It’s the fabulous quality of life, serene settings and easy access to big-city amenities that are attracting many new businesses to Clarkston and its surrounding communities. A thriving economy, an old-timey feel, and additions of new infrastructure to support businesses and new homes are setting the stage for a progressive future of well-managed growth.
“We have a quaint downtown area and a nice balance of businesses, restaurants, retail, Realtors and professional services,” said Jonathan Smith, city manager of the Village of Clarkston. “The businesses are bringing in a lot of visitors, the economy is strong and real estate is in high demand.”
In nearby Independence Township, a blend of businesses recently opened, pointing the way toward future growth and continued diversification.
“A hotel was granted site plan approval earlier this year,” said Pat Kittle, Independence Township supervisor. “A new credit union is open and a second credit union is in the site plan review process. Two fast-food chains recently started construction, and on the market, there are 500 homes in progress, either under construction or approved for construction.”
Independence is focused on attracting an array of businesses, primarily knowledge-based companies and retail operations, Kittle said, but there’s room in the mix for light industrial too. And some are investing big money and creating new jobs in the process.
“Magnet Marelli is a global company, and one that recently invested $35 million into a facility dedicated to the production of headlamps and lighting systems,” Kittle said. “They renovated an existing plant and are more than tripling the number of jobs there. Jobs will grow from roughly 68 to 468 in the next couple of years. The company is a solid citizen and they’ve done a fabulous job. We’re very pleased to have them.”
New homebuilding is spurring the economy, attracting investors and residents. For the long-range view, Kittle said, area agencies, officials and the township are working to develop projects that support a secure and healthy future.
“One of the biggest things we’re working on is bringing a Level II trauma center to the Independence Township,” he said. “McLaren Health Care, which operates health care facilities in Michigan and Indiana, would own and manage the center. They’re willing to invest $300 million in private capital in our community. It’s a win-win situation for all concerned.”
The center would add a new layer of diversity to the jobs economy, creating estimated 1,000 well-paying jobs and potentially bringing more by opening the door for the development of additional health-related facilities.
“The site is adjacent to 200 acres of undeveloped property that are perfect for doctors’ offices, clinics, retail and allied health businesses,” Kittle said.
Improvements and upgrades to roadways are in progress to accommodate both business and residential growth. Two important projects that recently began include The Clintonville Road Pathway, which will provide the installation of an 8-foot wide asphalt pathway and 10-foot wide wood boardwalk along the east side of Clintonville Road between Maybee and Waldon roads. And a $5 million widening project along Sashabaw Road will provide enhanced access to land prime for future development.
In the Village of Clarkston, an existing parking lot formerly closed has recently reopened, accommodating visits to the businesses downtown.
“We recognized that finding space for people to park was a critical step to supporting our businesses,” Smith said. “So, we worked closely with the owner of a private parking lot to reopen their lot to the public andw they agreed.”
The village enjoys a high occupancy rate thanks to a robust economy, but for those seeking to relocate here or start a new business, there’s always an opportunity.
“There’s always room for businesses to come here,” Smith said. “Our role is to encourage them to grow and flourish, and we support that in every possible way. It’s a great place for a home or business, and you can’t beat the amenities. We’re close to everything.”