News of Amazon bringing a product fulfillment center to Livonia pumped energy into the community as the company’s plans became public on Dec. 20.
The Livonia Chamber of Commerce office received a bunch of phone calls with curious inquiries. Many excited residents and business owners circulated articles about the news on social media. In many corners of town, you could sense Livonians felt pride that such a significant company is bringing at least 1,000 jobs to Livonia.
If all goes according to plan, Amazon will open a newly constructed, one million-square-foot building on the corner of Eckles and Amrhein next fall with 1,000 employees. That would immediately make Amazon one of the city’s top 10 employers.
This is great for Livonia, but it is also great for our neighboring communities in western Wayne County and southern Oakland County. These new workers and vendors to the Amazon site will spark new shopping and dining activity, and attract some new residents and spin-off businesses to our region.
The Amazon announcement is exciting, but it is just the latest in a series of sizable economic development projects coming to our city. In 2016, Livonia saw a busy year highlighted by the following:
Residential real estate transactions continued to surge in Livonia, despite a reduction in available housing inventory. RealComp reports that Livonia home sales closings climbed 3 percent, median prices rose 6.1 percent, and days on market went from 33 to 28 days in the first 11 months of 2016, compared to same period in 2015.
MASCO, the parent company for a number of home improvement products, is nearing completion of a new 90,000-square-foot building near Schoolcraft College to serve as its new corporate headquarters.
Ford Motor Company, the city’s largest taxpayer and employer, continues to add employees as it expands its footprint in Livonia. The automaker leased another 750,000 square-foot building to store parts on Schoolcraft east of Middlebelt. Two additional buildings, totaling 900,000 square feet, are being constructed near the new Ford site.
McLaren Engineering completed a $23 million project this year to expand and modernize its automotive operation on Eight Mile Road, and expanded its workforce at the site from 80 to some 200 employees.
Three new hotels are in the works in Livonia, in response to a spike in overnight stays at Livonia’s existing hotels.
A $12 million renovation progressed at the former GM Powertrain plant on Middlebelt north of Plymouth to make way for four new industrial tenants – and a number of jobs – at property now known as the Livonia Distribution Center.
When you combine the Livonia Distribution Center with the Amazon development, there is two million square feet of new business activity at two long-shuttered, former GM sites. It continues a recent trend of refreshing Livonia with redevelopment.
This list just names a few Livonia highlights from 2016, but it provides an impressive reading on the economic growth in our city and region. It also fuels optimism heading into 2017 as we look forward to what’s coming next.
Dan West is the president of the Livonia Chamber of Commerce. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.