New Business Improvement Zone Law to Benefit Michigan Urban Districts

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Gov. Rick Snyder signed a bill Wednesday to enhance the state’s business improvement zones. Called BIZ, the zones are funded by businesses via a dedicated increase in local property values. The added funds are used for capital improvements, landscaping upgrades, graffiti removal, and public safety.

Sponsored by state Sen. Mike Kowall, R-White Lake, the measure modifies existing laws by streamlining the process to establish a zone, allowing for an enforcement mechanism on the lien of unpaid assessments, and to reduce the likelihood that assessable property owners will dissolve a zone.

“The big one is that is that it authorizes business improvement zones to merge with other zones, because there’s a lot of small, scattered ones around downtown Detroit,” Kowall says.

Kowall cites the Downtown Detroit Partnership’s Clean Downtown program, established in 2006, as a good example of what can be achieved when businesses come together to improve the surrounding community. “They clean 39 miles of sidewalks, 72 bus shelters, and maintain some of the kiosks that are down in the city,” Kowall says. The zones provide “a method to come together in a very organized fashion to achieve common goals.”

Kowall says that the modified law provides support to several of the state’s core cities —Detroit, Flint, Pontiac, Bay City, and Saginaw — that need help right now.

“We can’t let them go by the wayside,” Kowall says. “That’s not an option. We need to give them all of the resources necessary to be able to go in and make these improvements.”

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