MEDC OKs support for $500M statewide projects

The state of Michigan recently approved a slew of projects that will revitalize communities across the state and boost the agribusiness and life sciences industries.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on June 28 joined the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) in announcing Michigan Strategic Fund (MSF) approval of projects, including a business expansion by a global life sciences provider in Muskegon; community revitalization projects in Detroit, Battle Creek and Sault Ste. Marie; and support of Michigan’s agribusiness industry.

The approved projects represent a total capital investment of nearly $500 million.

Whitmer

“(These) approvals will continue to grow Michigan’s economy by creating good-paying jobs for Michiganders while expanding on our leadership in the life sciences and agribusiness sectors,” Whitmer said. “We will continue to put Michiganders first by investing in our talented manufacturing workforce, helping our communities build thriving downtowns and economies, and providing opportunities for innovative businesses to grow and thrive here in our state.”

Muskegon

The first of the projects is a life sciences solutions provider that is establishing new operations in Muskegon, bringing 200 high-wage jobs to the area.

Global Life Sciences Solutions USA is a provider of technologies and services that advance the development of therapeutics. The company’s customers undertake life-saving activities ranging from fundamental biological research to developing innovative vaccines, biological drugs, and novel cell and gene therapies. The company has more than 8,000 employees across 40 countries.

Global Life Sciences plans to establish its first Michigan operations in Muskegon Charter Township, where it will manufacture resins for use in biological medicines. Pending the acquisition of an existing site, the company will invest in property upgrades and new machinery and equipment to establish an environment capable of high-quality life sciences manufacturing, including lab and clean-room space.

The project is expected to generate a total capital investment of $430 million and create an estimated 200 jobs.

The Michigan Strategic Fund approved the following in support of the project:

  • A $1.5 million Michigan Business Development Program performance-based grant
  • At $1.5 million Jobs ReadyMichigan grant
  • A five-year, 100% State Essential Services Assessment exemption valued at $2.7 million

The company provides training and benefits for its employees. The training, supported in part by the Jobs Ready Michigan grant, is expected to cover a wide range of skills and roles, including manufacturing practices, engineering and technology, and quality control.

Muskegon Charter Township is expected to approve a property tax abatement in support of the project.

“Global Life Sciences’ $430 million investment in Muskegon will create 200 good jobs in the region while also further boosting West Michigan as a life sciences hub,” Whitmer said. “My administration is committed to growing our economy, creating jobs, and investing in Muskegon and all areas of the state.

“Thanks to bipartisan legislative support of critical business attraction tools like the Michigan Business Development Program, we are empowering MEDC to compete for every project and every job. We’re pleased to welcome Global Life Sciences to Michigan, and we look forward to working with the company as it continues to grow and add jobs for West Michigan residents.”

Kentwood

The MSF also approved an increase in collateral support for Superior Foods Company in Kentwood, as it seeks to boost the state’s agribusiness industry.

Superior Foods is a full-service wholesale food processor and distributor serving retail grocery stores and the food service industry in the Grand Rapids region. The company is best known for its seafood and meat products, but it now also offers a large variety of fresh produce. Superior Foods primarily sources from local suppliers and farmers, supporting agribusiness throughout Michigan.

The company recently expanded its capacity to meet the demand for pre-packaged meals to serve its grocery chain customers and needs to increase its cash collateral to meet demand. Macatawa Bank has requested an increase in the current working capital line of credit to Superior Foods from $10 million to $13 million, resulting in MSF support of an additional $1.25 million.

Superior Foods currently has 268 employees, and with the additional capital, it plans to add another 30 in the next six months and an additional 50 in the next two years.

“Superior will continue to utilize the Collateral Support Program through the MEDC to fund growth well beyond the amount we could grow through traditional borrowing formulas,” said Keane Blaszczyinski, CFO at Superior Foods. “Through the enhanced borrowing on our inventory assets, we have been able to fund growth opportunities that would not have been available through traditional asset-based line of credit facilities and formulas. We have been able to expand our ready-to-eat division through this program by way of a 26,000-square-foot building expansion in a new facility, which will allow us to triple our capacity in this growing segment of our business.”

The support for Superior Foods builds on the state’s goal of growing its agribusiness industry, including support for Request Foodswhich announced plans in October 2021 to expand at four locations in Holland. The project is expected to generate a total capital investment of $205 million and create up to 198 jobs, supported by several incentives approved by the Michigan Strategic Fund, including a $2 million Michigan Business Development Program performance-based grant.

Battle Creek

The MSF is also supporting the renovation of a vacant building into a hotel to bring visitors and increased economic activity to downtown Battle Creek.

50 Capital Ave Development Corporation will redevelop a vacant, 15-story former hotel in downtown Battle Creek into a 239-room DoubleTree by Hilton hotel. The project will include a restaurant, green space and outdoor areas accessible to guests and the public, with the goal of encouraging pedestrian traffic between the hotel and surrounding business district.

The project is adjacent to the Kellogg Sanda 6,500-seat concert and event venue, and the green space will connect to the nearby Festival Market Square.

The project is expected to generate a total capital investment of $45.2 million and create 165 full-time jobs, supported by a $7.5 million Michigan Community Revitalization Program performance-based loan participation award.

The transformation of the underutilized property, one of the largest buildings in downtown Battle Creek, is expected to bring visitors to downtown and generate additional economic activity in the area. The project is geared toward enhancing the region’s attractiveness for prospective investments and offering value to corporate partners in the area who need a high-quality hotel for business purposes.

In addition, local stakeholders plan to leverage the hotel operation to create educational and job opportunities for local youth and under-employed residents by partnering with Grand Valley State University, Kellogg Community College, Battle Creek Public Schools and others to support on-the-job training programs.

More than $16 million in local financial support has been raised for the hotel project, with additional funds also leveraged to support revitalization of the adjacent area. Partners in this transformation include the city of Battle Creek, Calhoun County, Calhoun County Visitor Bureau, Kellogg Company, the WK Kellogg Foundation, Miller Foundation, Consumers Energy Foundation, Battle Creek Bronson Hospital and Battle Creek Unlimited. In addition, the city of Battle Creek is providing an Obsolete Property Rehabilitation Act (OPRA) tax abatement valued at about $3.23 million. The city of Battle Creek is certified with MEDC’s Redevelopment Ready Communities (RRC) program.

The project builds on other redevelopment efforts in downtown Battle Creek—including the iconic Heritage Tower’s transformation into The Milton — which continue to attract businesses, residents and visitors to the area.

“We are excited to bring this project to fruition and look forward to the impact it will bring to downtown Battle Creek,” said Battle Creek Unlimited President and CEO Joe Sobieralski. “This project represents a new direction for BCU’s economic development efforts, one we expect will pay dividends for years to come. The renovated hotel will be a unique workforce training facility in the heart of our community that will provide job opportunities for countless residents. We greatly appreciate the MEDC, the WK Kellogg Foundation, the city of Battle Creek, Calhoun County and the many other community partners for their generous support in making this project a reality.”

Messier Jr.

Details on the Detroit and Sault Ste. Marie projects are available at puremi.ch/bigprojects.

“The projects approved (June 28) reflect our people-first approach to economic development by creating economic opportunity in West Michigan and supporting needed housing and vibrancy in Battle Creek, Detroit and Sault Ste. Marie,” said Quentin Messer Jr., CEO of the MEDC and president and chair of the MSF board. “We are grateful to Gov. Whitmer, legislators and local officials for their continued support and partnership throughout our efforts.”