OXFORD — When it comes to attracting and promoting economic development, Oxford is officially ready to work with businesses, developers and entrepreneurs.
Both the Oxford Township Board and Oxford Village Council recently approved resolutions formally accepting their membership in Oakland County’s One Stop Ready program.
“Not only is Oxford open for business, it’s ready to welcome businesses with a renewed spirit of efficiency and cooperation,” said Jack Curtis, chairman of the township’s Economic Development Subcommittee.
Launched in January 2012, the One Stop Ready program has a long-term goal of lowering barriers to businesses that want to set up shop in the county.
The program encourages municipalities to review their policies, compare best practices and work together to make business development easier.
“There’s nothing wrong with evaluating what you do and comparing it to how other communities do things,” said EDSC member Todd Bell. “We can all learn from our mistakes and our successes as well as those of others. No one community has all the answers.”
Of the seven communities participating in the One Stop Ready program, Oxford is unique in that it’s the only township-village combination.
“Oxford is one community with two governments,” said EDSC member Ed Hunwick. “In order to grow and prosper, we need to work together. That which benefits the township helps the village and vice versa. Together we are stronger.”
Bell, who also chairs the township’s planning commission, considers the fact that Oxford was selected by the county for One Stop Ready particularly important because just five short years ago, the local government was viewed by outsiders as “hard to work with.”
Being told that directly by a county official “really hurt us,” Bell said. “That’s not the image we want to project, particularly to people who could potentially bring jobs here, expand our tax base and help increase property values.”
But instead of simply sitting on their hands and accepting this unflattering perception, township officials took the bull by the horns and starting doing things to change how the rest of the world views Oxford.
For instance, the township created the EDSC to pursue business and development opportunities, look for ways to make the processes involving planning and zoning more efficient and logical, and put a shine on Oxford’s tarnished image by consistently promoting the community’s successes and positive attributes through Automation Alley.
“More and more Oxford is being viewed as ‘the place to be’ instead of ‘the place to avoid,’” said Curtis, who noted the township’s had at least 34 new home starts this year alone and the planning commission recently recommended to the township board approval of a project that calls for building 50-plus detached condominiums.
“The economy is starting to move again and there’s no doubt that Oxford’s going to move with it,” Hunwick said. “We’re not just One Stop Ready, we’re ready for success.”
Oxford Township is home to 20,526 residents (including Oxford Village) and experienced the third highest population growth (28.2 percent) in Oakland County in the 2000s based on the 2010 U.S. Census. Its diverse business community ranges from a revitalized downtown district to a healthy manufacturing sector. For two straight years, the village was recognized by a University of Michigan-Dearborn study as one of the top communities in the state when it comes to fostering economic development and entrepreneurial growth.
Oxford is served by a full-time, professional fire department, which currently holds the record for the fastest cardiac care time in the county.
Five of Oxford’s public schools are currently candidates to become International Baccalaureate World Schools, while the high school was authorized to administer the IB Diploma Program. Oxford Elementary was recently authorized as an IB school as well.