On November 26, 2019, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) announced newly-funded projects that will boost investment in Michigan’s manufacturing industry, and extend MEDC’s commitment to supporting companies and communities of all sizes across Michigan. The projects are expected to generate $45.8 million in total investment and support the creation of 761 jobs in Michigan.
“Today’s Michigan Strategic Fund actions will fuel new economic activity in key industries across Michigan, strengthening our communities and creating good jobs for our residents,” said Jeff Mason, CEO of MEDC, the state’s chief marketing and business attraction agency, responsible for enabling long-term economic opportunity for all Michiganders.
“These business and community development projects are designed to enable long-term economic opportunities for Michiganders across the state,” Mason added.
The city of Grand Haven has been awarded $1,474,983 in Community Development Block Grant funds for public facilities improvements that are needed for the Project River Watch project to undo previous bad planning and reconnect downtown Grand Haven to the Grand River.
The project will enhance critically underutilized public space that currently contains limited access to the waterfront, including narrow sidewalks that cause pedestrian congestion along Harbor Drive, and difficult ADA accessibility.
The project will create a safe, reliable and engaging environment for the citizens and visitors to enjoy by creating new greenspace, constructing a new public overlook deck, widening the sidewalk and creating ADA accessible pathways to the waterfront. The city of Grand Haven will be contributing matching funds of $163,887 toward the project. The city is a certified Redevelopment Ready Community as well as a Master Level Community in the Michigan Main Street Program and has identified Project River Watch as a priority project.
“Connecting all populations to the waterfront, regardless of income level or ability, is a worthy goal. The Riverwatch program will expand access to the Grand River Boardwalk for all to enjoy,” said Grand Haven City Manager Pat McGinnis. “Grand Haven’s waterfront is a valued Michigan resource, and the funding from MEDC will supplement more than $9 million in public investment over the past three years along the banks of the Grand River.”
The city of Wyandotte Brownfield Redevelopment Authority received MSF approval of $4,449,257 in local and school tax capture to support the 166 Oak Redevelopment project that will transform a former U.S. Post Office and parking lot into a mixed-use, five-story retail and residential development with integrated parking.
Located at Oak and Chestnut Streets in downtown Wyandotte, the completed project will include first-floor retail space and residential space including apartments and condos on the upper four floors. The project is expected to generate a total capital investment of $12 million and create 60 full-time equivalent jobs while bringing increased density and vibrancy to a prominent, underutilized corner in downtown Wyandotte. The tax capture will be used to alleviate brownfield conditions at the site and prepare it for redevelopment. MSF approved $4,449,257 in eligible activities, but has capped reimbursement at a maximum of $3.8 million.
Wayfair LLC, founded in 2002, is one of the world’s largest online-only home furnishings retailers, selling more than 10 million home furnishings and décor items from more than 11,000 suppliers. Headquartered in Boston, the company has offices throughout the U.S. as well as in Canada and Europe. Wayfair employs more than 14,000 people worldwide.
Wayfair plans to establish a customer support center in Meridian Township that will allow the company to diversify its geographical coverage for customers throughout North America. The facility will house customer service representatives, support functions — including human resources, training, recruiting, workforce management and more — along with management.
The project is expected to generate a total private investment of up to $8.9 million and create 503 jobs, resulting in a $1,760,500 Michigan Business Development Program performance-based grant. The company is also receiving a $750,000 Jobs Ready Michigan Program performance-based grant to assist with training needs.
Wayfair is the first company to receive a grant under the Jobs Ready Michigan Program, which is designed to provide grants for business expansion and location projects that lead to job creation and investments in Michigan that have a demonstrated training need, particularly in pursuing new opportunities for high-tech, high-demand and high-wage jobs. Michigan was chosen for the project over competing sites in numerous other states. Meridian Township plans to support the project with expedited permitting.
WPP, the parent company of GTB Agency, LLC is a creative transformation company providing an integrated offer of communications, experience, commerce and technology to global companies, the largest of which is Ford. The company has more than 130,000 employees worldwide and is experiencing local growth in Michigan.
The company plans to move into a large existing building in the city of Detroit where GTB, VMLY&R, Burrows, Hudson Rouge, Iconmobile, Xaxis and Zubi will be located. The project involves the creation of 182 qualified new jobs and will generate a total capital investment of up to $19.2 million, resulting in a $1.65 million Michigan Business Development Program performance-based grant. The city of Detroit has offered a tax abatement in support of the project.
“Detroit is a vibrant city of makers and creators,” said Detroit Economic Growth Corporation President and CEO Kevin Johnson. “Therefore, we welcome WPP, known globally as a leader in creating transformational ideas featuring vivid and compelling content, technology and ecommerce solutions. We are certain WPP will thrive in Detroit’s creative community and innovation ecosystem.”
Loose Plastics, Inc. is a custom sheet extrusion manufacturer located in Gladwin established in 1985. Its plastic sheets are used in hundreds of products, including shower and bath surrounds, automotive components, camper components, packaging, headliners, ATV and RV parts and accessories, hockey rinks, truck bed liners and more.
Horizon Bank will provide financing to refinance the company’s existing term debt and working capital line of credit to improve overall cash flow. MSF is providing $1,369,375 in collateral support that will serve as an enhancement to the company’s $4,660,000 equipment term loan from Horizon Bank. Since 2015, Loose Plastics has increased its revenue by nearly 60 percent and currently employs 114 people. The company plans to grow the business and expects to see an increase in sales of an additional 10 percent by 2020. The company anticipates adding eight full-time employees within the next six months, and an additional eight within the next two years.
The Michigan Strategic Fund also approved $2,125,000 in continued funding for the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center as a one-year extension of the grant that was awarded to MMTC in October of 2018. The Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center provides support services to the Michigan manufacturing and related industries with the goal of increasing sales, profitability and the Michigan tax base, as well as creating and retaining jobs.
In a recent survey, 370 manufacturers reported that MMTC programming directly led to new or retained jobs and/or increased sales. Projects, in this case, were designed to help Michigan companies with product and process innovation, lean manufacturing and continuous improvement, quality systems, costing systems, supervisory training, cybersecurity, market research, food processing and business development.
“At a time when elsewhere in the country, states are experiencing challenges with creating and retaining manufacturing jobs, Michigan is demonstrating its legacy in the field and its continued leadership as it attracts new businesses and creates even more industry jobs thanks in part to the contributions of organizations like the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center,” Mason said.
The Michigan Economic Development Corporation is the state’s marketing arm and lead advocate for business development, job awareness and community development with the focus on growing Michigan’s economy.
Photo of Grand Haven State Park via Visit Grand Haven.