LANSING, Mich. (MIRS News)-Michigan’s economic development board rubber-stamped more than $138.5 million in state-funded business incentives for several projects, with an official transfer request to update Calhoun County’s infrastructure ahead of Ford’s incoming battery park accounting for $120.3 million of Tuesday’s awards.
In February, the Ford Motor Company made headlines after announcing that Marshall, the Calhoun County seat with more than 7,000 residents known for its 19th century architecture, would be the site of its $3.5 billion next-generation battery park for electric vehicles.
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Tuesday, the Michigan Strategic Fund (MSF) Board agreed to jump start the process of requesting the state House and Senate Appropriations Committee transfer $120.3 million from the state’s Strategic Outreach and Attraction Reserve (SOAR) Fund to an organization called the Marshall Area Economic Development Alliance (MAEDA).
“This investment will support land acquisition, site preparation, water and wastewater upgrades, professional fees and other necessary site and infrastructure improvements,” said Terri Fitzpatrick, the chief real estate and global attraction officer for the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), this morning.
Fitzpatrick said the Marshall “mega site” is approximately 1,900 acres total, with the arriving Ford battery park expected to take up about 950 acres. She said enhancing roads and utilities for the area will benefit the Marshall site and neighborhoods beyond Ford’s operation.
However, the action to implement the request for a SOAR Fund Strategic Site Readiness Program grant did not come without nearly an hour of public comment from residents claiming the overall project lacked transparency, would be better suited for one of Michigan’s vacant industrial landscapes or should be canceled and replaced with a new state park or recreational area.
The Governor already approved dedicating $299.7 million to MAEDA through the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity and $330 million to the state’s transportation department for anticipated road and interchange improvements when she signed a March supplemental spending bill.
“All the property that is needed for this project has already been acquired, and so there is not a concern with that, and there are additional properties we are hoping to acquire to make the Marshall site itself larger,” Fitzpatrick said during a media briefing before today’s meeting.
Other awards greenlighted by the MSF Board consisted of a $1.5 million Michigan Community Revitalization Program (MCRP) grant for McClellan Realty LLC. to transform a vacant two-story industrial laundry facility – once used by those working on freighters passing through Sault Ste. Marie in the Upper Peninsula – into a modern residential space.
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The board also approved a $1.5 million MCRP grant, a $2.38 million MCRP loan and $806,580 worth in state tax capture – compensating for brownfield redevelopment activities – to support the first phase of a downtown revitalization effort in Albion. The project aims to activate 29,000 square-feet of vacant space, constructing 20 residential units and more than 10,000 square-feet for commercial feet.
The project itself will additionally deploy federal tax credits to rehabilitate historic buildings, with multiple structures being more than 150 years-old.
Furthermore, more than $1 million in a community revitalization grant and a $159,578 state tax capture reimbursement for brownfield redevelopment activities was approved to assist local Bogan Developments LLC. in constructing 13 attainable housing units and a new childcare facility in Kalamazoo.
Moreover, the board greenlighted a $1.86 million Michigan Business Development Program Grant – which is dedicated to advancing job growth in Michigan – to Auburn Hills-based BorgWarner Inc., an automotive supplier, to accelerate its development and testing of electric vehicle (EV) products in its home city, Dearborn, Hazel Park and another undetermined location. The project is forecasted to generate 186 new jobs and $20.6 million in total capital investment.
California-based indie Semiconductor (Ay Dee Kay LLC.) was awarded a $10 million Michigan Business Development Program Grant to create a new design center in Auburn Hills, projected to produce up to 180 qualified new jobs and up to $12.5 million investment into the state.
“The company will be designing and testing automotive solutions, and Michigan is an attractive option for the project thanks to the automotive industry’s robust and legendary presence in our state,” said Quentin Messer Jr., the chief executive officer of the MEDC, during the media briefing. “This project also represents the first semiconductor firm to create and expand an integrated circuit design team in the state.”
Many of the awards, including the SOAR Fund transfer for MAEDA, are described as “performance-based.” Messer said that before a dollar is received by a company, “they have to demonstrate that whatever was agreed upon by certain milestones (on) the term sheet, which is unique for each project, has occurred by the particular milestone date.”
Furthermore, he said every contract he’s seen since arriving at the MEDC features a provision for clawbacks if a company’s performance slips.
“There’s an ability, if it’s not remedied, for the state and the MSF to recapture those dollars. That’s why we have a compliance team here at MEDC to monitor all these contracts,” Messer said. “We take very seriously how we’re deploying the tax dollars from 10-plus million friends and neighbors, who are working very hard and are playing by the rules and are paying into the system…so we want to be good stewards.”
Shortly after Tuesday’s meeting, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer celebrated the MSF Board’s actions.
“Our goal is to build an economy of the future and compete with everyone to bring advanced manufacturing home to Michigan. Tuesday’s approvals show that our work is paying off. Let’s keep working together to invest in every region of the state, create good-paying jobs, and build thriving towns offering strong opportunities to families and businesses,” Whitmer said in a press release.
Other items approved Tuesday for the 2.5-hour long meeting included a $449,500 allocation to the Michigan Israel Business Accelerator to ramp-up bilateral trade and investment relations between Michigan and Israel and a $975,600 state tax capture for the development of the 3874 Research Dr. project in Ann Arbor, being spearheaded by biopharmaceutical leader Sartorius BioAnalytical Instruments Inc.
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