Acme Is Open For Business
When the Acme Business Association first formed in 2009, it was a community divided. A battle to bring a Meijer store to the township had resulted in strong opposition, a recall campaign of so-called “anti-growth” township officials, lawsuits, investigations and bad feelings among residents and business owners about how the area should grow.
Since the opening of the store in early November – and the end of a nearly 15-year controversy – the anchor of a 180-acre Grand Traverse Town Center on M-72 is ready for some neighbors, and so is the business community.
“I think we are really on the cusp of things happening here,” said Acme Business Association President Rob Evina.
The association (discoveracme.com) – now 70 businesses strong – works to promote and protect Acme’s business climate as well as helps small businesses consider Acme.
“We know companies are now looking at a second location on this side of town,” said Evina.
Oryana Natural Foods Market was one of those, though it has since pulled back on those plans. Even so, the market remains “excited about future prospects in Acme,” according to General Manager Steve Nance.
Traverse City State Bank recently announced plans to open its fifth branch, this time in Acme Township.
“We’re very pleased to be opening a new branch this summer on the growing east side of Traverse City,” said CEO Connie Deneweth. “This is an ideal location to service our customers and growing business community.”
Floor Covering Brokers is another business that cites the growth on the east side of Traverse City in driving its expansion plans. The recently-opened second location in Acme is necessary to meet “the fast-growing markets in the north and east of our Traverse City location,” said owner Dennis Lauterbach.
National companies are also sniffing around, Evina confirmed. “The zoning administrator has had quite a few inquires. We’re starting to see some commitments … that’s exactly what we’re striving for. That will help this side of town grow.”
With the burgeoning business activity, residential developers are showing up as well. Housing is a “huge issue” in making Acme a viable and healthy community and, according to Evina, several developers are eyeing building projects.
Though the battle over the Meijer development was long and bitter, Evina said the community is starting to come out the other side.
“It’s a healing process for Acme,” he said, and noted that groups with differing viewpoints on the big-box development are back working together on community events.
What Acme is dealing with is not unique in northern Michigan – how to balance the “character” of the community with growth, and in particular the changes that large-scale retailers bring – namely more large retailers.
The business community feels happy and confident in the current township leadership, according to Evina, and its master plan – which outlines a balance of rural community with economic development.
“I own three businesses in Acme and I live in Acme,” said Evina. “Personally, I don’t want to see it over-run.”
Evina said the association is looking for “steady, slow growth along M-72,” harnessing traffic from I-75 and U.S. 31.
The recently announced Bayside Park Improvement Plan – a makeover of Acme’s Bayside Park on US-31 – has the business community hopeful about continuing to celebrate Acme’s beauty. Evina also said the improvements would help in attracting people to come to Acme to go to the beach, and capturing some of those tourist dollars to strengthen nearby eateries and other shops.