Frankfort

Community Profile
Spotlight on Frankfort
On Beautiful Lake Michigan

Frankfort is a bustling port community, surrounded by water on three sides. It’s downtown lines the shores of Lake Michigan and Betsie Lake, and Crystal Lake sits directly to the north. The community prides itself in being marina-focused, making it easy for any kind of aquatic activity. Though small, its heavy tourism focus has also resulted in a downtown packed with bustling food, drink, and entertainment establishments, and the boat launches and lakeside access points are balanced by seaside beach areas and green parks for any visitor to enjoy. Frankfort is at the intersection of US-22 and route 115, and the nearby airport, just two miles outside of downtown, provides quick local access if you’re not arriving by boat!

Why Frankfort?

Frankfort has a well-educated workforce, with over half of the residents having earned a higher degree. Due to the draw of the region, as a vacation and recreational hub, the population trends older than the rest of the surrounding Benzie County. This represents opportunities for aging-in-place infrastructure and developments. 

Of those who live in the area of Frankfort and Elberta, nearly a third also work there. As a tourist destination, the major industries are tourism-related, such as Accomodation and Food Services. There are seven resort/hotel accommodations in the downtown area alone, including the iconic Harbor Lights Resort. The Hospital and other healthcare services are also a main source of employment, as would be explained by the aging population.  

As a port town, many of the community activities are sea-side focused. However, the community hosts a number of events year round to appeal to any traveler and when the boating season slows. Arts and craft fairs, holiday parades, and the recently purchased Garden Theater keep residents entertained when the concerts, sunbathing, and shoreline activities are over after the humming summer months.

The natural assets of this region speak for themselves. Looking ahead, there is a local focus on increasing livability for all community members; more housing options, better walkability, and expanding healthcare supports are the primary goals for leadership.

The value of investment opportunities in the Frankfort and Elberta Community Investment Area speak for themselves, as the development along its shores has continued to pick up momentum in recent years. Direct access to waterfront, trails, and shipping options, this makes property in this area a hot commodity. This is a prime location for housing investments to support the year-round population. The area includes Blaine township, Frankfort City, Crystal Lake Township, Gilmore Township, Lake Township, and the Village of Elberta.

 

 


 
Traverse Connect: Serving Benzie County, Grand Traverse County, Kalkaska County, & Leelanau County 
Traverse Connect is the lead economic development organization for the Grand Traverse region, which supports area businesses through a combination of business attraction and retention strategies, talent development efforts, and strategic coordination among partner agencies. Traverse Connect now serves the region as one organization supporting business growth and development, alongside partner organization Venture North Funding and Development.

Investment Opportunities

This one-story mixed-use building has Main Street frontage, is directly across the street from the Frankfort Manufacturing Company, and directly west to two vacant parcels and another mixed-use building for sale.
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Two-story mixed-use building has Main Street frontage, is directly across the street from the Frankfort Manufacturing Company, and directly west to two vacant parcels and neighboring another mixed-use building for sale. Sites could be purchased in a bundle for larger development. This site is also adjacent to the Betsie Valley Trailway and one block away from the Frankfort Municipal Marina.
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Two adjacent vacant lots in the Main Street east district would be perfect for a variety of uses. It could accommodate workforce housing, mixed used, commercial uses, or town homes.
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The collection of the ‘Boneyard’ vacant lots form a sizable opportunity off M-22. The lots are adjacent to the bike trail and Betsie Bay.
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Population
45%
Percentage of Population in Frankfort Aged 25–64
Income
$40,000
Median Household Income in Frankfort City
Housing
1,841
Households in Frankfort City
4,692
Housing Units in Frankfort
88.4%
Homeownership Rate
54.5%
Seasonal Housing
$164,500
Median Home Value in Frankfort City
$627
Median Monthly Rent in Frankfort City
Education
41%
% (#) of Population 25+ with a Bachelor's Degree or Higher in Frankfort
Schools in Frankfort
Frankfort Elementary School, Frankfort High School
93.2%
4-Year Graduation Rate from Frankfort-Elberta Area Schools

Community Resources

Featured Organizations

  • Oliver Art Center
    The purpose of the Elizabeth Lane Oliver Center for the Arts is to maintain an educational program and facility for the advancement of the arts. 

  • Frankfort Rotary Club
    Rotary brings together a global network of volunteer leaders who dedicate their time and talent to tackle the world’s most pressing humanitarian challenges.

  • Periwinkle Garden Club of Frankfort
    The Periwinkle Garden Club of Frankfort was organized in 1972 to encourage interest in all phases of gardening, flower arranging and allied arts and to promote better horticultural practices, civic beauty, conservation of natural resources and the preservation of our environment.

Economic Development Ecosystem Map

This map shows some of the many organizations in this county providing economic development related services, such as workforce training, development finance, or technical advising for businesses. Use the dropdown in the upper left hand corner to filter by People, Investment, and Place.  

“People” covers organizations that focus on early childhood care, workforce training, equity and diversity, and talent recruitment and retention.  

“Investment” includes organizations that focus on industry cluster support, small business investment and technical assistance, innovation and technology development, and real estate and commercial development.  

“Place”-focused organizations include tourism, arts and culture, and recreation organizations, planning and development entities, infrastructure and utility providers, and housing organizations.

Infrastructure

Infrastructure

Electric Provider(s): 

Consumers Energy   
Business service: 1-800-805-0490
 

Natural Gas Provider(s): 

DTE Energy
Business service: 1-855-383-4249

 

Broadband/Fiber Provider(s):

Charter Spectrum
Business Service: 1-855-670-1454

AT&T
Business Service: 1-877-219-3898

 

Water Provider(s): 

Frankfort City​
231-352-7117

Economic Development

Recent Private Investments

Garden Theater
Jobs Created: 3
A group of volunteers came together in 2008 to restore a historic theater in the main business district that had fallen into disrepair. A new heating and cooling system, sound system, theater seats, and upgraded entrance area were all added to return the theater to working order. Capex: $600,000 | Size: 7,500 sqft
Stormcloud Brewery Production Center
Jobs Created: 70
Stormcloud Brewing Company opened a 12,760 sq ft facility in 2013, which houses a 20-barrel brewhouse. Capex: $1.2 million | Size: 3,500 sqft
Planned: M-22 Workforce Housing Development
Meant to break ground in 2021, this planned housing development will be located on two parcels along M 22 adjacent to 324 Lake Street. There will be 12-units on Betsie Bay and 30-units across M 22. Capex: $220, 000 | Size: 42 Units

Recent/Planned Public Works

Recent: Bellows Park Renovations
Cost: $350,000 | Type: Road, Streetscape
Recent renovations to Bellows Park in Crystal Lake included rain gardens, permeable pavers, ADA accessibility improvements, and the development of a wall along the beach to minimize wind erosion.
Road Construction Project (In Development)
Cost: $1.3 Million | Type: Road Improvements, Water
Part of a $4.6 million, 20 year construction tax levy approved in 2020 this reconstruction will yield new water mains, updated storm sewer system, streetscaping, and better sidewalks of six blocks of M-22 . Future uses of the levy will include replacing water leads to homes.
Recent: Market Square Park Bathrooms
Cost: $276,500 | Type: Public Infrastructure, Utilities
Upgrades to the Market Square Park bathrooms have improved the tourist scene in the main business district of Frankfort.
Population
4,213
Population of Frankfort/Elberta
-10.8%
Population Change from 2010–2018
45%
Percentage of Population in Frankfort/Elberta Ages 25–64
1.3%
Percentage of Non-White Population in Frankfort/Elberta
Education
41%
% (#) of Adults in Frankfort/Elberta Region with Bachelor's Degree or Higher
51%
% (#) of Adults in Frankfort/Elberta Region with Higher Degree
Employment
1,722
Labor Force
27.5%
Percentage of Workers Who Live In & Are Employed In Frankfort/Elberta
25.7%
Percentage of Jobs in Benzie County in Accommodation & Food Services
4,299
Total Jobs in Benzie County
Housing
1,841
Households in Frankfort/Elberta
4,692
Housing Units in Frankfort/Elberta
88.4%
Homeownership Rate
54.5%
Seasonal Housing
17%
Housing Units Built Before 1940
Income
10.5%
Poverty Rate
67%
Household Income of $15,000–$99,000

Contact

Joshua Mills
Superintendent for City of Frankfort, Zoning Administrator for Village of Elberta, Gilmore Township, and Blaine Township
jmills@cofrankfort.net
(231) 352-7117

Lisa Leedy
Executive Director, Alliance for Economic Success
lisa@allianceforeconomicsuccess.com
(231) 723-4325