Officials are hoping to boost development in Handy Township by working with two agencies that claim to do just that.

On Monday, the township’s Board of Trustees approved a three-year contract with the Economic Development Council of Livingston County, or EDC, who in turn contracts with Ann Arbor SPARK. The agencies provide services they say attract and retain businesses, therefore promoting economic development.

While several municipalities in Livingston County and the county itself have contracted with the EDC and SPARK for a number of years, Handy Township has not. Supervisor Ed Alverson says the retirement of the township’s economic development consultant left a void, prompting a meeting with the EDC and SPARK. This is the first time the township will be under contract with the EDC, which is effective at the first of the year.

From the partnership, Alverson is hoping to see something become of the “former Mitch Harris property”. The 155 acres at the southwest corner of Nicholson and West Grand River went to tax sale and will be returning to the township at the end of the month. Alverson says he’d like to see it developed for either industrial or residential use.

Handy Township Trustee Gordon Munsell was the only board member to vote against approving the contract. At an annual rate of about $3,525, Munsell felt unsure about spending money in “looking for something that’s not there”. Some county commissioners and officials in other municipalities have also questioned the expenditure, and more specifically, how it’s being allocated.

But Alverson, who at one point served as an educational representative for the EDC, says he trusts the council and that officials are trying to do what is best for Handy Township. Speaking of the township, Alverson says, "We’ve been through some hard times and what we’re looking for is to get back on track, and we’re hoping that SPARK can help us through the Economic Development Council." (DK)