State Support OK’d For Business Expansions, Flint Incubator

LANSING — The Michigan Strategic Fund has approved three grants to create a new business incubator in Flint and build new manufacturing plants in the Grand Rapids area and Port Huron.

The MSF will provide a $286,000 performance-based grant to Siliconature Corp., and a $496,000 performance-based grant to HP Pelzer Automotive Systems Inc. Funds are provided through the Michigan Business Development program.

In response to increasing sales in North America, Siliconature Corp. will open its first United States production plant in Gaines Charter Township near Grand Rapids. The Italy-based manufacturer of silicone coated adhesive tapes and labels will invest $19 million and create 26 jobs.

Siliconature considered competing sites in Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin in deliberating where to locate its U.S. plant. In addition to the MSF performance-based grant, Gaines Township will support the project with a property tax abatement.

HP Pelzer, a manufacturer of soft trim automotive parts with acoustic and heat-management properties for the auto industry, will add a new production plant including an investment of nearly $13.5 million and the creation of 124 jobs in Port Huron. The state was selected over a competing site in Tennessee.

HP Pelzer is part of the Adler Pelzer Group, which employs more than 11,000 people worldwide. The group, founded in Witten, Germany in 1969, has four plants in Michigan, including its North American headquarters in Troy.

The St. Clair County Economic Development Alliance plans to support the project with a job fair.

For information on HP Pelzer careers, visit http://www.hppelzer.com/openings.html.

Also, the MSF approved a $2.5 million grant to turn Flint’s historic Ferris Building, the former home of Ferris Furs, into a business incubator called the Flint Ferris Wheel Innovation Center —  100,000 Ideas.

Flint-based SkyPoint Ventures is in charge of the renovation, under the leadership of Upper Peninsula entrepreneur David Ollila, its president and “chief innovation officer.”

The 46,000-square-foot incubator is modeled on a counterpart Olilla founded in Marquette, Invent@NMU. He says the building will offer a one stop shop to support new ventures, and will involve students from the University of Michigan’s Flint campus.

Olilla was the founder of Marquette-based Viosport, one of the first companies to perfect cheap, reliable, rugged, wearable video cameras for use by participants of extreme sports. Later, he got a U.S. Patent for an innovative hybrid ski and snowshoe.

Another successful entrepreneur is Skypoint Ventures’ CEO, Phil Hagerman — who took Diplomat Pharmacy Inc. from small family pharmacy to the nation’s largest specialty pharmacy, with $4.4 billion in revenue in 2016.

“The most innovative aspect of 100K Ideas at the Ferris Wheel is how it incorporates so many aspects of the community,” Hagerman said.  “From local university students gaining real job experience in their field by assisting inventors with bringing products from concept to market, to providing aspiring entrepreneurs in the community with access to workshops, competitions, boot camps and demo days through our partnership with U of M Flint. With the success David achieved at Invent@NMU, we are eager to see the impact the Ferris Wheel will have across Flint.”

Located at 615 S. Saginaw, the Ferris Building will be comprised of co-working space, a conference center, and a retail service area to meet the needs of entrepreneurs at all levels.

For more information on state business initiatives, visit http://www.MichiganBusiness.org.

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