Because of my position at the city, I am often asked by visitors or leaders from other communities: What is the secret to the success of downtown Tecumseh? How has your downtown flourished, while others have struggled?
My first answer is always “our small business owners.” Nowhere else that I have worked or lived have I seen a group of business owners who are so willing to help each other out and realize that the success of others around them will contribute to their success.
I often share the story of Tecumseh Bread & Pastry that was able to start business because 3 Dudes and Dinner invited them to use their commercial kitchen until they could afford a storefront of their own. I give the example of the owner of Union Block Suites, who has rehabilitated several buildings downtown, which has allowed Musgrove Coffee and Paper Street Soap to open.
Another name that rises to the top is Dave Stimpson. Dave has spent the last 15 years investing in our downtown and helping other small business owners. He has volunteered on the Downtown Development Authority for almost a decade. Dave started with the historic Bidwell Building, bringing a landmark building back to life and making it possible to host several small retail and office tenants. Then there was the dilapidated and blighted Eagles building on S. Evans Street, which is now a modern dance studio thanks to Dave. When Gray Fox Floral suffered its devastating fire, Dave offered to put the Eagles building renovations on hold and host their business until their building was re-built.
More recently, Dave came to the city and said he wanted to do something to help some of the businesses downtown that had suffered during COVID. He offered to sponsor a downtown block party to get people to come back downtown, particularly to the bars and restaurants that had been devastated by having to close or limit their capacity.
Dave used his legal expertise to help several of the bars and restaurants apply for the new social district license, even fronting the application fee for one proprietor. He even purchased drink tickets at several of the establishments to hand out to first responders and veterans to thank them for their service.
When the current online blogs and social media posts circulated that Dave had purchased a couple other rundown and vacant properties in downtown Tecumseh with his motivation was to somehow profit off the planned Lenawee Community Complex (The Phoenix), it was obvious they didn’t have the full story. Clearly, someone was feeding these outlets a dishonest narrative in an attempt to selfishly divert resources from the project or for their own political gain. I would encourage anyone that has been confused or swayed by these allegations to look a little closer at the history.
Dave Stimpson has been a long-time investor, volunteer and supporter in downtown Tecumseh and has helped a number of our small businesses through the years. Thank you, Dave, for your ongoing commitment to Lenawee County, and specifically for your long-term efforts to make downtown Tecumseh a success.
Dan Swallow is a Lenawee County resident and Tecumseh city manager.