State Approves Aid To Business Expansions

LANSING — Funding to assist with projects including the American Center for Mobility – a project to redevelop the old Willow Run industrial site into a center for autonomous and connected vehicles — has been approved by the Michigan Strategic Fund, the Michigan Economic Development Corp.

MSF today approved a $2,999,900 performance-based grant and $100 equity investment in funds transferred from the Michigan Business Development Program to the Willow Run Arsenal of Democracy Landholdings Limited Partnership.

The grant will pay for environmental, consulting, and other evaluation of the site, and toward the property acquisition, as well as provide start-up support for the American Center for Mobility. The limited partnership will continue to work with RACER Trust — the trust set up to dispose of the properties of the former bankrupt General Motors — to close on the property in the coming months.

The American Center for Mobility is a joint effort of several state and local agencies, including the Michigan Department of Transportation, the MEDC, the University of Michigan, the statewide CEO group Business Leaders for Michigan, and Ann Arbor Spark, the economic development agency for Washtenaw and Livingston counties. The board of directors includes representatives from the university, BLM, and Spark. Advisory boards representing the auto industry and the community will also be established.

Other aid approved included:

* A $1.4 million Michigan Business Development Program performance-based grant to Stoneridge Inc., which plans to move its headquarters from Warren, Ohio to Novi. Stoneridge designs and manufactures electrical and electronic components, modules, and systems for the commercial vehicle, automotive, off-highway and agriculture vehicle markets. The grant will support the creation of at least 70 highly-paid jobs, as well as provide flexibility for up to 70 additional jobs to support the company’s future growth needs and total capital investment of more than $5.1 million. Michigan was chosen over competing sites due to its proximity to the auto industry. Novi has offered support to the project in the form of property tax abatement. People interested in careers with Stoneridge should visit http://www.stoneridge.com

* The MSF also approved $400,000 in funding through the Michigan Strategic Fund Act for RecoveryPark & RecoveryPark Farms, an independent, 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that was established in 2010 in Detroit with a mission to create sustainable jobs for people with barriers to employment. RecoveryPark Farms is a social enterprise launched in 2014 in Detroit to grow branded, specialty herbs and produce to sell to local chefs as a means to provide job opportunities and funding for RecoveryPark. The organizations plan to acquire and redevelop about 105 acres of land on the east side of Detroit, where they will develop indoor and climate controlled growing technologies. The first phase of the project launch will generate a total capital investment of up to $1.9 million and create 43 jobs for unemployed or underemployed Detroiters. Other services provided to employees will include housing, transportation assistance, medical assistance, mental health assistance, professional and personal coaching, soft skills training and more. For more information  visit http://www.recoverypark.org or http://www.recoveryparkfarms.com.

* The Bay City Brownfield Redevelopment Authority received approval of $742,350 in local and school tax capture to develop an obsolete building at 501 Saginaw St. in downtown Bay City into a modern, 100-room hotel. The project will generate a total capital investment of more than $6.7 million and create 20 full-time equivalent jobs. The tax capture will be used to alleviate brownfield conditions across the site, asbestos abatement, demolition work, and renovation of interior spaces. The project has also been awarded a 12-year, Obsolete Properties Rehabilitation Act tax abatement at the local and state levels, with a total value of $898,000.

* The Grand Rapids Brownfield Redevelopment Authority received approval of $837,598 in local and school tax capture for the redevelopment of three parcels of property at the corner of Carlton and Fulton Streets in Grand Rapids. The completed project, Fulton Square, will consist of two new buildings with retail space, restaurant space and a total of 47 market rate apartments. The project will generate a total capital investment of $8.65 million and create 15 to 20 full-time equivalent jobs. The tax capture will be used for demolition activities, site preparation and infrastructure improvements. The project is also seeking a Neighborhood Enterprise Zone property tax abatement valued at $420,112 over 12 years.

* MSF also approved a grant of $5 million over five years from the 21st Century Jobs Fund to support the creation, start-up costs, and capital needs of a new Michigan-China Innovation Center to be located in Michigan. The center will focus on operating an entrepreneurial and bi-directional business gateway between Michigan and China to generate jobs in Michigan, increase private foreign investment in the state, and expand business-to-business matchmaking in Michigan and more. MCIC will supply business development services to MEDC that will focus on marketing Michigan opportunities to Chinese business investors; delivering business-to-business matchmaking services; and deploying economic development professionals to build relationships, host investors in Michigan and provide the critical support necessary to close deals that will ultimately result in the creation of jobs in Michigan. MCIC will be governed by a board of directors and supported by an advisory board which will include MEDC and MSF representation.

Several other items approved include:
* Approval of the operation of the Redevelopment Ready Communities Program under direction of the Community Development division.
* Approval of the operation of the Michigan Main Street Program under the direction of under direction of the Community Development division.
* Approval of four Requests for Proposals for the following; Tourism promotion representative in China; Travel Michigan marketing and advertising; public relations and social media; and business marketing and advertising (a separate press release with details on the RFPs will be issued later in the week).

For more on the MEDC and its initiatives, visit MichiganBusiness.org. For Michigan travel news, updates and information, visit michigan.org. Michigan residents interested in seeking employment with any of Michigan’s growing companies should check mitalent.org, where more than 98,000 jobs are currently available in a variety of industries.

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