Earlier this year, the Conference Executive Team brought a proposal to the Conference Leadership Board to consider leasing the former Family Life Radio station building located just west of Spring Arbor on I-94. This facility has been for sale and vacant for four years. The proposal contained a rationale for the need of new space as well as a financial due diligence analysis. During our fall meeting, the CLB toured the building and examined the proposal in detail. Subsequently, the CLB unanimously authorized Mark Dowley to execute the lease which we have recently signed. We expect to take possession of the facility sometime after the first of the year.
WHY NEW SPACE?
Our staff team has grown. Since making our strategic hire last year with the addition of Assistant Superintendent Michael Forney the need for more space has been evident.
Our staff team is changing. The reality is that our conference has changed dramatically since we created the Conference Administrator position almost a decade ago. Mark’s departure gives us the ability to realign our Conference staff team according to new realities and our current priorities. We believe that it makes sense to redesign his position to that of a Conference business team consisting of part-time personnel.
Our current office space is inadequate. We have virtually no collaborative/creative space for our current staff team to work. This creates built-in inefficiencies in our daily operations. We are also not able to have an office “work room” in order to produce and assemble larger scale projects.
WHY THIS SPACE?
The size of the facility is adequate. It will offer needed space for the new part-time business team we are hiring to replace Conference Administrator Mark Dowley. We will have space for a conference room for committee meetings, work room for projects and collaborative/creative space for our staff team.
The value of the facility is a bargain. Leased office space in the Jackson area averages $12 per square foot. The lease we have negotiated on this building is $5.46 per square foot. This makes this lease an exceptional value for us. Not only are our square foot costs much lower, but we also benefit from the additional space we need. In addition, we have negotiated an option to purchase this building with a fixed sale price. If we were to exercise our option our square foot cost would drop down to $2.36 per square foot making the long-term impact of owning this facility advantageous to our operations budget by driving down costs. In the short run, we will expend funds from our current cash reserves in order to get the building “move in ready”. Despite these initial costs, our long-term operational costs will be reduced in the days ahead.
The condition of the facility is very good. We have had the building professionally inspected and it is in great condition.
The location of the facility is excellent. This building is conveniently located just west of Spring Arbor on the I-94 corridor at Exit #127. I-94 serves as a major artery of the Conference. It also gives our Conference more visibility and establishes our commitment to be in the geographic center of the SMC.
Does this align with our Mission as a Conference?
The mission of the SMC is to multiply disciples, leaders, groups and churches. To accomplish this mission, we must have all of the tools at our disposal which we need in order to fulfill our mission of serving, resourcing and multiplying leaders and churches. Adequate and functional office space can’t be underestimated concerning its impact on our mission.
How will this impact our current commitments to our 10/36 Multiplication Initiative?
This lease will not impact our current commitments toward multiplication! Our Conference has “two buckets” of money. The first “bucket” is our Conference operations budget which includes our current cash reserves. The costs associated with this lease will be paid for out of this “bucket”. Any giving that we have or will receive for the 10/36 Multiplication initiative funds goes into an entirely different “bucket” that cannot be used for Conference operations.
Won’t this move cost the Conference churches more money to support Conference operations?
None of the short term costs to move in are coming from local church “ministry share” giving to the Conference. The initial move in costs are coming from cash reserves from the sale of previous assets in the past few years. Our due diligence report indicates that ongoing maintenance & operational costs to this new building are budget neutral for our Conference operations budget. We have forecast that in the long-run, we will drive down our operations portion of our Conference budget.
Do we have a part-time business team in place for this transition?
Craig Simonds is a consecrated deacon and lay leader from our Dearborn Church. Craig has accepted the Part-time Business Manager position. In addition, Anna Goodsell, wife of ordained elder Gary Goodsell of our Kalamazoo Church, has accepted the position as our Conference bookkeeper. Both Craig and Anna are being trained by Mark Dowley so as to provide a seamless transition and to ensure that the historical and institutional knowledge is not lost in this transition. Both will begin their new duties after the first of the year. An additional part-time business team person will be added once the “operational gaps” become clearer to us after the first of the year.