Muskegon Heights is starting off 2017 with a win when it comes to attracting a new business.

Leaders of The Gear Group selected Muskegon Heights to settle over two other lakeshore communities.

The city of Muskegon Heights is blessed with five-miles of frontage on Seaway Drive. Traffic counts on that road are some of the highest in Muskegon County. Several thousand motorists travel on Seaway Drive along Muskegon Heights every day.

"That is prime real estate," said Jake Eckholm, Muskegon Heights City Manager. Eckholm says in 2017 city leaders will increase efforts to attract small businesses to vacant buildings along the Seaway Drive commercial corridor. "There I think are four vacancies out of 22 buildings," said Eckholm.

The city's strategy will be to seek out small businesses. "If they have a good business model we would like to be the place they incubate and maybe down the line they are a large employer" said Eckholm.

City leaders are celebrating the recent addition of The Gear Group. The company had been working from space in Norton Shores and Muskegon. The Gear Group is up and running now from a long-time vacant title company building on Glade Street. Seaway drive is right out the promotional products and apparel company's front door.

"The location we picked had to do with adding another community to our roster, but also the great visibility and accessibility of this location for our clients," said Carly Crow, President of The Gear Group.

The three year old company customizes a number of products, printing customers' logos on everything from a cup to a shirts, bags, and hats. Crow says the new space is better for her small staff and those she hopes to serve, "Customers, can come into the showroom and see some of the products, try on different."

And Crow is excited to be part of a rebound in Muskegon Heights that city leaders believe is underway. "We are developing a strategic partnership with them in addition to just having out business here to help to reinvent that community," said Crow. "I think 2017, I say this with confidence will be a great year for the city of Muskegon Heights," Eckholm added.

The Gear Group has plans to add a large digital sign at their business, one that will not only promote the business but will also highlight a number of community events. Later this year Muskegon Heights will begin offering space to small-business owners at one of several vacant city owned storefronts in downtown. The retail spaces will come with lease rates between $100 and $200 a month.