Study reveals city a model for economic development

Times-Herald Newspapers

DEARBORN – Businesses can succeed in Dearborn.

That is the result of a Nov. 16 study by the University of Michigan-Dearborn Center for Innovation Research naming Dearborn as a premier community for investors looking to do business.

The study named the city as one of 21 in the state considered premier locations for economic growth. The projects begins annually in May, and data is entered during the summer.

Dearborn also made the list last year as a four-star city.

Research Center Director Tim Davis said city officials recognize the importance of building a community that offers opportunities for businesses seeking to grow or expand. He referred to Dearborn as a “deal-closer,” meaning the city works with existing small businesses and becomes a key part in attracting new opportunities.

“I believe the participating communities and places that care enough about business care enough to measure what they’re doing,” Davis said. “Four- and five-star cities have endorsements that are ready to do this.”

Mayor John O’Reilly Jr. said in a statement the growth reflects the positive attitude businesses have in the city’s future, including an announcement in July that Dearborn-based steelmaker Severstal North America planned to add about 260 jobs after the company was awarded a $730 million loan by the U.S Department of Energy for automotive steel manufacturing.

Dearborn Economic and Community Development Director Barry Murray said he was thrilled with the five-star rating, and the city is proud to be in good company with other communities across the state. He said city officials are looking at ways to build on the rating, including exploring businesses growth.

“We will still continue to recruit companies,” he said. “But we will have a strategy for seeking them out.”

The study, which focused on entrepreneurship, also listed other communities in Michigan as five-star cities, including Ann Arbor, Southfield and Troy as locations with higher numbers of business improvement and reinvestment. The study used data provided by public records to provide a six-factor index of criteria, including business clustering, incentives, growth, policies, community and education.

About one-third of the counties in the state participated in the study.

“I had communities from 30 counties,” Davis said. “We started by contacting 200 communities across the state. In the end we had 30 of 83 counties.”

O’Reilly said he was happy to learn about the city’s ranking.

“I think its good to send that message,” he said. “The timing couldn’t be better.” He added he will gladly welcome future businesses.

(Daniel Heraty can be reached at