By DANIEL HERATY
DEARBORN — The business climate is getting better.
That is how MJM Group Vice President Frank Monaghan describes the atmosphere in west Dearborn.
Monaghan, who manages the Shops at West Dearborn on Michigan Avenue, said the biggest reason for the growth of businesses in the area has been the auto industry.
“Last year, when Chrysler (Corp.) and General Motors (Corp.) were in trouble, things were real quiet,” Monaghan said.
Monaghan said that the Ford Motor Co. employees who live in the area will determine the future for the businesses that are in the area and those that want to come in, and that as long as businesses continue to add people and not subtract, there will be growth.
He said that one of the obstacles that is stil an issue are the blighted buildings.
“When you try and recruit businesses, they would always bring up the blighted buildings,” Monaghan said.
Barry Murray, Economic and Community Development director for the city, said the tourism generated by The Henry Ford is a factor in getting people into the area, as well as the prospect of a light rail system that will connect Detroit to the outlying suburbs, including Dearborn.
Murray said that plans to develop the rest of the area had to be put on hold due to to the recession that struck the area in 2007, and they keep getting more and more expensive.
The idea is to follow the models of downtown areas such as Birmingham, Ann Arbor, and Royal Oak.
Plans included a movie theater in the area around Panera Bread, 22208 Michigan Ave., Murray said.
“The plans are still being worked on,” he said. “They kept getting bigger, more complicated and ambitious.”
He added that the addition of more retail stores would come last because they are the most difficult to get.
Murray agreed with Monaghan in that the future success of Ford will go a long way toward determining the growth in the area.
“That’s huge,” he said.
(Contact Daniel Heraty at [email protected])