Michigan Fund to aid 14 projects that aim to create 4,590 jobs

Melissa Burden| The Detroit News

The Michigan Strategic Fund board Wednesday approved incentives for 14 projects across the state in which the companies plan to invest $1.1 billion and create 4,590 jobs.

The investments include several from automotive suppliers who are expanding operations; a dairy farm; Whirlpool Corp. relocating work from Indiana to Benton Harbor; an expansion by a company that makes prescriptions on the state’s west side; and the renovation of the historic David Whitney building in Detroit.

“It’s great to see companies really wanting to expand in our state,” Gov. Rick Snyder said in a telephone interview Wednesday.

Snyder credited recent state tax and regulatory reforms, plus a talented workforce as aiding companies’ willingness to invest and expand in Michigan.

Later Wednesday, he downplayed questions about whether the company investments had anything to do with the recent passage of right-to-work legislation in the state.

“It wasn’t a major factor for these jobs — they were in the pipeline,” Snyder told reporters inLansing.

MEDC President and CEO Mike Finney said in an interview that some of the projects have been in the approval process for a month and others as long as a year.

“There is an awful lot in here that’s automotive, but there are home appliance jobs, pharmaceutical, high-tech optical and agriculture,” Finney said. “That really speaks to the diversity of the projects.”

He said corporate site consultants are tellingthe MEDC the right-to-work law that takes effect March 27 “is an important factor” in deciding whether to move to Michigan.

Snyder also said the investments by so many auto suppliers is a testament to the industry’s recovery.

“Michigan is coming back strongly,” he said.

Lear Corp. subsidiary Integrated Manufacturing and Assembly, which makes auto seating components, plans to expand in an existing facility in Detroit and also open a new site in the city, spending $13.85 million and adding 755 jobs. The company received a $3 million Michigan Business Development Program grant for the project and Detroit is considering a 12-year tax abatement for the existing plant worth more than $942,000.

Southfield-based Lear also plans to invest $18.75 million at a facility in Highland Park, creating 334 jobs.

Whirlpool wants to invest $18.9 million and move its refrigeration research and development offices from Evansville, Ind., into a former Whirlpool plant in Benton Harbor, creating 180 jobs. The MEDC says Whirlpool chose Michigan over sites in Iowa and Mexico, as it secured a $2.4 million state grant.

The appliance company also is being offered a $1.85 million, 12-year tax abatement from Benton Harbor.

The list of approvals also includes auto supplier Denso International America Inc., which last week announced plans to invest more than $150 million and create 440 jobs by expanding a research and development center in Southfield and a plant in Battle Creek.

Magna International’s Norplas Industries Inc. division plans to invest $81.75 million to open a robotic paint line and injection molding operation in Delta Township, and open a facility for assembly and sequencing front-end modules in Brownstown Township. The projects are expected to create 658 jobs.

Snyder said the tax breaks and incentives awarded Wednesday are “significantly” less than the MEDC would have handed out in the past to help companies lower Michigan Business Tax bills.

Those refundable tax credits were unpredictable for state budgeting purposes, Snyder said.

“This is a much improved system that’s being very strategic … and it’s working well,” he said.

mburden@detnews.com

(313) 222-2319

News Lansing bureau Staff Writer Chad Livengood contributed.

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