Southfield enters five-year automation Alley Smart Zone extension agreement

By: Kayla Dimick | Southfield Sun | Published August 8, 2014

SOUTHFIELD — At their meeting on July 21, the Southfield City Council voted in favor to enter a five-year extension agreement of the Automation Alley SmartZone.

All existing Smart Zones are required by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) to seek an extension and modify their initial agreements.

The cities of Southfield and Troy entered into a joint agreement in 2003, establishing the Certified Technology Park designations in both cities.

The goal of Automation Alley is to foster economic development and grow innovation in the Southfield and metro Detroit area, according to Michael Manion, Southfield community relations manager.

“For us, it means when a high-tech company is looking for a place to relocate, locate or expand, Oakland County Smart Zone is in the running,” City Councilman Ken Siver said.

Manion also said the agreement also provides programs and services to the technology business community through  entrepreneurship, increasing exporting, attracting foreign direct investment, developing high-tech talent, supporting advanced manufacturing, and helping technology-driven businesses of all sizes succeed.

“We’re very confident it’s going to be a big benefit to our business community,” said Rochelle Katz-Freeman, Southfield business development manager. “We’ve always been part of Automation Alley,  so it’s just going to bring it closer to our people right now. It’s winning scenario for all of us.”

The city will be using $50,000 from its LDFA tax capture to finance the extension.

“It’s absolutely essential for continued economic development,” Siver said. “To me, there was no question about renewing that agreement. I think we would have been foolish not to.”

Southfield is also exploring the option of a 15-year extension with other regional partners.

“Hopefully it’ll pan out with the 15-year extension; that’s our ultimate goal. We’re very pleased to secure a 5 year goal, so we are taking it one thing at a time,” Katz-Freeman said.

For more information on this project, call Southfield Business Development at (248) 796-4160.