DETROIT-Three cities in Oakland County may join together to form a SmartZone for the area. SmartZones are areas designated by the state that allow an infusion of cash through a Tax Increment Finance Authority, a tax shelter set up to capture future property and school taxes of businesses within the zones.

Southfield and Rochester Hills have partnered with Lawrence Technological University and Oakland University, respectfully, to create smaller, technology park sub-zones that are a part of the larger Automation Alley SmartZone.

Troy is considering joining the SmartZone, but the idea has not been taken to the city council in that community yet.

The Oakland SmartZone, the 10th such zone created by the state, aims to stimulate the growth of technology-based businesses and jobs by creating recognized clusters of technological businesses and research institutions throughout the state, including zones in Battle Creek, Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, Lansing, as well as Houghton Oakland, Mount Pleasant, Muskegon and Washtenaw and Wayne counties.

The SmartZones will bring business, research activities and training and support services together in one location, allowing for easy collaboration, according to state officials.

The program was created through amendments to the Local Development Financing Act.

Ken Rogers of Oakland County tells the zone will allow a joint marketing effort to bring in new, high-tech businesses.

“Also residents, especially students, will enjoy the benefit of the SmartZone, they will have a direct benefit of technology companies. Also, businesses will get expertise to reach the next level of excellence with assistance from our business accelerator,” Rogers says.

He adds he’s trying to negotiate with Troy to provide space for the accelerator, which will employ three full-time workers to run the program.

The state has contributed $2 million in seed money for the project. Troy will take up the SmartZone discussion at a meeting in January or early February.

Rogers says the accelerator will also have a business link to defense companies to try to get military contracts.

The Rochester Hills city council agreed to form its Smartzone earlier this month, targeting land around Avon and Hamlin roads and the Oakland University boundaries. Ed Anzek, the director of planning for Rochester Hills, tells the zone will encourage partnerships among the businesses, technology, education and research communities.

Money for the promotion and new business enticement will come from the property tax capture for 15 years. The state has agreed to reimburse the school district for the money that’s captured.

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