What does a small community look like after the coal plants shut down and leave the township without a major employer and a large portion of its tax revenue?
For Hampton Township Supervisor Terri Close, the closing of the Consumers Energy Weadock plant in 2016 and the planned closure of its Karn plant in 2023 represent an opportunity for growth.
"You can look at the closings as doom-and-gloom or you can look at it as an opportunity. I want to use this situation to grow our community and keep moving forward," Close says.
"We can take what Hampton Township has been and what it will continue to be and take it into the future."
Just what that future is remains to be seen, but that can be the exciting part. The township is developing an Economic Development and Resiliency Plan to help shape the direction of things to come.
And while the plan will incorporate hard figures such as statistics and data and facts, the township is also incorporating public input in developing a strategy for the future.
The township has issued the Hampton Township Community Survey to do just that, to glean a clear understanding of where the community stands in moving forward. The community survey is available online until May 25.
"Public input is important because for people to want to have development, for a community that they love and live in and raise their families in, they have to be on board with these ideas," Close says.
While it’s too early to tell what the future of Hampton Township could look like, Close points to the food and agriculture sector as one potential source of tax revenue and living wage jobs. But whatever it is, replacing the tax revenue and jobs lost by the exit of Consumers Energy is key.
The survey and eventual plan will help identify ways to do just that.
"If we don’t grow our community then we’ll stay stagnant and continue to have empty buildings," Close says.
"If we don’t have a plan for the future, we won’t grow."
The Hampton Township Community Survey is available online.
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