The “Thumb” region (look at map to see how it got its name) of Michigan got a lovely Valentine’s Day present on February 14, 2020. That’s when the State Land Bank Authority announced the creation of the Tuscola County Land Bank Authority. The new authority joins 47 other local land banks statewide.
Tuscola County is one of five counties in the Thumb area. Like the rest of the thumb, Tuscola County’s economy enjoys seasonal tourism from cities like Flint, Detroit and Saginaw, but not enough. Among other needs, its towns need to redevelop their blighted buildings and areas, both to diversify the economy and to become more attractive to tourists.
Tuscola County is now the second county in the Thumb region to create a land bank authority within this past year – the Huron County Land Bank was created last summer. Land banks at the local level create more opportunity for counties to engage with their community as well as return unproductive properties back to the local tax roll.
“Having an additional land bank in the Thumb is great news for the region,” State Land Bank Interim Director Jeff Huntington said. “The new land bank authority will help boost economic development and I look forward to working with county officials to continue revitalizing communities in the area.”
The State Land Bank has seen an increase in the number of county officials interested in exploring the benefits of land banking. Since 2010, a total of 17 county land banks have been created.
This is a positive sign that communities are serious about assessing their development needs and taking the steps needed to combat blight, strengthen communities and create more opportunities for local development.
“The new Tuscola County Land Bank Authority will give us the economic development tools needed to help eliminate blight, spur economic development in our county, fix title problems and deal with properties that have little or no market value,” Tuscola Economic Development Corporation Executive Director Stephen Erickson said.
The State Land Bank works with counties across the state who are interested in beginning the process of creating their own local land bank. Unless a local land bank is created, the state assumes the role as primary resource for land banking within the county.
In addition to the State Land Bank’s 2,500 available properties, local land banks also have inventory with a number of available properties.
Photo of downtown Unionville, Michigan (in Tuscola County) by Notorious4life via Wikipedia.