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Oxford ranked among best places to do biz



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Its all about entrepreneurship and economic growth in downtown Oxford. Photo by C.J. Carnacchio. (click for larger version)
October 20, 2010 - Officials are always saying that the Village of Oxford is a great place in which to do business. Well, now they have a university study to back up their boast.

On Tuesday, the village was recognized as one of the top 55 communities in the entire state, according to the 2010 eCities project.

Oxford was one of 28 communities given a five-star rating. The remaining 27 municipalities achieved four-star ratings.

"I thought that was really something to be proud of," said Madonna Van Fossen, executive director of the Downtown Development Authority.

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eCities is an annual study that examines community factors that influence entrepreneurship, economic development and job growth in cities, townships and villages.

Conducted by iLabs, which is the University of Michigan-Dearborn's Center for Innovation Research, the study's primary purpose is to understand and share the best practices for entrepreneurial growth.

"The communities who receive star honors are obviously some of the best communities in Michigan to do business," said Timothy Davis, director of iLabs. "It's actually something we're quite proud of recognizing these communities as places that are focused on understanding what it takes for entrepreneurs and small businesses to grow inside them and help Michigan's overall economy."

As a five-star community, Oxford shared the spotlight with Ann Arbor, Troy, Northville, Novi, Royal Oak, Southfield and Frankenmuth to name a few.

To Van Fossen, earning this honor indicates "there's a lot of communication between the businesses, the DDA and the village council."

"It's a business-friendly community," she said. "We offer a lot of resources for our business, from training to partnering with larger corporations. I imagine our partnership with Relume (Technologies) had a big impact."

Based in Oxford, Relume is an LED lighting manufacturer that the village has worked closely with to obtain grant money and retrofit street and parking lot lights with more energy-efficient LED systems.

A total of 112 communities from across the state were surveyed for this year's eCities study, which constituted the largest number of participants since the research project began in 2007.

These communities represented a third of the state's population, according to Davis, and are home to 128,242 entrepreneurs who earned $3.4 billion in annual income. These communities also had $1.2 billion in commercial development last year and account for nearly half the state's commercial property.

"It's actually a pretty impressive group," Davis said. "We're pleased to have Oxford as part of that group."

Unlike other entrepreneurial indexes, eCities examines growth at the community level.

Using data supplied by participants as well as public records, the annual research project assembles a six-factor, 30-item index.

The study examines things such as tax rates and incentives, changes in business activity and commercial construction, the use of economic development tools by local government, socioeconomic and cultural factors such as crime rates and household incomes derived from self-employment, and the education levels of residents.

"The growth factor was an area where Oxford was one of the stronger communities," Davis noted. "They saw some growth last year."

Information for the eCities study was provided by Van Fossen and village Manager Joe Young, both of whom answered a series of questions and participated in phone interviews with researchers.

for nearly half the state's commercial property.

"It's actually a pretty impressive group," Davis said. "We're pleased to have Oxford as part of that group."

Unlike other entrepreneurial indexes, eCities examines growth at the community level.

Using data supplied by participants as well as public records, the annual research project assembles a six-factor, 30-item index.

The study examines things such as tax rates and incentives, changes in business activity and commercial construction, the use of economic development tools by local government, socioeconomic and cultural factors such as crime rates and household incomes derived from self-employment, and the education levels of residents.

"The growth factor was an area where Oxford was one of the stronger communities," Davis noted. "They saw some growth last year."

Information for the study was provided by Van Fossen and village Manager Joe Young by answering a series of questions and participating in phone interviews.

CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.
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