STATE OF THE CITY: Mayor points to economic gains

Photos by Milan Eagle Media Milan Mayor Michael Armitage.

Photos by Milan Eagle Media
Milan Mayor Michael Armitage.

By Milan Eagle Media

In January, Mayor Michael Armitage gave his “State of the City Address” to the city council.
Armitage mentioned the Milan Flour Mills Corporation as a recent success story in Milan. An investor was thinking of buying property in Detroit, but looked at the location on Pennsylvania Street in Milan. In just a few hours talking to city officials, the investor decided to put his business in Milan.
Armitage pointed to the restoration in downtown Milan and said “This promises to be a game-changer for downtown Milan.”  The mayor commented that the $5.2 million renovation is resulting in 15 rebuilt apartments and eight storefronts.
New tenants will be moving into the renovated apartments starting in about March, he added.
The “Main Street” program is another project Armitage pointed to as a sign of progress in downtown Milan. The addition of public Wi-Fi internet, the creation of Tolan Square, brighter lighting, and new mailboxes are making the downtown a more inviting place, he said.
“An important decision will be made next month in Lansing as to whether we will be moved to a “Select Member” of the program, which would open up nearly $200,000 worth of in-kind resources from the state to help our downtown,” Armitage declared.
In the next two years, Armitage stated he plans to bring street projects to the city council for approval, including Canfield, Gay, the East Main alley, and E. Lewis.
The 4,000 square foot pavilion in Wilson Park is already going ahead, Armitage stated. Besides private donations, the pavilion is going ahead with a partnership with Washtenaw Community Council where students in construction trades are learning while working in Milan.
To increase staffing in the Milan Police Dept., Armitage said he plans to recommend an additional full-time officer, using funds that were previously spent on part-time officers. “With the difficulties we face recruiting part-time officers, and the training expense associated with these hires, this change is necessary,” he added.
Armitage pointed to the need for long-term planning for big-ticket items. “By identifying our goals and needs, we can work to achieve them. Through this process, known projects such as water softening and more parking downtown can be achieved,” Armitage stated.
Stores and businesses on Dexter Street will soon be able to join a “Corridor Improvement Authority,” Armitage said. It will be similar to the Downtown Development Authority. Businesses in the Dexter Street area will be able to choose improvements they want and come up with plans for funding.
The mayor mentioned that last year, the city started allowing residents to pay tax bills with credit cards.
Pleased with the fact that Jaytec was able to hire 50 additional employees, thanks to grant money from the Michigan Strategic Fund. The new employees were mostly people who were on unemployment before they were hired. By working at Jaytec, they started earning about $37,000 per year on average.
According to Armitage, “the paperwork was cumbersome” to get this grant money, but it was worth it because of the economic benefits to the city.
The opening of JR’s Restaurant and the Bakery show economic improvement, too, he said. “”These are clear signs to those that want to invest in Milan that not only are we open for business, but our residents will support  you,” he said.

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