-Battle Creek is a food, automotive supply, and aviation defense community. We have lost some industry, but history tells us those industries are declining. The Fort Custer Industrial Park was created to diversify industry, and it is thriving right now, with over 13,500 employees. There is a healthy base. Companies will come and go, but we are always on the lookout for the next industry. Right now, that is Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) or drones.
Automation also is here, and is going to increase. It will mean higher dollar investments, with lower job numbers, and we have to watch for that.
-The mall is a unique challenge, in that we are not dealing with just filling the space, but a seismic shift around retail sales, nationally, regionally, and locally. At Lakeview Square, the anchors are owned separately, and the mall itself has its own manager. They have to come to a common understanding about what their retail strategy will be, and they have to be realistic. We are in constant contact with the mall stakeholders about that strategy, and they are doing well to attract uses we don’t typically think of in a mall, like entertainment facilities and office space. They are still in the middle of this process, and the mall will have a viable future, but it will not look the same as the traditional retail we are used to.