The recent controversy with Chick-fil-A got me thinking about communities that are turning away businesses based on ideology or political positions. I doubt many in the south suburbs or Northwest Indiana are doing so. We’re all working to attract businesses.
Take Lansing, for example. Lansing has been focused on welcoming new community-oriented businesses to town. In fact, we think we’ve got the perfect location for not only Chick-fil-A, but perhaps also a Cracker Barrel, T.G.I. Friday’s, Famous Dave’s, Texas Corral, Corner Bakery and others, too.
The old real estate adage about “location, location, location” is undeniable. Fortunately, Lansing is optimally positioned. A community of 28,000-plus, we’re at the confluence of seven interstate highways. In fact, on I-80/94 — one of the busiest stretches of highway in the nation — we have some 180,000 vehicles a day traveling past some of the most prime real estate in the village.
We’re also served by a major intersection at Torrence Avenue that averages some 30,000 vehicles per day. Even our downtown Ridge Road area tops out at more than 22,000 cars per day in traffic counts. Moreover, there is available real estate frontage on all of those roadways.
Lansing offers more than just “location." Our socio-economic data looks good, too. U.S. Census Bureau reports show we’re better positioned than many other towns in the bistate region. A diverse community with a diverse tax base, Lansing’s indicators are moving in the right direction — increasing household and median incomes, per capita income and educational attainment levels; stable population numbers; and lower-than-average energy costs.
The Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning has forecast that Lansing’s population and employment base will continue to increase, which bodes well for our economic future. All correlate to greater disposable income and more buying — and spending — power.
Not only do we have the traffic counts, visibility and the stats to prompt local site selectors of regional and national chains to sit up and take notice, but we also have incentives for many sites. Along the I-80/94, Torrence Avenue and Ridge Road corridors, many parcels are within tax increment financing districts. TIFs provide government assistance with certain redevelopment costs and other investment expenses. We’re thrilled to be welcoming the community-oriented Loubie’s Pancake House soon to a newly expanded TIF District.
In addition, Lansing has a ready market. Hundreds of residents indicated in a recent survey what restaurants and retailers they’d like to patronize in town. With that input, we’re prioritizing initiatives and making some positive changes. We're updating regulatory policies to standardize and streamline the approval process; assembling land and identifying incentives in areas with the greatest market potential; targeting resources and developing forecasts and a creative vision for the community, working to add value to spur new investment.
All in all, we’ve readied ourselves so Lansing is known as “open for business.” We are not turning anybody away; we are turning them on to all the great amenities we have to offer.
Kristi DeLaurentiis is director of planning and development for the village of Lansing. The opinions are the writer's.