A research study that focuses on things such as growth and investments rated Farmington as a five-star community. The downtown district plays a significant role in the city’s vitality.

A research study that focuses on things such as growth and investments rated Farmington as a five-star community. The downtown district plays a significant role in the city’s vitality.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

Farmington recognized for supporting businesses

By: Mark Vest | Farmington Press | Published February 20, 2024


FARMINGTON — In recent years, Farmington has been making some noise when it comes to being recognized for economic development.

Along with being named as a Michigan Economic Development Corporation Redevelopment Ready Community, Farmington has been recognized as a five-star community in multiple University of Michigan-Dearborn studies.

Farmington’s most recent distinction came when UM-Dearborn released the results of a 2023 study.

Farmington was recognized for successfully contributing to Michigan’s entrepreneurial growth and economic development in an eCities study conducted by researchers at iLabs, UM-Dearborn’s Office of Engagement and Impact.

Kevin Christiansen, who is the city’s Planning and Building Department director, estimated that Farmington has earned a five-star distinction every year since 2018, most recently when the results of the 2023 study were released.

“Farmington is very thrilled that our focus on our business community, its economic success, and the vitality (and) vibrancy continues as we’re recognized as a five-star community,” Christiansen said.

The eCities study analyzed publicly available data from 277 communities from 54 counties in Michigan.

Researchers focused on five-year changes in property values, community assets and tax rates, which can demonstrate the growth, investments and cost of doing business within the community, according to a release from the city.

“For example, over the five-year period of 2018-2022, these communities increased their capital assets by an average of 3.42% per year by investments such as park and road improvements, new police and fire equipment, and water system enhancements,” the release states.

Aside from Farmington, 89 other communities across the state received a five-star distinction.

“Each year, the eCities project aims to highlight the successes and continued commitment of cities and townships to grow business and support entrepreneurship within their communities,” iLabs Project Manager Kari Kowalski stated in the release.

From the perspective of Farmington Downtown Development Authority Executive Director Kate Knight, things such as the eCities study help tell the story of “what’s really happening here.”

“eCities is a slice that goes across the entire community, so it’s a good way to measure, using the data that they do and the comparison versus last year, when we received the same recognition for doing the right thing and continuing to do the right thing,” Knight said. “Investing in places like downtowns in your communities is a proven economic development strategy, so we are going to keep looking forward, and we have a robust fleet of public-private projects in 2024, 2025, that we’re excited to accomplish.”

As an example of how well things are going, Knight said that the vacancy rate in downtown Farmington is “very low.”

She said the national women’s apparel franchise Apricot Lane is slated to open a location in Farmington’s downtown district, potentially in mid-March.

She said that Apricot Lane came in with Realtors and commercial brokers from Texas.

“They looked around (and) they liked what they saw,” Knight said. “They saw potential, upside, investment, a good value proposition, and then they had their own data.”

According to Christiansen, there are 1,800 local units of government in 83 counties in Michigan. And although only 277 communities from 54 counties were assessed as part of the study, the ones that were analyzed are home to 71% of the state’s population and 86% of Michigan’s commercial property, according to the release.

One of the ways that Farmington helps to create a successful business environment is by involving them in activities and events throughout the year, according to Christiansen.

“The city, the city’s Downtown Development Authority, the Chamber of Commerce, the business community as a whole and other stakeholders continue to work together to realize the success of the city’s business community and the support for business in Farmington,” Christiansen said.

According to the release, communities that have had the strongest growth in business development over the past five years, while controlling the cost of doing business, are designated as four- and five-star communities.

“We’re very pleased to receive this recognition for 2023 and look forward to the success of the city’s business community this year and continued recognition in 2024 as a five-star community by the U of M Dearborn’s iLabs eCities program,” Christiansen said.