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Orion Center shifting gears

October 16, 2013 - The township board is currently in the process of setting the 2014 budget, and one of the items of most discussion is the community programs budget.

With the opening of the new community center last year Township Supervisor Chris Barnett said expenditures have risen and revenue has fallen.

The projected 2014 expenditures for community programs are $518,700, a little more than $130,000 of last year's expenditures. Revenues projected for 2014 are $178,700.

"We have this beautiful building that costs us a lot of money to operate and maintain in staff, we just have to be a little more business savvy and take some steps for long term sustainability," he said.

Both Barnett and Community Program's Director Lisa Sokol are confident a few business decisions can help the Orion Center generate more money.

The first step is the community center's exclusive contract with Crank's Catering as of Monday, October 7.

Out of Macomb County, Crank's Catering specializes in fine-dining catered to wedding receptions, communions, corporate events, Bar-B-Que's, anniversaries and holiday parties.

"We think it's going to create more of an attraction for larger events, because people are going to see that we are really serious about doing high quality things," Barnett said.

With the exclusive contract, all Orion Center events will use Crank's for catering. Also, with every event the township will receive a percentage of Crank's sales.

Jeff Crank, owner of the catering business for 32 years, has many investment ideas for Orion Township.

"We want to look at the whole township, and invest around $100,000 in advertisement," Crank said. Not only would Crank cater at the Orion Center, he could potentially cater for events throughout the township including park events, outdoor weddings, and concessions.

"Outdoor weddings are one of the biggest things in catering right now, there's just such a high demand," he said. "There's so many people moving out there. You look at the area and the venues and the things you have, it's definitely untapped. We can raise a lot of money for the township because we would work together very well as a team," he said.

From sushi to French cuisine, the catering company has 14 different pasta dishes, 20 different vegetable dishes, 25 different chicken dishes, fresh fish, and much more. Visit www.crankscatering.com to see more menu items.

The second business decision involves revamping the wellness center on the first floor of the Orion Center, which is currently vacant.

"The wellness center would be a huge improvement," Sokol said. "We're contacting a variety of different hospitals and clinics to determine who is interested in working with us as a partner."

The seven major healthcare providers of the county—Genesys, University of Michigan, Henry Ford, St. Joe's, McClaren, Crittenton and Beaumont—have all been submitted a request to occupy the center.

"Basically it's going to be at no cost to the township, and we're asking them to provide us some kind of revenue, and we're asking them to get creative," Barnett said.

The winner of the bid will set up their own wellness center providing services like blood pressure checks, flu shots, physical therapists, nutritional health classes, sports physicals, clinics and other classes.

Most of the programs will be geared towards seniors.

"Right now we have an eight week program with Crittenton providing a variety of health topics, but this would be a more formal and longer relationship with who we choose as a permanent heath care provider," Sokol said.

The township is requesting bid returns by October 18, and Crittenton, St. Joe's and Beaumont have already looked at the center.

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