Downtown Battle Creek is turning a corner. The area has seen a recent surge in economic activity – despite a pandemic. In just a couple years, downtown has attracted over $100m in investments and projects – three-quarters of which are private funds. Some of those projects continue today. Others will begin in the coming months.
Battle Creek’s momentum shift is not by accident. Downtown redevelopment is a pillar of BCU’s five-year strategic plan. Traditionally, BCU has long developed and managed the Fort Custer Industrial Park, home to 85 companies and 13,600 jobs across 3,000 acres. Except for a few instances, BCU has been limited to the industrial park and the adjacent areas covering the TIF district.
For the industrial park’s health and job growth to continue – and for economic prosperity more generally – BCU recognized the need to redevelop downtown. BCU is now deploying its resources in new ways to generate economic growth in a nod to urbanization, walkability and placemaking. New programs and initiatives are making way for restaurants, breweries, entertainment, and residential options.
One initiative is the Real Estate Improvement Fund. The program fills financing gaps for building owners and/or prospective tenants. Dollars go toward real property and fixed assets; the investments and improvements remain downtown. So far, projects have leveraged 10 times the awarded grant dollars in outside private funding.
Downtown Battle Creek continues to accelerate. BCU is excited for what happens next.