Center Line City Councilman Aaron Delikta, 23, is a lifelong resident with a degree in political science from Michigan State University. He defeated veteran Councilman Ron Lapham in the November City Council race.

Center Line City Councilman Aaron Delikta, 23, is a lifelong resident with a degree in political science from Michigan State University. He defeated veteran Councilman Ron Lapham in the November City Council race.

Photo by Brian Louwers


Center Line looks to young leadership, development in 2020

By: Brian Louwers | Warren Weekly | Published January 3, 2020

 Collin Mays, 29, previously with the Southeast Michigan Community Alliance Michigan Works!, started work as Center Line’s director of economic development on Dec. 9. He’ll transition from workforce development to economic development as the city forges ahead into 2020.

Collin Mays, 29, previously with the Southeast Michigan Community Alliance Michigan Works!, started work as Center Line’s director of economic development on Dec. 9. He’ll transition from workforce development to economic development as the city forges ahead into 2020.

Photo by Brian Louwers

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CENTER LINE — An influx of youthful vision tempered with veteran leadership might be just what it takes to help make Center Line a destination for small businesses and the families that will support them.

Billed as a small town at “The Heart of Metro Detroit,” Center Line enters 2020 with its leaders eyeing investment in the city’s downtown district at 10 Mile Road and Van Dyke Avenue. They’re also looking to continue offering amenities that draw young families, inspiring them to move to Center Line and spend money locally.

“That’s part of our focus on places and events. Cattleman’s will open in 2020. The (Center Line Independence) Festival was extended, the carnival on Van Dyke. It’s just all about trying to implement everything we’ve been building over the last four years,” Center Line City Manager Dennis Champine said Dec. 23. “My hope is it will finally come to fruition in 2020.”  

Part of the team calling the shots will be newly elected Center Line City Councilman Aaron Delikta. At just 23 years old, he’s a lifelong resident with a degree in political science from Michigan State University who defeated veteran Councilman Ron Lapham in the November City Council race.

“It really means a lot that the city put its trust in me and they said they want a younger voice, a younger mindset on the council,” Delikta said Dec. 23. “I think next year we’ll be doing some big things that I’m really excited about doing research on. We’re really focusing on trying to make the city more appealing to business owners. We just hired an economic development coordinator. He’s a young guy, too.”

Meet Collin Mays. He was previously with the Southeast Michigan Community Alliance Michigan Works! and started work as Center Line’s director of economic development on Dec. 9. Named to the Crain’s Detroit Business 2019 list of “Twenty in Their 20s” at 29 years old, he’ll transition from workforce development to economic development as the city forges ahead into 2020.

“I’m excited to be here. I have a lot of initiatives I’m hoping to help out with in terms of bringing new businesses to the city,” Mays said Dec. 26. “The biggest focus for me is making sure our current business owners understand how valued they are and how much we appreciate them continuing to serve our community. They could certainly go anywhere.”

In Center Line, Mays said the focus gravitates toward small businesses. He wants to roll out a program that regularly recognizes individual small businesses in early 2020, showcasing what they bring to the table and creating an environment that helps the city’s small businesses grow.

“It’s really trying to figure out what the community wants. Once we have a better understanding of that, it’s just being able to implement it,” Mays said. “For me, speaking from a millennial point of view, again, it’s going to be all about small businesses. When you talk about my generation, it’s a huge emphasis on the entrepreneurial field.”

Mom-and-pop stores, food halls and family-friendly activities like fowling, axe throwing or feather bowling are being eyed as potential drivers of local economic growth.

“All those different types of activities, we want to bring to Center Line and we want to make it so our residents have access to those activities, and they can go out and enjoy it,” Mays said. “I think a lot of residents feel that way. They don’t want to travel too far to do anything. We have a lot of great restaurants right here in Center Line. We want to highlight them.”

When it comes to luring new investments, Delikta said one key will be finding businesses that are the right fit for the community. That may differ from what’s offered in places like Ferndale, Royal Oak and St. Clair Shores.

“We don’t want to be just like them, but we want to make something similar where people will come to Center Line and want to shop and visit for the day. I really want to help work toward that,” Delikta said.

“I think that having the young people getting more involved is definitely great. I’m actually going to be appointed to the DDA next month. I’m really excited about that,” Delikta added. “I want to hear what the DDA has in mind, what they would like to see done, what they’d like to do, and put a young 23-year-old, recent college graduate perspective into that.”

Champine said having the city’s political and administrative leadership “on the same page” is a positive thing going forward into 2020.

“There’s a lot of benefit to having intelligent, you know, energetic young people coming in to bring a sort of view on things,” Champine said. “I think it’s a strong indication that the people of Center Line and the leadership of Center Line are on the same page as far as what needs to be done to bring forth economic development and fresh new ideas.

“Youth is a part of that,” Champine added. “Everybody understands what needs to be done here. The voters voted in Aaron, I think, because they understand it’s time for us to really start listening to that generation and understanding what it is they want for the future of Center Line, and in doing that they’re going to draw more young people to our community.”

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