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Business roars ahead in Birmingham/Bloomfield area

It’s business as usual in the Birmingham/Bloomfield area and, as usual, business remains strong.

“I would say the all sectors, especially in the Birmingham and Bloomfield area, are about as healthy as they can be with the economy being on a nine-year uptick since the 2009 recession,” says Dan Hunter, deputy director of Oakland County Economic Development and Community Affairs.

Despite – or perhaps in defiance of – any rumors that the red-hot economy will be slowing down in the next year do not seem to be impacting the area’s healthy business landscape. In fact, the area is in some ways stronger than other parts of the region, says Hunter.

“Generally speaking, square footage rents and sales in the office and retail markets remain much stronger in the Birmingham Bloomfield Chamber area submarket area than in the region in general,” he says. “And there does not appear to be any spike in vacancies.”

This is certainly true in the Chamber service area, with a dizzying array of new businesses either expanding or opening with the last year. From the large-scale hotel and apartment projects in Birmingham, to the massive mixed-use development The Village of Bloomfield in Bloomfield Township, there are reasons to be optimistic about the state of business in the area.

“Downtown Birmingham continues to be a thriving downtown that offers a wide selection of retailers offering women’’s, men’s, and children’s apparel,” says Ingrid Tighe, the executive director of the Birmingham Shopping District.

The city has seen nearly 20 businesses open in downtown Birmingham over the last year alone, and there’s at least a dozen more on the horizon.

Birmingham City Manager Joe Valentine says the mix of Birmingham businesses is what keeps it vibrant. “The diversity of our retail options,” he says, “whether family owned or corporate, mixed in with entertainment and food choices, helps us standout as shopping, dining and entertainment destination.”

Bloomfield Township, meanwhile, is nearly built up, so the current business trend is redevelopment, says Bloomfield Township Director of Community Relations Greg Kowalski.

“For example, the old Strikes and Spares bowling alley on Telegraph was converted into a BMW dealership and now Equinox gym,” says Kowalski. “The Kroger on Maple is now a Nino Salvaggio. The old Bally’s was converted into an office building with a Starbucks.”

If county projections are any indication, the bright business news will continue through the next year for area. This spring, economists from the University of Michigan provided the county with its economic forecast. The outlook for the county was a rosy one, with job growth expected to continue and the economic picture remaining strong. According to the report, the county’s solid economic outlook is due primarily to the county’s educated population, a high number of professional jobs and a high standard of living.

Higher-wage industries ($75,000 or more) in Oakland County grew at the fastest rate in the last several years, followed by medium-wage sectors ($35,000 to $74,999), the growth of which was stalled somewhat by the loss of jobs in the government sector. There was weak growth in the leisure and hospitality sector, with the county adding significantly fewer jobs than forecast. The report, however, states that this slowdown is temporary and the sector will likely bounce back in the next couple years.

The unemployment rate in Oakland County is expected to decrease, from 2.9% in 2019, to 2.6% in 2021. That would tie the lowest unemployment rate in Oakland County, which was in 2000.

“The forecast projects job growth over the next three years to total approximately 10,000 new jobs each year for the 2019-2021 period, resulting in approximately 30,000 new jobs in Oakland County,” says Hunter. “They also are not forecasting a recession at this time.”

For more information on the economic forecast report www.oakgov.com/advantageoakland.