Eastern Market’s EW Grobbel Sons to Expand with Michigan Strategic Fund Assistance

On Tuesday, Lansing’s Michigan Strategic Fund approved talent initiatives, a business expansion, and community revitalization projects, according to the Michigan Economic Development Corp.
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EW Grobbel Sons Inc. new facility rendering
EW Grobbel Sons Inc. will construct a food storage facility at Detroit’s Eastern Market with support from the Michigan Strategic Fund. // Rendering courtesy of EW Grobbel Sons Inc.

On Tuesday, Lansing’s Michigan Strategic Fund approved talent initiatives, a business expansion, and community revitalization projects, according to the Michigan Economic Development Corp.

The fund approved two programs as part of the corporation’s talent expansion program. The programs support job training initiatives designed to retain STEM talent in Michigan.

According to MSF: The Regional Talent Innovation Grants will provide $7.5 million in Community Development Block Grant-CARES Act funding to local economic development organizations and workforce development partners across the state.

The funds will provide grants between $500,000 and $950,000 to economic development organizations or other nonprofits, which will administer the programs. Priority will be given to training programs focused on low- to moderate-income individuals, particularly those living in disadvantaged areas. It is expected that at least 750 individuals will be trained.

Through the Michigan STEM Forward Program, the corporation will partner with Ann Arbor SPARK to launch the Michigan STEM Forward internship program on a statewide level. SPARK previously ran the program on a local level. Each year, the corporation will place 425-450 STEM students attending Michigan colleges into STEM-focused internships. The fund board granted $1.5 million in support of the program. SPARK will contribute 50 percent of the interns’ pay, and participating companies will pay the remaining 50 percent.

“Of the students that participated in our internship program over the last five years, 84 percent of them accepted jobs in Michigan upon graduation,” says Bill Mayer, vice president of entrepreneurial services for Ann Arbor SPARK. “It’s vital that we not only attract talent to Michigan but retain young job seekers post-graduation as a strategy to extend the pipeline of workers available to growing companies.”

In Detroit’s Eastern Market, EW Grobbel Sons Inc., which specializes in the production of meat and pickled produce, will construct a food storage facility that will include a cooler and freezer, loading docks, shipping, receiving, and office areas, as well as an expansion of the facility in a second phase of the project.

The project is expected to generate a total private investment of $33 million and create 300 jobs, resulting in an $800,000 Michigan Business Development Program performance-based grant and a $200,000 Jobs Ready Michigan Program performance-based grant. Michigan was chosen over competing sites in Georgia, Nebraska, and Ohio.

In addition, the City of Detroit Brownfield Redevelopment Authority received fund approval of a brownfield work plan including nearly $3.3 million for the reimbursement of brownfield remediation activities. Local support includes approval of the local tax capture portion of the work plan and a 12-year Industrial Facilities Exemption Tax Abatement valued at $5.6 million.

EW Grobbel was founded in 1883, and its growth includes expanding product offerings including meat snacks, retail sliced meats, and vegan snack bites.

In Kalamazoo, the fund approved the 400 Rose Phase 2 project, which will construct a new four-story mixed-use building. The project will include 101 apartments, commercial space, and underground parking. Approximately 10 percent of the apartments will be designated as workforce housing for households making 80-120 percent of area median income. The project is expected to generate a total capital investment of $26.2 million. The fund approved a $4.85 million Michigan Community Revitalization Program performance-based loan participation and support of the project.

The City of Kalamazoo Brownfield Redevelopment Authority also received fund approval of a brownfield work plan including state tax capture of more than $1.8 million to reimburse for brownfield remediation activities. The city is supporting the project with approval of the local portion of the brownfield plan as well as a 12-year Neighborhood Enterprise Zone tax abatement valued at $1.5 million. The project is adjacent to 400 rose phase one, which was completed in February 2020 and is 97 percent occupied.

In Grand Rapids, the 470 Market Redevelopment project will redevelop a vacant three-story former industrial building it will include 173 apartments, office space, a fitness center, a club room, and a parking area. The project is expected to generate a total capital investment of $31.2 million. The City of Grand Rapids Brownfield Redevelopment Authority received fund approval of a brownfield work plan that includes nearly $2.7 million in state tax capture to reimburse for brownfield remediation activities at the site

The city of Grand Rapids is supporting the project with the approval of the local portion of the brownfield work plan and a 10-year Obsolete Property Rehabilitation Act tax abatement valued at $2.88 million. The building was originally the site of the American Box Board Co.

Middleville Main plans to construct a new three-story mixed-use building on vacant village owned property in Middleville (south of Grand Rapids). The land has remained vacant since 1981 when the hotel that occupied the property burned down. The new development will include commercial space on the first floor and 11 apartments on the second and third floors. It is expected to generate a total capital investment of $2.8 million and create 10 full-time equivalent jobs.

In support of the project, the fund approved a $990,000 Michigan Community Revitalization Program performance-based loan. Middleville is contributing $20,000 from the Middleville Downtown Development Authority Façade Program and a $29,205 commercial redevelopment tax abatement. The project was also awarded a $100,000 architectural and engineering grant from the corporation.

The Grow Michigan II Program Award, a mezzanine-style loan font that was originally approved in October 2018, was expanded with an increased scope. The fund will work to increase awareness of the opportunity for capital it provides to underserved businesses. It added a manager to the board to help engage businesses.

The board approved a temporary extension of the Awardee Relief Initiative, approved in April 2020, to extend through Dec. 31, 2022 to provide emergency relief for up to 24 months for businesses and projects that have received fund financing.

The fund approved the release of four requests for proposals to advertising, marketing, and public relations agencies to showcase Michigan as a travel destination. The corporation received approval to issue requests to Travel Michigan Advertising, Business Marketing Advertising, Travel and Business PR and Communications, and Seasonal Travel Guide.

The fund also approved support for Michigan State University to administer the University Early Stage Proof of Concept-ADVANCE Fund. Since its inception in late 2016, the program has supported 51 proposals from seven state universities that have received $1.58 million in follow-on funding.

The state’s Brownfield Program Guidelines were also amended to make the program more accessible for customers across the state and strengthen the corporation’s place-making efforts.

The Michigan Economic Development Corp. is the state’s marketing arm and an advocate for business development, job awareness, and community development.

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