- Associated Press - Wednesday, January 18, 2017

JACKSON, Mich. (AP) - Jackson officials and entrepreneurs hope to spur growth in the area with more investments.

City officials are determined to get Jackson on the map, MLive (https://bit.ly/2k07VLZ ) reported. With the hopes of having more restaurants, more living space and more entertainment, Jackson has put its focus on the downtown area.

“Attracting and keeping millennials and educated people is key,” said Mindy Bradish-Orta, president and CEO of the Anchor Initiative, Experience Jackson and the Jackson County Chamber of Commerce. “Having an urban core that’s vibrant is going to help do that. The core of any community has to be strong in order for the rest to be strong.”

Downtowns looking to rebrand have a different look than the successful downtowns of the 20th century, which were filled with department stores and manufacturing jobs.

A handful of redevelopment projects in Jackson, including a $27 million plan to revitalize the Hayes Hotel, will set the standard for future success. The downtown landmark has sat vacant since 2003, after serving multiple uses since 1926.

The city has started offering tax abatements to help finance some larger projects. The tax abatements allow select new developments to be property tax-free for a few years.

Business owners say the tax abatement gives structures the opportunity to get off the ground and will allow a long-term tax base with new businesses and residents.

Rick LeMaster, who owns several downtown properties, said a vacant plot of land doesn’t bring in any property taxes and doesn’t do much good for the city.

“I think there’s more money to be made in downtown Jackson than anywhere in the United States,” LeMaster said. “I just think it’s undiscovered, and we’re finally starting to see that spark.”

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Information from: The Grand Rapids Press:MLive.com, https://www.mlive.com


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