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November 17, 2014

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Members Present:          Gaffin, DeLuccia, Coughlin, DeBruyn, Zwarensteyn, VanderHeide
Members Absent:           Brandt, Clements, Gabrielse, with notification
Others Present:                Lisa Golder, Economic Development Planner; Mayor Stephen Kepley, Rich Houtteman
  1. Financial Reports
Finance Director Tom Chase presented the EDC Financial reports for the month ending September 30, 2014.This is a two-paycheck month; EDC is responsible for 25% of Golder salary. Loans are up-to-date.
There was a motion by Zwarensteyn, with support from Coughlin to accept the financial report.
                                                                                                                --Motion Carried—
  1. Minutes
There was a motion by DeBruyn, with support from Coughlin to approve the October minutes of the Kentwood EDC.
--Motion Carried—
  1. The Right Place Contribution
We have received the request for the 5 year commitment to the Right Place, Inc.Our last five year commitment was $9,000 per year.RPI is asking for $11,000 per year.We had expected the increase and were able to incorporate this into the EDC budget.There was a recognition that RPI provides services to the city that we are not able to provide, such as the attraction component to bring companies into the area from all over the world.Lisa indicated that Joel Brandt would like to see RPI supported on a year to year basis and that they should report annually prior to their receipt of the contribution.There was general discussion regarding this.
There was also discussion on the presentation last month by RPI, Inc. The labor information provided in the RPI report was surprising in its averaging of the wages of new jobs created.There is an interest in having more accurate and detailed information provided so we can get a sense of what is happening in the labor market.There was discussion about education, whether every high school student should be going to college and whether the schools re preparing students for good paying jobs out of high school.There was discussion about starting wages for manufacturing operations, and whether they receive benefits because many of these starting positions are temps.Many companies hire temps to see if they will work out or they will leave. It is difficult to keep those lower wage individuals because there are a lot of jobs in this pay range.The employees can go anywhere and make about the same.Mayor Kepley said he recently visited Lacks and the labor market was discussed.He sees his role as a conduit between businesses and the schools to try and provide some students with the opportunity to enter into the manufacturing field.He said that at Lacks there is 20% of people hired end up leaving in a short timeframe.
With respect to the RPI commitment it was suggested that the EDC maintain a list of questions to have answered by the right place—such as tracking real job growth and wages—and annually commit to visiting with the EDC to report on some of these questions.
Lisa suggested that someone from the State of Michigan EDC (Karen Hinkle) speak at one of the upcoming EDC meetings about the labor shortage and what the MEDC and the state of Michigan are doing about it.There are workforce development programs that the state has that can assist in training.
There are also apprenticeships that local companies are working with.We should look into how to encourage more of these programs throughout the state.Lisa said that she thought RPI is working on this concept through their manufacturer’s roundtables, and through the state of Michigan.It is possible that Megan Sall from RPI can provide some information on this topic as well.
A motion was made by Zwarensteyn with support from DeBruyn, to approve the annual $11,000 Right Place Inc. contribution for a period of five years, subject to an annual visit by the RPI representative to answer questions and provide more information on topics selected by the Kentwood EDC.
                                                                                                                --Motion Carried--
  1. Strategic Plan:
The EDC members picked up discussion regarding the Strategic Plan.We have discussed most of the sections.What we think is good about the plan is that there is the “one pager” which lays out the three areas of attack for the Strategic Plan—Government Relations, Business Tools, and Communications.At each EDC meetings these three items will be reported on under the topic of the Strategic Plan and addressed.There is also an individual that will be reporting on each topic—Rick Gaffin will report on the Government Relations section, Lisa will report on the “Business Tools” section and Rich Houtteman will report on the Communications section.The only change to the document is that the EDC would like to see the “development Perceptions Survey” on the One Pager document.It was noted that the process will give the EDC parameters for reporting.We can also continue to re-evaluate as needs change.After additional discussion,
A motion was made by Coughlin with support from Zwarensteyn to approve the Strategic Plan with the amendment of the addition of the development perceptions survey.
                                                                                                --Motion Carried—
The Strategic Plan will be presented to the City Commission in December or January, at a meeting of the Committee of the Whole.
  1. Other discussion
The Mall was discussed.Tony said that the mall is doing well but we have to keep working to keep Kentwood relevant.Right now is it 99.2% occupied, but there is going to be a lot of competition in the market, such as Knapps Corners and the new outlet mall in Byron Center.The PR firm will help to keep Kentwood relevant and build on the current momentum.The EDC may have a role in the selection of the PR firm as well.
The meeting was adjourned.