Battle Creek

Financial incentive offered to encouarge restaurant development in downtown Battle Creek

A $200,000 incentive is in play to attract a new restaurant which would locate in or near the Battle Creek's downtown district.

The funds will be made available to the winner of a Request for Proposals put out on Dec. 21 by Battle Creek Unlimited.

BCU has previously used RFP’s to attract new businesses and the most recent request is an example of a more unconventional approach the organization has been taking to reach beyond city boundaries to let people know about opportunities to set up shop in the community, says Joe Sobieralski, BCU’s president and CEO.

“I think we are really open to any and all ideas,” he says. “We wouldn’t turn down a chain restaurant. We are looking for anything that’s new or trendy that would complement what already exists in the downtown area.”

BCU launched a similar RFP in late 2017 which resulted in the decision by New Holland Brewing Company and another smaller brewery to open locations downtown. Both businesses are set to open this year.

“Our economy was founded on food. We are home to numerous food and beverage companies in the area, and our community is growing,” Sobieralski says. “Revitalization of downtown Battle Creek will accelerate with the restoration of Heritage Tower, which will feature 85 market-rate residential units and retail space on the bottom two floors, a DoubleTree Hilton Hotel, and completion of the Record Box, which will feature event space, office space, and house the second brewery.”  
The amount of money designated for the latest RFP is the same amount used for the 2017 RFP.

“It’s a number that’s meaningful,” Sobieralski says. “It’s not huge, but if you’re looking to establish a brewery or restaurant, it’s not small enough to be insignificant.”

In addition to complementing, rather than competing with existing downtown eating establishments, Sobieralski says BCU would like the new restaurant to offer lunch and dinner at a median price point.

“I think what we’re missing is maybe more of a sit-down lunch with lower-cost meals. I think we’re missing something in between the upper echelon and median price point that’s family-friendly,” he says. “So maybe lunch could be $12 and under per plate and dinner could be anywhere between $10 and $15.

“We are making a heavy push to get to restaurant groups that have a presence here and elsewhere.”

Part of the pitch to lure new businesses in is focusing on the number of workers, both at Kellogg’s downtown campus and at Fort Custer Industrial Park, who have disposable income that they spend at Battle Creek businesses.

“Downtown Battle Creek is a prime location for a proprietor who wants to establish themselves,” Sobieralski says. “Competition is low, and the demand is high. 

“We want business people to know that if they’re looking to something in Battle Creek and it doesn’t necessarily fit the RFP parameters, we still would like to talk to you.”

Read more articles by Jane Simons.

Jane Simons is a freelance reporter and writer with more than 20 years of experience and also is the owner of In So Many Words based in Battle Creek. She is the Project Editor for On the Ground Battle Creek.
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