Village plans to put Kingsley on the map

Around 30 community members came out to learn more about Kingsley's economic development plan.

The village of Kingsley has a plan in the works that community members hope will bring jobs and big business into town. A mostly unused 117-acre industrial park could soon be home to multiple commercial businesses.

As of right now, the only businesses on the land are a car wash, credit union, and dollar store. The area has potential to be an economic hot-spot, bringing jobs and a boost in Kingsley's overall economy.

Around 30 community members gathered Wednesday night to learn more about the proposals and brainstorm additional ideas to generate growth.

The main idea of the economic development is to put Kingsley on the map as a destination. Many people, even those who live close by, do not know where Kingsley actually is.

â??I have so many friends in TC that go, â??what's Kingsley? Where's Kingsley? Oh Yeah, I think I've driven through there,â?? said Jena VanWagner, a Kingsley resident.

Many people drive past the Kingsley sign and don't know anything about the one-traffic light-village just miles outside of Traverse City.

VanWagner moved to Kingsley from Grand Rapids nine years ago.

â??We picked Kingsley for the school system and the proximity to Traverse City,â?? said VanWagner. â??We love it here. But there is room for improvement.â??

Village leaders agree. They brought forward their ideas at the community meeting.

The first item on the list is to bring a home town, sit down restaurant to Kingsley.

â??I think the restaurant is a wonderful plan. You can't talk to three people on the street and not get three people telling you that you need it,â?? said VanWagner.

The next proposal involves marketing and advertising. Leaders want to get the word out about what Kingsley has to offer.

Rounding out the top three is the idea of promoting the village as a bedroom community.

â??Develop a bedroom community in which people live, work and play here, but have access to the nice city up town,â?? said Mitchell Foster, Kingsley Village Manager.

Foster is hopeful of more community involvement. He says the turnout for Wednesday's meeting is a good start.

â??I think this sort of thing will expand. I know a lot of people took away quite a bit from this meeting and presentation. I definitely did,â?? said Foster.

â??I like the ideas that the committee presented, that the study presented,â?? said Sue Ewing, a Kingsley business owner. â??I thought they were really worth while and worth pursuing.â??

While members of the community want to expand, they want to stay true to their small town values and charm.

â??For us I think that's important that we get a few extra things, a few more things to do, a little more recognition, but we keep that dividing line between us and the big city,â?? said VanWagner.

Some of the other ideas to boost Kingsley's overall economy are highlighting its historic fly-fishing background, extending its trails systems to connect the community, and expanding the craftsman theme with antiques and artisan sales.

The village manager hopes to implement the first three proposals within the next two to five years. â??The best response is that we're moving forward,â?? said Foster.