Economic Development, Lakeshore, and Small Business & Startups

Holland SmartZone gains final approval

Officials expect approximately 180 new businesses will be created within 15 years.

May 6, 2016
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The Holland SmartZone has taken a major step in its mission to continue cultivating West Michigan’s economic environment well into the future.

The initial conversations for the Holland SmartZone began in August 2014. Now, nearly two years later, the plans are official.

The satellite of the Grand Rapids SmartZone received final state approval from the Michigan Economic Development Corp. and the Michigan Department of Treasury April 28, allowing for tax increment financing. The TIF capture of state education taxes will help the Holland SmartZone support growing businesses and entrepreneurs.

“SmartZone is good and well, but it’s about getting resources, networking, coaching and training (for the entrepreneurs),” said Craig Hall, chairman of the Holland SmartZone. “Without the TIF being passed, we would not have had the resources to do that, so yes, it was a very big deal for us. Without the treasurer’s approval, and the MEDC’s before that, it would have all been for naught.”

The approval of the TIF plan is the start of a 15-year tax capture program that is expected to yield more than $7.5 million to be reinvested back into local economic development, Hall said. In order to begin that process this year, final approval was needed by mid-May.

Though the Holland SmartZone won’t see a dime of that tax capture until the end of the year, Hall said the relationship with the Grand Rapids and Muskegon SmartZones will be instrumental in helping the Holland SmartZone continue its mission.

Lakeshore Advantage is the organization that will administer the SmartZone, which includes about 1,000 land parcels on 450 acres within the city of Holland and Holland Township. The area includes downtown Holland, the waterfront along Lake Macatawa and the Michigan State University Bioeconomy Institute.

The approved SmartZone 15-year plan outlines anticipated creation of approximately 180 high-tech businesses and 360 associated high-tech jobs during that timeframe. A significant portion of those businesses and jobs are expected to be created in the final years of the plan, beginning in 2026 and ending in 2030.

“What we’re doing is putting fertilizer on the field, and then it’s up to the entrepreneurs to put the seeds down and cultivate them,” Hall said. “We’re working to create an ecosystem that makes a difficult and dangerous startup environment easier to navigate.”

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