A Community Corporation

We, and I mean all of us really are sitting back and bemoaning the fact that our production and manufacturing jobs are being sent out of the Country by the multinational corporations and we expect Government somehow to step in and fix the problem and bring us back the prosperity and jobs that we once had.


I have news!


Its not going to happen.


Government, Bankers nor Multi National Corporations have our best interests in mind, quite the opposite really, they both want to strip us of every cent and every thing that we own and so far nothing has happened that is going to stop them.


The sad thing and also the thing that encourages me is that we really do have the power and the ability to change things and to bring back some of what we have lost over the last 40 years.


When you think about your investments what comes to mind? You are getting 1 or 2% return at the bank which is nothing really, a little more in your 401k. You have your money invested with bankers and investment houses, its in your 401k  and someone 2,000 miles away is buying up stocks in the corporations that are sending your jobs and the jobs your kids will never have now overseas, we are funding our own destruction.


I say it needs to be turned around and the only way it is going to happen is by people taking control in their own communities and affecting the piece of the world they are living in.


I would suggest a community corporation, what I mean by that is say 500 people each investing 1,000 dollars. Its not a lot but most people can come up with that. Set up a corporation, each person has one vote. Not a vote for each share a vote for each person who owns a share or any number of shares. The idea is to get numbers of people involved.


Those 500 people vote to elect a board, the board of directors hires a manager to run the business the corporation wants to buy or start up.


So now you have a corporation with 500 members and $500,000.00 and you purchase a gas station for example. Now give each person a discount card so they can get a discount on the gas and other stuff they buy from the station they own a piece of.


That is 500 people and their families who are now spending their money in a business that they own a piece of and that is 500 people who are not buying their gas at the Wal-Mart station. You want to take back your community from the multi national corporations that are sucking the life and profit out of your hometown that is how you start to do it.

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Everyone is at the Beach

We have all of these people at the beach but do they go downtown? Probably not so much. There is such a long stretch from the beach to the House of Flavors I doubt they are going to walk it, and it’s just not that interesting of a walk along Ludington Avenue (Loomis is better) so how do you draw them in and bring them along?

The one thing that comes to mind is bike rentals at the beach that come with coupons or discount packs to encourage them to come into town and visit downtown merchants. What are you selling to the tourists? As a community what are we selling to them? If we are going to sell them an experience and a week filled with memories that makes them want to spend money and also to come back can we really rely on luck or fate that they will come into your shop on their own or should we direct their experiences by the way we lay out the community and in the way we offer goods services and events?

On the Bike rentals, here is another type of business that is strictly seasonal but you want to make it easy for the person doing it to succeed and make enough money to make it worth their time to do it and to come back every year. Again, I’d say a small percentage of sales to be able to use a corner of the parking lot at the end of Ludington Avenue to put a small shack like the coffee shack at Save a Lots lot and racks for the bikes so they can be secured at night.

The service, having it there is more important than what the City might realize in the vendor income.

Back to directing the experience of Ludington. One of the biggest pet peeves I have is the cost of being at most tourist trap type of locales, I think the question is how do you get the people on the beach downtown to spend some money, have some fun and stay within their budget? So just in kicking around the coupon book that comes with the bike rental you get a 50 cent cone at the House of Flavors, You get two free arcade games plays at Backstage Hobbies and Games, a good price on something tasty at Best Choice Markets, a buy one get one coffee at Roldencia’s (sp?) a special fudge or candy item at Kilwins.

Move them off from the beach and into the stores by a coordinated marketing effort. The main idea in my mind is that you get them to walk through the doors when they might have otherwise left the beach and gone to the campground without having gone anywhere else.

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Ludington Recreation Block

The block where the old Ludington Recreation was located is crying for development but I am afraid that we’ll get an office suite or something else that is not retail. We need to draw people into the downtown to work, but also to play and live, it is just not vibrant but it could be.

First thing is that I would make sure that the old Newberg’s Shell Station is left i place, the building has too much character to rear it down and the current business there is just what the block and downtown needs. After tearing down the rest of the block all the way to the corner I would put up a new building with an early 20th century look to it that spans the whole block.

The storefronts in the building would be about 1,000 square feet, say a 20×50 and they would set back from the avenue and be in line with the old Shell Station. It would make a great green area and encourage people to linger downtown. Wonderful place for a hot dog vendor, or someone selling balloons. The end of the block at the Western corner I would make a line of smaller shop sites that were in the 10×10 to 10×20 size.

If someone wanted to specialize in sunglasses how much room would they really need? The rent? will the kicker is that I would charge say 15% of total sales. There is an inflated sense of the value of the real estate in downtown Ludington and the cost of the rent basically kills many businesses that cannot make a year round commitment to high rent in a business environment that is really only profitable 5 months of the year for many.

The poor off-season business climate also keeps us from bringing in and encouraging businesses that would offer a service or product that would benefit the community as a whole but they can’t make it year around or it may be a business that should only be open 6 months out of the year full-time. A percentage of sales makes it easier for a business to stay in place during the lean months of the year, makes it easier for new businesses to start-up.

If you want a vibrant and lively downtown then an eclectic group of businesses is a vital part of making that happen. Now a 1,000 square foot store is not much but it can be enough to provide a start, and an income for a new small business owner. I would put an apartment above each of those businesses and make that available to the proprietors first.

So now you have maybe 20 new storefronts and maybe a dozen living quarters for these new business owners. If they are living there and are vested in their businesses they are going to be more involved in all aspects of the downtown including shopping in the stores near them and running events.

Not having a bowling alley in the downtown area is I think a great loss and we should have that and other types of businesses that draw people into town for recreation, but I would not put it on the main avenue, not anymore. That is what I would do with the SW 200 block of West Ludington Avenue.

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I registered Ludington.Biz when the domain when the .Biz extension ws launched and envisioned it as a hub for Ludington related business activity and after putting basic information for about a thousand businesses online I didn’t develop it in the way I first thought I would.

I like interactive sites and content and I thought that the site should be more than just a listing of businesses that were in the area. The technology has caught up to what I had first wanted to see the site become and I am hopeful that I can develop the vision more fully.

The Blog is the home of my ramblings outside the constraints of traditional press and the limits of the printed word on paper. I have lived in Ludington most of my life and have a lot of thoughts and opinions about the way the community has evolved and what I think could be done to change it hopefully for the better.

I’m going to approach this in the fashion that if I had just won a 200 million dollar lottery and what I would do in the County to make the changes and build the things that I would like to see happen.

As always I appreciate comments and feedback

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