Hancock City Council establishes Industrial Development District

Nick Wilson/Daily Mining Gazette Councilor Lytle (second from left) speaks at the City Council meeting on Wednesday night. Listening to Lytle are (from left): Ron Blau, Rick Freeman Jr., Paul Labine, Kurt Rickard, Whitney Warstler, and John Haeussler.

HANCOCK — On Wednesday, the Hancock City Council gathered in City Hall for its final meeting of the year.

First on the agenda was a public hearing to discuss Resolution 21-24, which would establish Industrial Development District No. 1 for the Hancock Business and Technology Park.

This hearing was a preliminary step in a process that could lead to the creation of an industrial business and technology park on a 40-acre parcel of land on Lake Annie Road.

Establishing the Industrial Development District would allow the city to offer a tax abatement, or property tax incentive, to encourage a business to establish on the property. Interested companies could then submit proposals to the City Council for evaluation.

“The point of this resolution tonight is to make the possibility of an incentive available, which would still then be negotiated with the city, with proposals,” summarized Councilor John Haeussler. “The purpose of doing this resolution is it’s a step in the process to make an abatement a possibility, not a guarantee.”

The establishment of an industrial business and technology park could bring economic benefits, such as job creation and tax revenue, to Hancock

“It’s primarily designed for manufacturing type operations, there are a few exceptions for technology in very specific carve outs, but it’s primarily for manufacturing. It allows for the granting of an abatement of 50% of the local taxes,” explained Jeff Ratcliffe, executive director of the Keweenaw Economic Development Alliance (KEDA).

Few members of the public offered comments on the subject, but one attendee said that he was in contact with multiple companies that might be interested in developing the site.

Later in the meeting, the council adopted the resolution by a vote of 6-1. Councilor Will Lytle cast the only opposition vote.

Lytle explained his position to the rest of the council, saying, “If the business is established enough to build, then they should be able to pay their fair share of taxes. There’s already a lot of federal, state and local money going into this and there’s businesses popping up all the time around the city that are not able to get this abatement. Overall, the community would be better served if they didn’t offer these types of abatements.”

The council’s adoption of the resolution does not guarantee that an abatement will be offered or that the land will be developed. But it does give the council the option of offering an abatement in the future. The council’s plans for future action on the Industrial Development District were not discussed at the meeting.

In addition to this resolution, the council also appointed Faith Morrison to the Hancock Transit Local Advisory Council, and approved a wage increase of 2.75% for city staff members who are not represented by unions.

Lastly, the council unanimously approved the acceptance of a Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) grant in the amount of $90,000 for the Hancock Waterfront Shoreline project. The funds will be used to manage erosion on the city’s waterfront.

The next Hancock City Council meeting will take place on Jan. 19, 2022.


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