JEDD questioned in Franklin Township

By Amanda Ensinger
Staff Writer

A Franklin Township trustee is concerned about the seeming lack of progress in the proposed Joint Economic Development District (JEDD).

At a recent board meeting, trustee Ralph Horn brought up the topic and wanted answers from his fellow trustees.

“How is the JEDD coming along and what is the status of this?” Horn asked.

Horn also asked if the township was still paying a consultant to stimulate growth.

Trustee Don Cook said township officials were still working on the JEDD, but said he did not want to comment further about economic development issues in a public setting.

“We are spending $2,000 a month on a consultant and residents are asking me what is going on,” Horn said.

Franklin Township has been working with Phil Honsey, a consultant, on a proposed JEDD since 2015. Last year, the township worked with Honsey for six months in an effort to move the JEDD forward and paid him $12,000. After six months no businesses signed up to be part of the JEDD, so the board put Honsey’s efforts on hold and did not renew his contract.

In early 2016, trustees then decided to start working with Honsey again in an effort to implement the JEDD and approved paying him $2,000 a month for an indefinite amount of time. Honsey’s fee includes getting businesses to agree to be a part of the proposed JEDD, as well the implementation involved in it.

As of October 2016, no businesses have signed up. Honsey and the trustees would not comment on the status of bringing businesses to the area.

“All we can say is we are working on it,” said Cook.

The township was looking at setting up the proposed JEDD in the Westland Mall area and has until Dec. 31, 2017 to get development into place.

Trustee John Fleshman said that the money the township is paying Honsey is an investment in the future of the area.

“In the end, this is an investment and it will pay off,” Fleshman said. “Look at how much this has benefited Prairie Township.”

While the township is still not sure how much money the proposed JEDD would bring in, the JEDD in neighboring Prairie Township has brought between $2 million and $3 million annually.

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