers meant is that the types of chain restaurants like Ruby Tuesdays or Panera that can be found in Fenton will not provide the drawing power to bring people into the downtown area and therefore will not be successful in Holly. I believe that the survey can also generate information that could be beneficial to existing businesses that may wish to expand or diversify their current operations to provide a more targeted inventory to increase sales. I believe that the future DDA director will be able to glean information from this survey to help target business development in both the uptown and downtown areas throughout the DDA district. And lastly I believe that not correcting disinformation that is spread on this blog and in other venues is counter productive to the common good. After all how can you move forward until stop moving backwards?
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#14 Peter Clemens 1999-11-29 20:00
Kim, I'll get to it soon, I've been busy at work and with the exception of an emergency my day job takes precedence over my night job.
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#15 Kim 1999-11-29 20:00
Pete, we're still waiting for your answers. Are you ignoring the questions or is there no impetus for you to contribute without someone to lecture?
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#16 Cathy 1999-11-29 20:00

I think the website you recommended says it all.

You say little but you speak volumes.

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#17 Darrin 1999-11-29 20:00
Janet, we totally agree. Baseless innuendo is counter-productive. Thank goodness what I said wasn't baseless. ;-)
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#18 Kim 1999-11-29 20:00
Pete, why do you just come out here to snipe at people? You are a leader, are you not?? Tell us YOUR thoughts about this survey. Why would YOU do with the data it generates?? What will YOU do to support the alignment of residents' goals and those of downtown merchants?? What's YOUR vision for Holly?? Do YOU agree w/ Marsha Powers' comments about Fenton?? We know you take pride in being the truth police (and bat about .750 in my scorebook), but you should stop worrying about Big Tony's and be a part of the solution!!
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#19 Janet Leslie 1999-11-29 20:00
Opinions are productive. They inspire thought, and sometimes action. But baseless innuendo is counterproductive. It inspires only mistrust and misunderstanding.

There are so many people, including Darrin and others who comment here, trying to get this community on the right track. Let's not spoil the efforts by planting seeds of suspicion. If someone does something with which you disagree, say who did it and why you believe it was wrong. Making vague accusations doesn't solve anything, because none of us can act upon them.
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#20 Peter Clemens 1999-11-29 20:00

Im not insulted, I just take exception to you spinning out "versions of the truth" and adding second hand hearsay just to make the Village and Village officials look bad. As if we need your help.
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#21 Goodman 1999-11-29 20:00
Quite frankly, the scenario laid out by Darrin is something Iââà¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…¡Ã‚¬Ã¢à ƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…¾Ã‚¢ve heard a few times before, mostly in neighborhood conversation. Hard to fault him for that. Everyoneâà ¢â€šÂ¬Ã ƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¾Ã‚¢ s entitled to their opinions, and if Peteââ ‚¬Ã ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¾Ã‚¢s version of the story has any truth to it, this should have been nipped in the bud the first five times someone brought it up on these forums.
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#22 Janet Leslie 1999-11-29 20:00
The Holly Area Chamber of Commerce was the first to volunteer a contribution to the distribution of the survey. They generously offered the EDTF the use of their copier machine to eliminate the need to pay for printing. The DDA was asked to pay for the cost of mailing for two reasons. One, Village President Pete Clemens suggested that the absence of a DDA director provided an unusual cushion in the DDA budget, and two, as the DDA is funded by a tax capture of properties within the district, both the Village of Holly and Holly Township have properties that pay into the DDA and are served by the DDA. It was thought that, in these times of shrinking budgets, it would not be feasible to ask the Village and Township for contributions from their general funds.

But, as Ryan Bladzik said last night in his presentation to the Holly Township Board of Trustees, it doesn't matter to the EDTF where the money comes from, as long as we get the survey out and are able to share the results with the community at large.

And here's some good news...the township board voted unanimous approval for the survey.
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#23 Darrin 1999-11-29 20:00
If I could add one more point about a potential survey, I personally feel that it shouldnâÃà ‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…Â¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â¬ÃƒÆ ’¢â€žÂ¢t be funded by just one party. Those parties who are most likely to reap the benefits should participate in the cost for one primary reason: If you have âââ €šÂ¬Ã†¦ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…“skin in the gameââ ‚¬Ãâ €šÃ‚, you are more likely to take ownership and put the results to good use to leverage the investment. We want all entities to buy in and apply the results in a way that benefits Holly as a whole, rather than potentially only serve the best interests of a single party (not due to ill intentions, just a natural possibility when one party fully funds something). This approach would also spread out the cost, and while it might take a little more effort to gain buy-in from multiple entitiesâà ¢â€šÂ¬Ã ƒâ€šÃ‚¦the way I look at itââà ¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚¬Ãâ₠¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚¦this is just the start of the kind of collaboration that is needed to pave the way to success.
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#24 Janet Leslie 1999-11-29 20:00
False rumors are no joke. They are damaging and counterproductive. They contribute to the negative perceptions of Holly that we all agree we want to fight against. If someone does something with which you disagree, by all means, call them out. But please don't hint at transgressions that never occurred.
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#25 Darrin 1999-11-29 20:00
Janet, overall this has been a very positive, forward-looking discussion, and I politely ask that you keep it that way. There are no false rumors, merely varying perspectives on the matter and sides to the story. Your âââ €šÂ¬Ã†¦ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…“officialÃà †â€™Ãƒâ€šÃ‚¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚ ¬Å¡Ã‚¬Ã‚ƚ stance regarding the matter at hand is appreciated, but the lecturing tones of your recent posts and two-cent comments are not. Hopefully such tangents can be pushed aside so we donââà ƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…¡Ã‚¬Ã ¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…¾Ã‚¢t neglect the rich dialogue that has taken place.
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#26 Darrin 1999-11-29 20:00
Janet, thanks for your advice. Your commitment to assigning blame around every corner is something I just haven't gotten up to speed with, but with hard work, perseverance, and some good ole finger pointing, I hope to emerge from being just a mere "frustrated gossip columnist" and make you proud some day.

And Pete, I'm also sorry you're easily insulted. I solely blame you for this disposition.

That being said, Carol said it best. The passion shown on this forum has been inspiring. I think we've learned:

1) Financial support for a drastically-discounted survey is a no-brainer given the ROI, and impacted stakeholders should jump at the chance to support it (you could equate it to someone offering you a dozen paczkis for the price of one, only the benefits last much longer than a 1-hour sugar buzz)

2) Fenton might not be as evil as some have assumed, but confirmation is needed (see item 1)

3) Many are proud of what Holly is today and are even prouder of what it can become
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#27 Carol 1999-11-29 20:00
My previous comment about existing merchants should be looked at as a positive. How can we ask anyone to change without the proper tools in place to assist them?

Can you imagine offering current business owners data compiled that pertains specifically to their business! How exciting it would be to show them a document that outlines how they could possibly increase revenue by making simple changes.

Imagine new business coming into the community that caters to the needs of the residents, transients, and consumers. How wonderful!

And finally in defence of the merchants in this community, has anyone sat down with them? A simple one on one conversation asking them about their respective business, not as a group but one on one. Why are they not open evenings? What type of market research could help them grow?

I am happy to see so many people passionate about this topic. It means that this community means somthing to them. This survey is the first step to obtaining information that should have been done with the Main Street program came to Holly. This project will be a long term process and key to making Holly a better place to live, work, and visit.
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#28 Peter Clemens 1999-11-29 20:00

What local take out business are you talking about? If it's the one I'm thinking about, they were forced to give up because building renovations to meet state and federal codes were simply too expensive. Handicap accessible bathrooms and Proper Venting have nothing to do with the Village other than the fact that we have to enforce said codes. The notion that Village officials were influenced by competing businesses to make it tough on these people is absolutely false and rather insulting.
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#29 Janet Leslie 1999-11-29 20:00
Darrin, I'm getting the feeling you're a frustrated gossip columnist. It really isn't necessary to protect anyone's identity since most of what you're describing takes place in full public view.

I'm guessing the "local takeout establishment" you're referring to is Big Tony's. Owner Tony Kline had hoped to move into a larger location on Saginaw. You would have to ask Mr. Kline himself why he ultimately gave up on that project, but there were some misunderstandings regarding what was required by law to bring the space into conformity as a restaurant, and these seemed to be cleared up when Mr. Kline brought his concerns to the Village Council. But, far from encountering resistance from other business owners, when Mr. Kline made his case, Council Chambers was filled with fellow Chamber of Commerce members (including myself)there to show support for his goals. All of this was reported by local media.

On the other hand, it is true that the owner of the Wendy's on Grange Hall Road is threatening to sue the Village of Holly if a Taco Bell is allowed to go into the adjacent property. Taco Bell came before the Village Zoning Board of Appeals to ask for an extension on the site plan approved last year, and Wendy's showed up to say that this violates a contract Wendy's had with the seller of the property. I don't know how that justifies threatening to sue the village, but before you blame some nameless "leader" for blocking Taco Bell, you should know that the village is not standing the way. And although Wendy's may be attempting to stand in the way, Taco Bell hasn't broken ground yet because of their own business priorities, not because of hassle or politics.

We're obviously on the same side here, Darrin, that is, the side of progress. Nevertheless, it frustrates me when you and others use nebulous accusations to prove your points. There's plenty of real blame to go around.
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#30 Cathy 1999-11-29 20:00
Okay, maybe I took Janet's remarks about the store's not being open a little too personal. Obviously, it is a major problem with the inconsistency of hours in this town. One thing that is consistant is the complaints from customers regarding hours. At the very least we can do is put our hours on the door and abide by them. I think we are realizing that we can only do so much to combat this problem. It's to my understanding that some towns have ordinances stating merchants keep certain hours. We don't want to do that as it would really alienate us all. Leading by example seems to be the only resolve. Let's move on from this complaint and welcome any ideas that can bring us all together to make Holly the most desirable quaint town to live, visit & shop. Keep stirring the pot Janet, your articles and comments definately motivate us to get involved.
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#31 Darrin 1999-11-29 20:00
There is little doubt that the goals of downtown merchants and residents/visitors are not aligned. If they were, every merchant would be open on Sunday. And to some extent, you canââà ƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…¡Ã‚¬Ã ¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…¾Ã‚¢t blame themââ ‚¬Ã ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚they want to enjoy their weekends like everyone else and itââà ¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚¬Ã¢ „¢s their prerogative as the owner. The problem is, any successful business assumes a certain responsibility to build its operations around customer needs, wants, and desiresâÃà ‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…Â¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â¬ÃƒÆ ’‚¦but it just doesnâà¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…¡Ã‚¬Ãà ‚¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¾Ã‚¢t happen. (As a side note, if everyone needs a day off, why donââà ƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…¡Ã‚¬Ã ¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…¾Ã‚¢t they just make it Monday or something?).

And this lack of goal alignment goes well beyond operating hours. Some are directly opposed to some forms of growth due to increased competition. Nevermind the fact that increasing the total level of offerings will attract more folks to Holly as a whole; but some just look at it through a very narrow window. Recently, when a local takeout establishment wanted to expand and relocate into the heart of the Village, it was forced to give up due to the endless hassle and politics involved. And Iââà¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…¡Ã‚¬Ã¢à ƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…¾Ã‚¢m sure part of the politics stemmed from the existence of one or two other nearby establishments that have been planted here for years and really didnÃÂ��‚¢ÃƒÂ¢ ‚¬Ã ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¾Ã‚¢t want the competition. Itââà ¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚¬Ã¢ „¢s a shame that not even a local business could grow here in Holly.

Ultimately, we need to understand that a high tide floats all boatsâà¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…¡Ã‚¬Ãà ¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚¦ Whatââ ‚¬Ã ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¾Ã‚¢s good for visitors and residents is good for business and good for Holly. With a cohesive plan, we can build a long-term model where you canââà ƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…¡Ã‚¬Ã ¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…¾Ã‚¢t afford NOT to be open on Sundays. âââ €šÂ¬Ã ¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚¦and where you canââà ƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…¡Ã‚¬Ã ¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…¾Ã‚¢t afford NOT to want other businesses to help enhance what our community has to offer. The lifestyles of residents will be greatly enhanced and more dollars will be brought in to support the community and local economy in more ways than can meet the eye.
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#32 Janet Leslie 1999-11-29 20:00
I must apologize to Cathy of My Sweet Holly for not visiting during Lovestruck. Unfortunately, like the average consumer, I took a few minutes to glance around, heard no music, saw no shoppers, noted that The Holly Candle Shoppe's beautiful "open" sign was on the sidewalk, and moved on. I'm sorry I didn't realize you were open. I do appreciate that you always give us something attractive to look at in your window, whether you are open or not. I especially appreciate that when I am waiting at the light at Saginaw and Maple--it helps me avoid looking at the storage building across the street!
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#33 Janet Leslie 1999-11-29 20:00
These last few comments, from Carol, Goodman, Andy, and Darlene reveal a significant threat to the success of the market research survey, and to any effort at development. What if the business owners themselves do not desire development?

The majority of residents I have spoken to over the past two or three years are rabidly in favor of economic development, and the lack of it is one of their biggest disappointments with community leadership. When I read Carol's statement, "I have always felt that if anyone wants to change the existing merchants they are going down the wrong road. The existing merchants are doing what they feel is right for them," a frightening thought crossed my mind. What if the desires of residents and merchants are opposed? While we know that residents want a place to go on a Friday after work to do some shopping and dining, and that they wish downtown Holly better satisfied those desires, what if what downtown merchants want is to do business in a town so quiet they can close up at 4pm on a Friday to go home and start dinner? What if the mid-priced bar and grill residents so desperately want downtown would cause grief for downtown merchants who do not want to feel obligated to respond to increased evening foot-traffic? What if the only increase in sales downtown merchants desire is an increase that occurs between 11am and 4pm, Tuesday through Saturday? If this is so, then it's no wonder the merchants don't want to hear it when residents try to explain to them that their business (and therefore, the community) would grow if only they would keep longer and more consistent hours. If their goals are not to increase business, but rather to maximize their time at home, we are talking to nothing more than the historic brick walls that shelter their shops.

I would assume that those who have accepted positions on the DDA board would be fervent about seeking opportunities for development, as after all, the purpose of the board is DOWNTOWN DEVELOPMENT. So these should be the people most likely to support longer, consistent hours, and to support the accumulation of data that could lead to new businesses coming into the area, even those whose presence may compel them to respond to the demands of an increasing market.

But what if they are not?
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#34 Darlene 1999-11-29 20:00
I tried to push my way through the crowd during the Lovestruck festival -- there were so many valentines walking hand in hand -- not.
Honestly, it was just another Holly weekend. That merchants' group website promised a whole lot more than I witnessed. How is it that these "events" get planned and only a couple of stalwart shopkeepers stick to the plan? They are trying to realize a goal - when the team effort drops around them. And yes - suppose you're not interested in antiques or trinkets? Have we developed a feminized main street? Well, maybe if there were a couple more men around to jump in and put out - the landscape could evolve. It seems that all the testosterone disappears when the hardware store and the lumberyard close for the day!
That old car dealership would be a great location for a pub. What ever happened to the downtown steakhouse? Merchants group? DDA? You're holding yourselves hostage.
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#35 Andy 1999-11-29 20:00
All I know is I dropped the wife off downtown on Sunday for that Love Struck shopping thing while I went out north of town to run some errands and when I picked her up she said most of the shops were closed even though they said they'd be open for this special weekend deal. You might have been open but 90% of everybody else wasn't. And you wonder why people don't come shop in downtown Holly? Just tell them an event is going on and then not show up to open your doors when they actually make the effort to come. I don't think you need s survey for that.
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#36 Cathy 1999-11-29 20:00
Janet, I'm sorry I missed you on Saturday Night you must not have come down to my end of town. My store, My Sweet Holly was brightly lit and OPEN until 8pm during LoveStruck. In fact, I keep my corner lit up when I'm not open (I have the bills to prove it) but I WAS OPEN until 8pm as promised during the LoveStruck event. I've strived to work on the events in this town and keep consistent hours. Unfortunately, there is no support for those of us struggling to give this town what they say they want.
It quickly becomes very frustrating!
It works both ways....
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#37 Goodman 1999-11-29 20:00
Janet - Good ideas, I do agree w/ Darrin that we need to also find away to isolate those who choose not to come here. It may be the last priority but valuable nonetheless.

My greatest concern is that we get data, validate what I believe to be true (people want more growth, including familiar brands), only to have Marsha Powers (and others in similar roles) disregard it because it doesn't mesh with what they personally believe or what close friends/allies believe. But we can cross that bridge when we get to it.
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#38 Brian 1999-11-29 20:00
I hope not to repeat any one comment and will just throw in my two cents, the village office study has a very narrow focus, unlike this study. Much of the debate seams to be around who should pick up the bill, I think the Chamber of commerce and the DDA should be on the hook. also to address a few comments about why we have so many committees and boards check this out, . Number 8 speaks to why the EDTF has an important role in our community.
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#39 Ryan 1999-11-29 20:00
It's great to see that people here are looking beyond "step 1" and down the road to "step 2" and beyond in terms of data-driven decision making!

FWIW, getting data outside of the community is obviously tougher. If there was the capacity to do so, I would recommend a telephone survey of about 1000 people in the state of Michigan, asking some of the same consumer behavior and market segment questions, but focusing more on preferences in community qualities and aspects (for potential residents) and tourism and vacation questions. You don't need to ask what people think of Holly specifically, only what compels people to live, work, play and visit where they do.

I'm sure, though, that the creativity and innovation that has produced a community market research survey for less than 10% of a conventional cost can be used to collect that sort of data, too.
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#40 carol 1999-11-29 20:00
This survey is imperative to the growth and development of our community.

I have always felt that if anyone wants to change the existing merchants they are going down the wrong road. The existing merchants are doing what they feel is right for them.

What we need is data. Hard data to feed to any prospective companies, and new residents looking to move into our community. The only way we can do this is with information collected from three sources. First, our residents, secondly the people that work in our community and not live here, and lastly the people that come into our community to spend money.

If/when a new DDA director is hired they can use this information. Real Estate Agents should also be using this data if they are looking at leasing commercial property, or selling property.

As residents we should be happy to provide feedback both positive, and give constructive criticism about Holly. Other communities do this and have developed profitable downtown, and commercial areas. Google community surveys. Research what other communities have done with similar data.

Most importantly, if the community, our boards, commissions, and councils are not going to support the survey how do we expect them to support the data that it provides? It is a double edge sword. This is not the first time this survey has been brought in front of the DDA and met with resistance.

Sorry about the spelling. I have had far too many Paczki's from Holly Donut today!
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#41 Darrin 1999-11-29 20:00
I can't speak for Goodman, but Janet, I think your approach is a great starts if we are unable to fund such a survey the "right way" need a plan B. We'd at least get some anecdotal insight. The only gap would be information from those who choose NOT to visit Holly or partake in our events. Is it the distance? The real/perceived lack of things to do or places to visit? Is Holly "just not that exciting"? You might get some thought-starters via your methods, but we wouldn't do ourselves justice with this segment of the population in terms of a genuine sample. Perhaps there is a grass roots way to attack this part, but the geographical range makes it more difficult to accomplish.
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#42 Janet Leslie 1999-11-29 20:00
Of course, I'm not the marketing expert, but I have a feeling that the questions we would want to ask of those outside our primary market would be different than those we want to ask of it. I see two more surveys in our future, after the completion of the market research survey.

I think a survey of those outside of our community could be done rather inexpensively if we did what some have suggested, and survey visitors to the Renaissance Festival. The survey could be handed out with the promise of a drawing of respondents at a certain point in the day. This would serve a dual purpose, as the drawing could be for donated gift certificates from Holly merchants, which may lead festival-goers to our town. I don't know that this survey would be scientific, but it would give us a snapshot of what outsiders think of Holly.

The third survey could also be done inexpensively. I think we should survey visitors to Holly. This could be done with short survey cards found at the cashier counters of area businesses. Again, I don't think that this kind of survey could be considered scientifically valid, but it would give us an idea of why visitors come to Holly, and how they rate the experience when they do.

How does that sound, Goodman?
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#43 Goodman 1999-11-29 20:00
I say boost the survey price tag from $1,700 to $2,000 and send a small sample out to surrounding communities. Find out what they think of Holly, what draws them here, and/or what doesn't.
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#44 Jason Hughes 1999-11-29 20:00
Bob, I don't think anyone would disagree that a new DDA director would have a a to-do list longer than Saginaw Street and that the person would be under the gun to show marked improvements out of the gate. I don't think it would be any different for anyone who moves into any of these leadership positions (council, committee or otherwise).

There is a lot of ways to make improvements and maybe the best way to handle it is to focus on a few things to completion and not use such a broad approach. When was the last time any of our community leaders and groups were armed with such quantitative data to help the progression of Holly?

Some might not see it as worth all the "hullabaloo" but there seems to be a fair amount (just speaking from responses here) that feel it may be worth the investment. Don't get me wrong, I don't believe this is the "duct tape" to fix everything. I just see it as a valuable tool that can increase the potential that already exists. If it is used to help bring in one successful business it has paid for itself in my eyes.
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#45 Janet Leslie 1999-11-29 20:00
The market research survey will be a tool that can be used by the entire community to achieve a variety of goals both short- and long-term, but Bob and Pete each make the very valid point that, when it comes to downtown development, it is the investment made by the merchants that counts the most, whether that investment is in their individual storefronts or in a commitment to working together to achieve mutual goals.

On that note, I would like to commend Holly and Dan Jablonski of the Holly Candle Shoppe for their continued commitment to the quality of the experience of visiting their store, and for their commitment to the overall goals of the downtown and to the economic viability of the community as a whole. I visited downtown twice during the Lovestruck event this weekend. On my second trip, at about 6:30 Saturday evening, the only "open" sign I could find was at the Holly Candle Shoppe.

While I believe strongly in the potential of the market research survey to assist business owners and community leaders throughout the Holly area, nothing is as valuable to any community as the commitment of time, energy, and resources made by the visionary entrepreneur.
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#46 Bob 1999-11-29 20:00
While I believe that the survey will indeed make a great tool by which the future DDA Director will use to help make decisions for the area, I think this is only a small part of the task that lies ahead for this person and hardly fodder for all of this hullabaloo.

The bigger task will be to bring the merchants - who all seem to all have their own agenda - to work together. Make no mistake, the success and failure of the new Director sits directly on the fact of whether or not this person will be able to rally the downtown merchants and get their support.

In addition, I believe the new Director will have an even larger task of making events happen this year with no budget and most cash coming from fund raisers and donations... all the while trying to keep the Village Council happy and being the fall guy (person) for Downtown, taking a beating every time someone thinks the Village fell short on a Downtown event or on progress, despite it being largely out of that Director's control.

I certainly agree this survey will help... but making an argument of how much this survey is going to help the Director on a day-to-day basis is blowing things a little out of proportion. I think we can all agree the future Director will have bigger issues and bigger fish to fry when he or she is eventually hired.
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#47 Peter Clemens 1999-11-29 20:00

Thank you for your comments but I assure you that I assume nothing. In your last post to this string you quoted facts and figures that were specific and intimate to the last DDA meeting. Therefore either you were in the room at the time or you are extremely well informed by somebody who was. In either case the message that you echo is to protect what we have now and eschews those things that may help with future development. You bring nothing new to the table and you fail to grasp the concept that Holly simply cannot continue to stagnate financially while our neighbouring communities grow their tax bases at our expense. You're right about one thing though, I am influenced by a certain relationship. Itââà ¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚¬Ã¢ „¢s my relationship with the Holly community and my hope for its future success. Whether I hold and office or not in this community the bottom line is that I still live here and have a vested interest in seeing this community succeed. To propose that the focus of the DDA should be âââ €šÂ¬Ã†¦ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…“party planningâà ¢â€šÂ¬Ã ƒâ€šÃ‚ diminishes the concept of âââ €šÂ¬Ã†¦ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…“developmentà ƒÆ’¢âââ ‚¬Å¡Ã‚¬Ã‚à ƒâ€šÃ‚ that figures so prominently in the DDAââà ƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…¡Ã‚¬Ã ¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…¾Ã‚¢s name.

Finally to answer the question that you posed me, my answer is to suggest that you take a stroll around the downtown and look at the amount of investment dollars that are being poured into the district. Look at the renovations that Bob Hoffman is making to 101 Saginaw, the third largest building in town. Walk across the street and check out the huge investment that Jimmy and Faye have made to the Downtown Holly Party Shoppe. Stop by Holly Mills, Pigeon in the Parlour, Bittersweet CafÃÃà ¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚©, Holly Candle Shoppe, and Janieâà¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…¡Ã‚¬Ãà ‚¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¾Ã‚¢s Coffee Shop. What you will find are but a few examples of astute business people who are investing in Holly today in hopes for a better tomorrow.
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#48 Darrin 1999-11-29 20:00
Ryan, Jason âââ €šÂ¬Ã¢Ã ¢â€šÂ¬Ã…“ Well said! Regarding the discussion of festivals, while we often look at the short-term goal of attracting residents and visitors for some fun and a shot-in the arm from a financial standpoint, the long-term goal sometimes goes unnoticed. That goal is to entice folks with everything we have to offer, so theyââ ‚¬Ã ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¾Ã‚¢ll be more apt to take advantage of the Holly experience when there is no festival...more of a sustained benefit. But if we donââà ƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…¡Ã‚¬Ã ¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…¾Ã‚¢t focus our efforts heavily on the underpinnings of what we have to offer, then we are really cutting ourselves short. A survey is a perfect way to get the ball rolling, so Holly can stay true to its desired image while evolving in a way that appeals to the most people.
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#49 Ryan 1999-11-29 20:00
I want to touch on a couple topics-- using DDA $ the utility/value of the market reserach survey.

The DDA is saving $5100 per month. One thought is to use it to bolster events and other DDA programs. Another thought is to use it to fund survey research. Why not both? One month's savings covers both the survey and leaves $3400 for other programs. Then add in another month. And another month.

But I want to take that a step further. This is my own personal view, purely anecdotal. I would rather see DDA money be invested in growing and expanding business downtown instead of more events. Allow me to snap a picture: I am a 31 year old male with two young children. My hobbies are cooking and running/fitness. I like reading and long walks on the beach and Italian food. As a taxpayer and consumer in Holly, what businesses or events interest me? Ladies Night Out? Antique, furniture and houseware stores? Nope. Any stores for my kids? Nope. Any book stores or news stands? Nope. Dickens Festival--since no stores cater to my lifestyle needs, I'm not terribly compelled to go for more than a little while to hear carolers and eat some chestnuts.

Based on Suzanne Perrault's DDA district inventory, a majority of the retail or service businesses in the historic downtown appeal to a female market, early-middle-age and older, with higher disposable income. That excludes me and about 15 of my neighbors in either direction of me. Perhaps, this market accurately reflects the overall Holly community market and business development is not needed, but how would you know without researching that theory?

As for the dozen reasons to not have a survey, give me a dozen reasons why Holly does need this data. Anyone can sit around and turn anything into a negative or drawback and use it as an excuse not to take action. Yes, the survey has a shelf-life of a couple of years. Yes, there are opportunity costs. Yes, businesses might not have ability to expand or capitalize immediately. Yes, Canada could invade and take over Holly. Yes, a black hole might swallow the earth.

I apologize for the sarcasm, but if all you do is focus on why something shouldn't or can't be done, then nothing will ever be done. We can be thoughtful and deliberate in our decisions without obstructing progress.
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#50 Jason Hughes 1999-11-29 20:00
Jen, I have some questions for you. How do you expect a new DDA director to sell Holly to new businesses? How do you expect a DDA director to know what businesses to target? Do you expect the DDA to fund festivals and events year in and year out or do you think the festivals should be self funded (of course with volunteers and donations from local groups and businesses)?

I can tell you other communities that have festivals are mostly self funded and reinvest that money into future festivals (the Jaycees have 6 festivals in Frankenmuth and bring in $600,000+). They do this through successful planning and the collective effort of volunteers. I don't think it is entirely on the DDA's shoulders to fund or support festivals (although they should take an active part).

I can also tell you that a DDA director will be more successful with survey results in hand when selling Holly to potential new businesses. It is much easier to show prospective entrepreneurs survey figures about the lifestyles and spending habits of locals as opposed to saying, "Well people generally say..." or "Your business would be successful because the vocal minority says..."

There is more to Holly than the two or three square blocks that is "downtown" and as a community we should broaden our focus a little. How many vacant buildings have been sitting in the middle of our community (not in historic downtown) vacant and deteriorating for years? The old Joseph Pontiac building is literally crumbling. It is sitting right in the middle of our community and is nothing more than an eye sore. We have a main road with a large amount of traffic between two main highways (Grange Hall Road) and it is under developed for the volume of traffic (in my opinion). These are tax dollars that Holly isn't capitalizing on.

Keep the historic and unique "downtown" but lets bring in some of the big box stores as well and put them throughout the rest of the area. Each of our neighboring communities have done this, some with more success than others, and we could learn from them. We don't have to reinvent the wheel here.

We don't have to be Fenton, but we can learn from them by observing the positives and negatives.
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#51 jen 1999-11-29 20:00
Mr. Clemens you shouldn't make such assumptions (I'm sure you're aware what happens when one assumes?) & you are INCORRECT. I am NOT a DDA board memeber, merely a concerned & informed resident. Maybe I should look into joining a board or commission, some Village Council seats are up soon aren't they?

Correct it's not the DDA's money, but the pepole's - and the DDA is here to support those within this community.

Great the DDA is saving money without paying the director salary, how much would that $5100.00/month saved help Dickens or Carry Nation? Or assist in paying off the streetscape? Or help in expanding & advertising Ladies Night? Or bring back Blews, Brews & Barbeque?

I'm not going to argue with you, you have your opinion (could yours be inlfuenced because of a certain relationship?) and I have mine.

I do have one question, say this survey is completed & the info is out there for those many actually have the money to expand, start or reformat their business today? Or next year for that matter?
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#52 Ryan 1999-11-29 20:00
Jason--the EDTF spent several meetings discussing the logistics of the survey project, from distributing to increasing response rate. All manner of ideas were brought out--drawings/raffles, postage, drop-offs; including in tax/water bills, online, etc. Once we started putting price tags to the options, the best case scenario was mailing 2000 with postage-paid return envelope. We didn't rule out any option or possibility, but many of the others seriously challenged the statistical validity or stood to skew the results. A price tag of about 5% of market value for this service seemed very reasonable.

As for who should be responsible for funding this project, I should hope that at the price of it, there should be a line to contribute. We honestly felt that the DDA and some of its directors would be in prime position to take advantage of the opportunity. I look at merchants like Kel Leigh Coale, who run successful businesses and are building cooperative business efforts (the bridal district), and think about how market research data would specifically benefit them. For example, the survey asks respondents whether photography is a hobby--she could use that info to get a elementary gauge on teaching amateur photography classes and what kind of demographics and segments to structure her marketing messages. The survey also asks about music preferences--an excellent data point for anyone selecting entertainment at events. The survey asks about media usage--which will help any merchant determine how to maximize their advertising dollars, or how event organizers can best promote their events.

There really is no limit to how the data can be directly applied, and it can be safely generalized to the Holly Community, not just the specific respondents or a small segment of the population.
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#53 Peter Clemens 1999-11-29 20:00

I’ve been around long enough know what is likely to happen with this task force survey. The DDA, village and township will refuse to fund it for $1,700 at this time because they just donââà ƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…¡Ã‚¬Ã ¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…¾Ã‚¢t see the value. Then a few years down the road, some agency will approach the DDA/village/township and offer a matching grant to do the exact same survey. The cost of this future survey to the taxpayers a few years from now even with the matching grant will be on the order of $10,000 to $15,000 dollars. And the DDA/village/township will jump all over it all the while patting themselves on the back for saving the taxpayers all that money. Bear in mind Jen, this is the peopleâà¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚¬Ã ¢â€žÂ¢s money, not the DDAââà ƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬��…¡Ã‚¬Ã ¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…¾Ã‚¢s. These taxes are levied to fund future development in the DDA district. I question how it is that you know what future development we should be planning for, without commissioning a survey or study from time to time. Shooting from the hip with the âââ €šÂ¬Ã†¦ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…“shotgunÃÆ ’¢ââ₠¬Ã…¡Ã‚¬Ã‚  approach that Darlene mentions has not worked in the past and will not work in the future. Planned comprehensive growth of this community is the only surefire recipe for success.
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#54 Peter Clemens 1999-11-29 20:00
It seems like the only time I write anymore is to correct misconceptions, but here I go again.

In the first place, I directed the task force to the DDA to ask for funding. It wasnââ ‚¬Ã ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¾Ã‚¢t the other way around. Letââà ƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…¡Ã‚¬Ã ¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…¾Ã‚¢s face it folks, the village and township are both cash strapped and unable to commit funds for any projects outside of the necessary administration of government at this time. On the other hand, the DDA, while not flush with cash, is saving $5,100 a month by not having a director on the payroll.

Jen, as I believe that you are a DDA board member writing under a pseudonym, allow me to correct a few of your statements. One, the DDA is not the main funding source for either the Dickens Festival or the Carry Nation Festival. While the DDA may from time to time donate to these festivals, our only official involvement is to allow them the use of our insurance, much in the same fashion that the parks system allows the fireworks committee use of their insurance. Former DDA directors have voluntarily donated their time and efforts to help coordinate with the festival committees, but this is not an official function of the director. Two, I donââà ƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…¡Ã‚¬Ã ¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…¾Ã‚¢t think that anyone is being naÃÃâ €šÃ‚¯ve about how much money the DDA has, but by the same token with every month that goes by without a director, they have more to allocate to other programs. Donââà ƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…¡Ã‚¬Ã ¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…¾Ã‚¢t get me wrong, Iââà¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…¡Ã‚¬Ã¢à ƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…¾Ã‚¢m not advocating that the DDA not hire a director, but the reality is that it will take the rest of February and likely all of March before a new director can be hired and seated. We have already addressed a reduction in the salary and benefits package for the new director and these savings should ease the TIF capture shortfall for this coming fiscal year. Three, funding for the DDA is not solely from the Village. The DDA district captures money from the Township Library, Parks and General Fund. Your derogatory statement questioning how much the township is putting toward the task force survey was misguided at best. This âââ €šÂ¬Ã†¦ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…“UsÃà ‚¢Ã¢â€š ¬Â versus âââ €šÂ¬Ã†¦ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…“Themà ¢ââ€Å ¡Ã‚¬Ã‚  mindset is, in my opinion, the number one reason that this community stagnates in mediocrity when we should be setting the new example.
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#55 Dan Jablonski 1999-11-29 20:00
All good ideas, Jason... I'm not sure either how they control the submission of more than one survey from the same household (numbered, tracked surveys?), but on the web we have some ways to curtail that a bit to reduce duplicate entries from online users.

My point is, if the survey has been built, the lack of available funds by no means should be what holds this from being executed... there are always ways that can be equally effective and low cost.
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#56 Jason Hughes 1999-11-29 20:00
Dan, I was even thinking that they could be distributed more effectively at the election sites. I am not entirely sure of the survey process or concerns but just from my experience working with data, my initial concern would be households filling out more than one survey. I could be way off on this and Ryan could speak better about the methods for distribution and the reasoning behind it.

If we need to stand in the intersections holding a fireman's boot or using a local parking lot to wash cars to collect funds for this project, sign me up. I truly feel our community deserves this.
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#57 Janet Leslie 1999-11-29 20:00
Though it would save postage to ask residents to pick up and return a survey to a local merchant, the results would not be as valid. Those participating in the survey would be limited only to those who habitually go downtown, or who are so interested in the survey that they were willing to go out of their way to go downtown to get one. What about the data on those who never go downtown, or who have little knowledge of or connection with Holly news and the fact that we are conducting a market research survey? Not only is data from these folks necessary to make the results valid, as an elusive segment of the market, data on these less involved people will be very desirable to have.

In other words, if you want to know how to get more people to shop downtown, you don't ask only those who already shop there. You also ask those who don't.

I think using area merchants to distribute a survey might be more useful in the event that we decide to conduct a correlated survey of visitors to our community. ("What brought you to Holly today?" "Did your visit meet your expectations?" etc.)

Keep the ideas coming! Just the fact that so many of us are discussing ways of moving the community forward is very encouraging.
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#58 Jason Hughes 1999-11-29 20:00
Jen, I don't feel that the DDA 'owes' anyone anything beyond its role and function. My point was that skepticism regarding Ryan's motives doesn't seem fair (or sound) at this point. Honestly I was a little skeptical when I first heard of involvement but looking further and seeing the volunteered effort he has contributed thus far, I don't see how receiving a $15000 service at what, an 88% discount, is an opportunity that the entire Holly community can easily pass up. Yes Ryan will gain experience and be able to update a resume from this, but what company wouldn't?

As I said before, there is nothing keeping the DDA (or anyone else) from shopping around and comparing services but I strongly doubt there are others that can come close to this proposal.

Jen, I don't believe that any organization has an excess of funds to spend on any 'want' at this point, let alone in Michigan or in Holly. If this survey was conducted 3 or even 5 years ago, do you think we would be in the same boat or in a little better position? It's not something that can be proved, but I am betting that we would be a little better off (at least we would have substantial direction from the community).

I don't think the DDA owes the EDTF anything except some gratitude for the efforts that the EDTF has contributed. My thought process is that if the DDA sees that this survey is long overdue (as does many) then it may feel compelled to contribute some of the cost. Especially if there hasn't been a salary going out to a director since January.

Who says the community wants or can support an upscale restaurant with a wine cellar and a banquet center? How would that effect existing businesses? Overall, is that the direction the community feels Holly should move in? These aren't answers that can be gathered without determining the communities interests and spending habits. It would be nice but if it isn't sustainable then the building will be empty again.

If we can be creative in finding a way to keep other activities that cost much more going (like the fireworks or the Carry Nation Festival) I am sure there is a way to fund this survey. If the DDA determines it can't contribute to the cost, I would hope that the project isn't discarded.
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#59 Fred Hopper 1999-11-29 20:00
This is simply a "behavior" analysis that will give us a high level overview of where our Community, all of it, could go in the medium to long term future. If we find out that 40% of our residents would frequent, and support, a (pick your service or store) would it be a good idea to maybe start one? This data can give us the information that someone will require to start a business on something more than a "gut" feeling that it will be a financial success.

As of right now, we have no real understanding of what our citizens would like to see in our Village and the surrounding area. We do have a lot of opinions, but no verifiable data to support why we have these opinions.

I strongly believe that the entire community, Village, Township, Chamber, DDA, the Councils and the surrounding area, should support this effort to find out where our citizens would like to see the community in five years, ten years, etc.

The data, even if valid for five years or so, is still valid, and can give us some real insight into the future of the Holly Area

Of course, anyone interested in it can use it. Free.

Lets see, Ten Thousand residents in 48442 works out to 17 cents per person. Ryan, sign me up to support five peoples share. I will give you a dollar and you can keep the change.
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#60 jen 1999-11-29 20:00
There isn't a guarantee any demographic would respond. And no one is expecting a survey to be the "silver bullet" but when money is this tight every penny spent needs to be looked over with a fine tooth comb. Taxpayers want to know & see exactly where their money is going.

As I stated, if the Village, DDA & Township finances were in a better state this survey could be beneficial. But right now that $1700.00 could be spent a hundred different ways on equally worthwhile projects.

Jason, you seem to be of the opinion that the DDA owes this to the task force, that itââà ¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚¬Ãâ₠¬Â¹Ãƒâ€¦Ã¢â‚¬Å“s the DDAââà ƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…¡Ã‚¬Ã ¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…¾Ã‚¢s responsibility to fund the task force agenda,(âà ¢â€šÂ¬Ã ƒâ€¦Ã¢â‚¬Å“Also, what is stopping the DDA from seeking alternative means to generate the $1700?.....If the DDA is truly interested the DDA should be seeking the funds right?âà¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚¬Ã ‚). It's easy to make suggestions about what others should be doing.

The DDA did not ask for this survey, the task force went to them, with their hands out. Why is it the DDAs responsibility to seek alternative funding for the task force? Because in your opinion it would benefit the DDA most? I agree the DDA could benefit, but something else the DDA funds might lose out.

How would you like the DDA to seek alternative funding? They applied for grants for the Village Office survey and were denied. What are the other alternatives? Not fund Ladies Night? Itââà ¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚¬Ã¢ „¢s unfortunate (and ironic) you can so easily dismiss the value in the Village Office Survey while being such a proponent of the task force survey. Proactive things are being accomplished, perhaps not the specific ones the task force would like but they are being accomplished.

There seems to be a misconception that the DDA is flush with cash. But in REALITY the DDA is experiencing their own financial issues and are having to seriously look at their budget & the projects they are ALREADY committed too. Let's not naively assume they just have the money lying around.
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#61 Dan Jablonski 1999-11-29 20:00
If this truly needs to go grass roots, why not do as Darrin suggested and allow the forms to be dropped off at area merchant's stores to be collected later? In fact, why not take it a little further and actually make the forms available at Holly stores? The Holly Express is doing a great service here to get the word out... people just have to pick them up and hey, it gets them into the area stores!

I would also suggest, why not make the survey available in PDF format on the Village and Township websites? Heck, why not even make the form interactive so folks can take the survey online and circumvent the whole need for postage and/or collection all together?

The problem is not the delivery or retrieval of these surveys... the hard part should only be getting the word out to the people of Holly so they know where to get the surveys.

Just my two cents...
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#62 Rob Namowicz 1999-11-29 20:00
Being an old fuddy duddy it is easy to see there is a changing demographic in Holly and environs. The survey is only a tool and younger families would respond. The addressed envelope would greatly increase response. Holly has something newer suburbs will never have, a real downtown, and a real small town that can't be replicated. There are new folks in the area who are now committed by virtue a moving in and having to stay. Get ideas and let the data help flesh out what people who are active want in their village.
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#63 Janet Leslie 1999-11-29 20:00
It should be noted that the directors of both the Carry Nation Festival and the Dickens Festival have accepted the EDTF's invitation to participate in this ongoing survey project. In fact, both of them participated in the focus group study that preceded the survey. It is not the intention of the EDTF to steal opportunities away from the festivals. Rather, we intend to enhance those opportunities as Jason described above.

I'd also like to explain that when the EDTF began discussing how we would finance the distribution of the survey, the first idea suggested was to ask for equal contributions from the village, township, DDA, and Chamber of Commerce. An EDTF member who is also a village resident was quick to point out that the municipalities would not have the excess in their budgets to offer financial help. That is why we chose to ask the village and township for no more than a vote of confidence.

The Chamber of Commerce was generous enough to offer what support they could afford, and we have asked the DDA to cover the remainder of the cost. While it would be preferable to ask for equal contributions from all who stand to benefit, sometimes when the goal is to accomplish something that will benefit the entire community, it is more practical to ask just those who are best able to contribute. We didn't mean to offend anyone by NOT asking for money from the village and the township. We were simply trying to be realistic.
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#64 Jason Hughes 1999-11-29 20:00
I don't mean to argue with you Jen but this survey could indeed help with the festivals as well. The Carry Nation Festival, for example, has been slowly deteriorating over the years. The survey can be used to determine what truly interests residents. The survey can also be used to determine which types of businesses would be successful in our community (which helps to bring in outside dollars to festivals). This would allow the DDA to focus on which businesses to focus on.

Also, what is stopping the DDA from seeking alternative means to generate the $1700? The EDTF is supporting the DDA directly (not the Village and Township specifically). If the DDA is truly interested the DDA should be seeking the funds right?

As much as I would like to see something happen with the Village Offices, this survey has been long overdue. As for questioning Ryan and his motives, he has invested a large amount of time voluntarily and has promised to do much more. It would be up to the 'investors' to determine if his services are worth while and to negotiate what support they would be receiving after the survey results are compiled.

The longevity of the survey data is a valid concern as well, but in any volatile economic time any survey, regardless of its creator, would potentially have short term relevancy. And the more effective the survey is and the quicker its data is put to use successfully, the shorter its relevancy. Unfortunately it is a static device that doesn't grow or evolve like a survey poll on a website would (hint hint ;-) ).

It is just my personal view but if this survey was done years ago the community would be closer to the vision that we all have of Holly (if that vision could truly be defined without a community survey...).
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#65 Janet Leslie 1999-11-29 20:00
The resources are in place to utilize the survey. The survey, which is not a public opinion survey, but is a survey which will provide statistically valid quantitative data of the lifestyle and purchasing habits of our business community's primary market,can be utilized by the DDA, Chamber of Commerce, property owners, and anyone else looking to recruit new business to our community. It can also be used by our current business owners to find opportunities for growth, and to provide insight as to the best ways to advertise to that market. The survey results will be used by the EDTF to help develop a long-term vision of the Holly community which can then be used to inform each board, council, and commission as they make decisions regarding our mutual future. Such a vision cannot be considered valid without ample input from the community, and without the endorsement of the village council and township board. The survey is one avenue of gathering community input, and it is one for which we believe we need village and township support.

Whether or not the DDA finds it within its budget to cover the cost of distributing the survey, there is no doubt that there are ample resources in place to utilize the survey results.
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#66 Jason Hughes 1999-11-29 20:00
Great job Ryan and the EDTF! I read the proposed survey and if used to its potential can be an invaluable tool for the community and at a ridiculously discounted price.

To address some of Rita's comments, the various councils and committees have only been able to make decisions based on generalities and the opinions of a small percentage of the Holly community. This survey will allow our community leaders to make informed decisions based on a very specific view of what residents want. In addition to that, this survey can also be a useful tool in selling our community to interested businesses that are seeking a new location (like a brewery?).

As the article states, it seems everyone has a vague idea of how they wish Holly to progress but there isn't a lot of definition or direction. This tool could substantially increase community involvement and reduces the risk of making changes that the general public could end up regretting. I don't see how you could lose by utilizing this survey.

Again great job EDTF and Ryan!
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#67 jen 1999-11-29 20:00
Since this will also cover & benefit the Township what have they been asked to contribute? Nothing, as usual it's all being asked of the Village. And how is this committee supporting the existing boards & etc. by asking for funding? Sounds like it's the task force that needs the support.

In "theroy" this sounds like a good idea but Ryan makes a very good point, this survey is only worth what officals, leaders & volunteers are willing to do with it. For it to be benefical we need the committment from all Councils, Boards & volunteers for it to be worth spending this money, and at this point we have so many other more pressing issues like the future of Dickens & Carry Nation. I think most residents would like to see a 'tangiable' use of the $1700.00 at the community level.

There are also some questions concerning the marketing firm and the level of experience. When the owner of the marketing firm doesn't sound confident about the community & how the survey results will be used, there's a big red flag. Sounds a bit like ego boosting (by task force) & resume padding. Also, how long will the results be valid? I've been informed, 3-5 yrs. Will that change (be valid for less time) due to the ever changing economy?

The bottom line is the bottom dollar. The DDA is looking at a 12% decrease in their tax capture, add that to the nearly $70,000.00 streetscape loan payment and there isn't much left over for a Director salary (which everyone agrees is needed) & the funding for existing events/programs - i.e. dickens, ladies night out, facade grants, out door dining grants.... The DDA is faced with cutting funding to their existing programs, how can they be asked to support other efforts when they aren't sure they'll have the funds for their existing programs.

The role of the DDA is to support the businesses within it's district (which extends beyond downtown), give businesses a reason to remain in the DDA district as well as attract new businesses. If we have no events (or poorly executed events) and no grants to offer and only survey results how will that help?

There are proactive steps being taken, the Village & DDA are currently conducting a very thorough survey on the Village Offices for the use of a restaurant. The survey will give detailed results and plans for investors of what can be done with the building, not just opinions. The DDA will also have a bill of $4500.00 for this survey.

If the Village, Township & DDA weren't in such a financial pinch this $1700.00 survey may be benefical. But at this point our tax dollars are already being stretched to cover current expenses, lets not add to them when there seems to be a big question as to how helpful this survey will really be.

we're not certain if the resources are in place to utilize this survey.
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#68 Ryan 1999-11-29 20:00
Jen, I'm neither confident nor not-confident in our public officials or leaders. As I've stated since we began this project, there is nothing in any of our research activities that will provide silver bullet solutions or answers. There will not be a "checklist of things to do" in the executive report. It would be unethical of me to claim otherwise--all we can do is provide a resource for our officials to identify and decide on courses of action.

Of course, I understand wanting to see "tangible" outcomes and products of spending money. But wouldn't you agree that giving the Carry Nation and Dickens Festival planners information on community media usage, interests and activities will help them be more effective in their event planning? Wouldn't the DDA benefit from knowing the shopping habits and lifestyle interests of community residents when promoting the business district to potential investors? Wouldn't the Council and the Township benefit from having employment and industry data to help attract jobs or other beneficial development?

And yes, typically market research is good for approximately 5 years, and is not significantly affected by normal changes in the economy.
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#69 Darlene 1999-11-29 20:00
Attitudes expressed as the first comment (above) are just the reason why "status quo" and stagnant are the same around here. The fact is - these existing organizations need help. Ok - maybe everyone has good ideas and good intentions - but what is missing is FOCUS. The shotgun method of 'a little here - a little there... maybe adding an extra ribbon around the waste containers...' is not helping the image or the quality of life around this area - all while the spectre Carrie's hatchet is waving above the future of Holly.

A methodical approach of what to put in the spotlight, what to keep off the stage, how to begin (or strengthen) a new phase of what appeals most to everyone is what it sounds like this task force hopes to accomplish.

Why not get the buy-in from the community by finding out through a survey? This is the kind of strategy used by businesses that want to remain successful.

Find the strengths and opportunities. Use them.
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#70 Ryan 1999-11-29 20:00
One of the questions that I've consistently received regarding the survey is, "What do we do with it?" And my answer is consistently, "Whatever you want." Any data collecting or research activities are only as valuable as the uses they're put to. If our officials and leaders aren't interested in being proactive, taking the initiative and pursuing data-driven progress, then there really isn't much value in the project.

A normal research project like this would be a minimum of $15,000, and could conceivably approach $30,000 or more if you also collect regional, state or national data. To get the material cost of this project to less than $2000 shows the motivation and commitment of the EDTF to make this happen, even in the face of lacking resources.
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#71 Darrin 1999-11-29 20:00
Good idea, Rita. Let's do away with the Task Force, since obviously so much progress was being made without it (can you sense the sarcasm?).

Give me a break. The Task Force can and should work with established organizations when appropriate, but to disregard it just for the sake of doing so is incredibly short-sighted. To me, I really like the direction of the Task Force...I only wish it could move even faster.

Regarding the $1,700, chances are, it'd be worth the investment; only if the data received is turned into actional information. Having said that, given that we are a small community, I'd be open to just dropping the survey off at some pre-determined location (e.g. downtown at the Candle Shop) to save on postage costs. This might hurt the response rate, but perhaps it could be distributed initially to a greater sample to offset this. Just a thought...
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#72 Janet Leslie 1999-11-29 20:00
The Holly Area Economic Development Task Force was created by decision of both the village council and township board at our last joint meeting on August 13, 2009. All members of both groups voted in favor of its creation, with the exception of council member Tom McKenney, who was absent from that meeting.

The purpose of the task force is not to duplicate the efforts of the DDA or the Chamber of Commerce, but rather to support them. As we are an ad hoc task force, we can focus on projects that may not be within the scope or budget of either of those groups. As volunteers, we dedicate significant time to considering the issue of development without being distracted by other business. Nevertheless, many of us on the task force are also members of the Chamber of Commerce and some of us also volunteer for the DDA. Former DDA Director Suzanne Perreault was an invaluable participant in the formation of the Economic Development Task Force.

The only thing the EDTF is lacking is funding, and so we must ask for assistance from the groups whose efforts we are seeking to support. If the former DDA Director thought a $15,000 market research survey would be valuable, it stands to reason that the same product at the bargain price of $1,700 would be seen as a golden opportunity.
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#73 rita 1999-11-29 20:00
"community involvement and community spirit are somewhat low"

this survey still does nothing for community involvement... it's just "do nothing information". the DDA doesn't have that kind of money to be 'blowing'. it'd be nice if we had that money to put towards some of the mini-events the merchants have been planning to spark community involvement. you're going to get community involvement by giving the people reason to visit our town... they come and you give them a reason to come back...and that grows into them even wanting to extend themselves to volunteer. why would they want to be involved when theres nothing worth being involved in? a survery doesn't equal involvement.

and...why was this extra 'task force' even created when there is such a thing under the DDA? let's stop creating all these extra little groups for the sake of egos and get under the wings of already established organizations like the chamber and dda. they need some major revitalization and from that we can grow events for the community and in turn grab their interest and inspire them to participate!!
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#74 Janet Leslie 2010-04-22 08:35
Last night, at the regular meeting of the Holly Township Board of Trustees, the board agreed to finance the remaining $1,300 needed to send the survey out. Thank you to my fellow board members for their support, and thank you to the five community members who personally contributed to financing this project. Thanks to the many area residents who voiced their support for the survey here and elsewhere. A big thanks also goes to Ryan Bladzik of Great Lakes Creative for the many volunteer hours involved in seeing this project to fruition. Well done, everyone.
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#75 Darrin 2010-04-22 10:49
Congrats to everyone involved! It feels nice for us to collectively be a part of a small victory like this...
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#76 Jason M Hughes 2010-04-22 14:03
I was dissapointed that I couldn't attend the meeting last night, especially when I heard second hand that financing for the survey had been approved. It is good to see the hard work thus far on this project paying off and moving into the next phase. A lot of effort is evolving into a "product" that the entire community should be proud of.

Again thank you to the EDTF and Ryan Bladzik (Great Lakes Creative) for the blood, sweat and tears that went into this and to the community leaders on the councils and committees that have supported their efforts and helped where possible. I truly feel that this is a significant stepping stone to the progress of our community.
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#77 beadempress 2010-04-24 09:03
how many more years do we have to look at that rundown joseph pontiac bldg on saginaw and the very dangerous looking carwash on rosette and saginaw?- way too much of this town looks like a ghetto- not a lot of civic pride-
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#78 Gary the Foot 2010-10-05 14:41
Any updates on the Blackberry Bakery, Taco Bell, and Blackthorn Pub? Economic development is one of my hot issues, so I just like to know what's going on with this kind of stuff, considering it's all been in the works for a while!
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#79 Ryan Bladzik 2010-10-05 15:57
The developers of Taco Bell were sued by the owner of Wendy's over a deed restriction and is currently in litigation.

I looked in Blackthorn Pub the other day and they are really making progress, but it was obvious that it was a LOT of work to begin with. They're supposed to still be on target to open this fall.
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#80 Janet Leslie 2010-10-05 16:26
The Blackberry Bakery is due to open any day. The Blackthorn Pub, having encountered a much bigger remodeling job than originally expected, has moved its projected opening to Christmastime. Taco Bell is apparently trying to resolve issues with our local Wendy's, which is trying to block the project based on a contract with the landowners who once owned both properties.
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#81 Gary the Foot 2010-10-06 07:03
Janet, Ryan - Thanks! Can you tell I was both curious about economic development and craving food at the same time? :-)
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#82 Janet Leslie 2010-10-10 16:24
The Blackberry Bakery opened this weekend! I hear they were packed! Congratulations, Barb!
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