Michigan Strategic Fund Approves Support for Projects to Bring in $49M, Updates Programs

The Michigan Strategic Fund Tuesday approved support for three projects expected to generate a total investment of $48.7 million and create 468 new jobs in the state, according to the Michigan Economic Development Corp. (MEDC).
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Webasto Roof Systems Inc.
Webasto Roof Systems Inc. will build a 300,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in Plymouth Charter Township with support from the Michigan Strategic Fund. // Rendering courtesy of Webasto Roof Systems

The Michigan Strategic Fund Tuesday approved support for three projects expected to generate a total investment of $48.7 million and create 468 new jobs in the state, according to the Michigan Economic Development Corp. (MEDC).

Webasto Group in Germany is among the 100 largest automotive industry suppliers worldwide and offers roofs. Webasto Roof Systems Inc. is its North American subsidiary and offers parking heaters, and roof and convertible roof systems for global OEMs. Webasto Roof Systems is adding a 300,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in Plymouth Charter Township. The company was recently awarded several large projects for Deaborn’s Ford Motor Co. and Auburn Hills’ FCA.

The project is expected to generate a capital investment of almost $48 million and create 441 new jobs, and the company expects to double its sales revenue in the next two-three years. the Michigan Strategic Fund gave the company a $2.7-million Michigan Business Development Program grant. Plymouth Charter Township plans to give the project a 50-percent industrial facilities tax exemption for up to 12 years. Michigan was chosen over competing sites in Ohio and Indiana. Career information is available here.

“Webasto has been a great long-time employer in Michigan. We look forward to them expanding their presence in Michigan with the addition of a major new facility in Wayne County,” says Wayne County Executive Warren C. Evans. “Their continued expansion in our region demonstrates, once again, how the strength of our region contributes to the growth of the automotive sector.”

Tawas City has been awarded $3,589,949 in Community Development Block Grant funds for its pier enhancement project, which will expand the current shoreline pier, allowing for safer fishing and viewing, creating 10 new docking sites, and making future pier development easier. The project received local support of $452,611 in funding from the Tawas City general fund.

The city of Hillsdale has been awarded $1,415,000 in Community Development Block Grant funds for its Dawn Theater project, which will restore the historic theater in the downtown. The vacant structure will be reactivated for community use and offer movies and space for special events and to rent. Restoration will update the brick façade, windows, floor, roof, and seating. The project received funding from the city of Hillsdale’s Tax Increment Financing Authority of $400,000 toward the rehabilitation.  The authority has also contributed $200,000 in building acquisition and pre-development production costs. The city says the project could result in a private investment of $400,000 and create 27 new jobs.

“Today’s projects are a testament to Michigan’s continued competitiveness and economic growth on both the national and global stage,” says Jeff Mason, CEO of MEDC. “Between our extensive automotive and manufacturing ecosystem, our many vibrant and diverse communities, and our innovative programs to support economic opportunities in the state, the projects and program expansions approved today will help ensure that Michigan remains a top place to live, work, and play.”

The Michigan Strategic Fund also approved changes to the Michigan Business Development Program (MBDP) and the Michigan Community Revitalization Program (MCRP).

The first program provides grants, loans, and other economic assistance for competitive projects in Michigan that create jobs and/or provide investment. Two new opportunities within this program were approved today. The Jobs Ready Michigan Program 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, high-wage jobs.

“Jobs Ready Michigan allows us to address the talent needs of companies looking to expand in the state in a targeted and impactful way as part of an overall attraction effort,” says Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. “As we continue our efforts to train up our state’s workforce, Jobs Ready Michigan will better allow us to adapt to changing industry demands and prepare our workforce with the skills they need to compete for the jobs of the future. Today’s actions also highlight a commitment to assisting smaller communities and projects in targeted industries, opening up the door for more job growth and economic vitality throughout our state.”

States including Georgia, Texas, and Alabama compete with Michigan in key industries and have already established standalone training funds that provide businesses an on-demand incentive to choose those states as their next location. This program will help Michigan better compete.

The MEDC will use up to $10 million from existing MBDP appropriations for the Jobs Ready Michigan Program.

The Micro MBDP, another program within the MBDP, is designed to promote business growth, especially in rural areas, areas with high unemployment, and target industries. The program will provide grants, loans, and other economic assistance to businesses for highly competitive projects in Michigan that have fewer job creation numbers than required by the original MBDP guidelines.

The second program, the MCRP, provides grants, loans, and other economic assistance to projects that redevelop functionally obsolete or historic properties, reduce blight, and protect natural resources. The changes to the MCRP guidelines now allow qualified projects located in communities with a population of 15,000 or less to receive a need-based MCRP award of up to 50 percent of the project’s eligible investment. Previously, the program had limited capacity to fill financing gaps in smaller communities due to construction costs and unique market conditions.

“These changes to our two flagship incentive programs will allow us to compete with other states by offering job training assistance to companies looking to expand or locate here. They will also help smaller, previously underserved communities, opening up the door for more job growth and economic vitality in all communities in our state,” says Mason. “As we continue to position Michigan as a national and global force to be reckoned with, it’s vital that we expand our toolkit and offer the best possible support we can to our businesses and communities, with the ultimate goal of creating more and better jobs for our residents.”

Other business attraction tools include the Site Readiness Program, which is aimed at boosting Michigan’s inventory of available properties ready to compete for business attraction projects, and the Speculative Building Program, which offers incentives and financing programs to encourage the development of new speculative building projects in Michigan.

The MEDC is Michigan’s marketing arm and an advocate for business development, job awareness, and community development. Its goal is to grow Michigan’s economy.

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