MARQUETTE — Marquette residents began to think last year that the city would be a good location for a SmartZone to attract high-tech investment and jobs. The state is allowing existing SmartZones to sponsor the creation of three new SmartZone satellites.
Marquette intends to become one of them by serving as a satellite of the MTEC SmartZone that involves Houghton, Hancock and Michigan Tech. The Marquette Local Finance Development Authority has already applied to the Michigan Economic Development Corporation to do so.
“They’re now looking for the more detailed plan, which is what we approved today,” Marquette Local Development Finance Authority chair Fred Taccolini said. “We’re feeling very confident we’ll be one of the three satellite SmartZones selected. All indications that we’re getting are positive, and they’ve been really impressed with the effort we’ve put forth so far.”
Scott MacInnes now works part-time for the MTEC SmartZone. When he was Houghton’s city manager, he personally set up the tax capture system that generates the money to run the SmartZone.
“I’ve been able to show them what Houghton did,” MacInnes said. “We went through this process back in 2000 and were very successful at it, so I’ve been able to provide those types of things.”
At a special meeting Thursday afternoon, the Marquette LDFA also approved the tax capture system that will provide the revenue needed to operate the satellite. The proposal to create the SmartZone satellite still needs to make its way through the City Commission.
“At that point, they will schedule a public forum, and that’s always required,” Taccolini said. “We will give all local taxpayers the opportunity to participate in that. If there are no other objections, it’ll be sent on to the state.”
“This is moving very smoothly,” MacInnes said. “We’re far ahead of anybody else in the state of Michigan right now; we’re setting the bar and I’m very pleased with the process.”
The City Commission will likely hold the public hearing on the SmartZone satellite in October. The LDFA’s next regular board meeting is on October 20th.