Macomb Innovation Fund Fuels Detroit Area Economic Development

The Macomb Innovation Fund announced that it has awarded $300,000 in funding for five early-stage companies from Macomb, Oakland, Washtenaw and Wayne counties in Michigan.

Macomb Innovation Fund

Macomb Innovation Fund (photo -innovationfundamerica.org)

The Innovation Fund is a $2.7 million effort to stimulate regional Detroit economic development and job growth among promising entrepreneurs and next-stage companies in the area with high-growth potential.

Funding for this Fund is provided by Macomb Community College’s Strategic Fund and JPMorgan Chase, as part of the company’s $100 million commitment to Detroit’s economic recovery and development initiatives.

Companies funded by the Innovation Fund are required to provide internships or learning experiences for Macomb Community College students. So students not only have the opportunity to develop valuable workplace skills, but will also gain first-hand exposure to entrepreneurship.

The five latest companies awarded funding through the Innovation Fund are:

Banza – Detroit-based Banza produces pasta from chickpeas that provides 25 grams of protein and 13 grams of fiber per serving with half of the net carbohydrates found in regular pasta. The company has been awarded $100,000 through the Innovation Fund.

Lighthouse Molding – Sterling Heights-based Lighthouse Molding has developed a low-pressure overmolding technology that encapsulates and protects electronic assemblies from water, humidity, shock, vibration, thermal variation, dust and dirt. The company has been awarded $100,000 through the Innovation Fund.

PHASIQ – Ann Arbor-based PHASIQ has designed a method of diagnostic testing for a variety of proteins in a single patient sample, providing advantages over the current process of testing for proteins one at a time. The company has been awarded $50,000 through the Innovation Fund.

Pro:Up – Detroit-based Pro:Up is an online marketplace that matches students to extracurricular opportunities related to their educational and career objectives. The company has been awarded $25,000 through the Innovation Fund.

Sterilogy – Bloomfield Hills-based Sterilogy has developed a hand sanitizer system with an electronic compliance system for health care workers. It not only records compliance with hygiene protocols, but also prompts compliance if the healthcare worker does not follow the protocols. The company has been awarded $25,000 through the Innovation Fund.

These five companies were selected from a field of 27 qualified applicants. Each went through a two-stage process, pitching first to a screening committee. Final award recommendations out of the companies that made it through the screening round were then made by a selection committee comprised of area professionals.

This is the second round of funding awarded by the Innovation Fund, following an earlier $275,000 round in July.

Dr. James Jacobs, president, Macomb Community College, said in a release that “The Innovation Fund is an important new way in which the college can directly support economic development while providing a different type of learning experience for our students.”

Chauncy Lennon, Head of Workforce Initiatives, JPMorgan Chase, noted that stronger small businesses drive job creation and economic growth. “We are proud to be a part of the Detroit-area’s resurgence by supporting the entrepreneurs who are fueling its recovery,” added Lennon.

GSA Kicks Off Nationwide Initiative in Detroit to Align With Local Economic Development Goals

The U.S. General Services Administration has launched a nationwide Economic Catalyst Initiative that will better align the agency’s building, leasing, and relocation plans with the economic development goals of local communities.

GSA Economic Catalyst Initiative

GSA Economic Catalyst Initiative (photo -gsa.gov)

GSA provides workplaces by constructing, managing, and preserving government buildings and by leasing and managing commercial real estate. Specifically, GSA manages 9,600 federally owned or leased buildings, along with 205,000 vehicles.

The idea behind the new Economic Catalyst Initiative is to align GSA’s plans with the economic development goals of local communities, while also improving outcomes for the federal government and partner agencies.

GSA Administrator Denise Turner Roth is launching the initiative this week, starting with projects in Detroit, MI; Cambridge, MA; and Charlotte, NC. In Detroit, GSA’s purchase of a commercial building in the city center for $1 and subsequent investment of more than $70 million is expected to be a catalyst for Detroit economic development.

The building in question is located at 985 Michigan Ave, constructed in 1995 under a build-to-suit lease and occupied by the IRS. The GSA executed an existing purchase option in the lease, resulting in a transfer of ownership of the building for $1 occurring earlier this year in April.

The idea was to save the federal government $11 million in annual lease costs, spend over $74.9 million to renovate and extend the useful life of the building, and then consolidate multiple federal agencies from other leased locations within Detroit.

So now the building will house not only the IRS, but also consolidate the offices of several other federal agencies including the Department of Justice, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Labor, State Department, U.S. Air Force Reserves, U.S. Office of Special Counsel, Social Security Administration, and GSA itself.

The investment and the hundreds of federal employees that will be housed in the building are expected to serve as a catalyst for development opportunity in the city’s center.

Similarly, GSA’s exchange of a 14-acre federally owned site in Cambridge, MA will drive development in one of the most valuable markets in the country. The agency’s build-to-suit lease a short distance away in Chelsea, MA has likewise been a catalyst for the development of hotels and residences.

In Charlotte, NC, GSA’s exchange of a 3.2-acre federally owned site to the city will drive transit-oriented development due to its proximity to a future multi-modal transit station.

Through the Economic Catalyst Initiative, GSA intends to create such economic development opportunities across the country.

Michigan Legislative Action Secures $5 Billion Switch SUPERNAP Data Center Campus

West Michigan is soon likely to be home to a new two million square-foot, $5 billion SUPERNAP data center campus with 1,000 jobs.

Switch SUPERNAP data center campus in Michigan

Switch SUPERNAP data center campus in Michigan (rendering – The Right Place, Inc.)

The Switch project, which is subject to passage of three data center bills currently in the Michigan Legislature, will be the largest data center campus in the eastern U.S. and will be located at the former Steelcase pyramid building in Gaines Township, MI.

Switch Executive Vice President of Strategy Adam Kramer said in a release that they are excited to be working with Governor Snyder, the Michigan Legislature, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and The Right Place, Inc. to bring Switch and its more than 1,000 clients that make up the largest data center ecosystem in the world to Michigan.

“Before Switch can finalize its announcement it will work with the Michigan Legislature to pass new data center legislation that creates an equal playing field between Michigan and its neighboring states,” added Kramer.

The three data center bills (SB 0616 and HB 5075; SB 0617 and HB 5074; and SB 0618 and HB 5076) introduced in the Michigan Legislature are intended to exempt data center projects from general sales tax, use tax and local property taxes respectively.

At full-build out, Switch and its clients are projected to employ 1,000 people to work in the data center campus. Furthermore, the campus will create thousands of well-paid construction jobs over the estimated 10-year build out of the entire project. A vast majority of Switch’s contractors will be hired from the local workforce.

Birgit Klohs, President and CEO of The Right Place, Inc., the regional economic development organization serving West Michigan, said in the release that “I cannot overstate the impact Switch will have on both the greater Grand Rapids area as well as the entire state of Michigan.”

“The unparalleled technology and data infrastructure investments planned by Switch will unleash countless new possibilities for growth in our state. The future of business will be driven by data, and Michigan will be well positioned as a hub of data innovation,” added Klohs.

Switch chose the former Steelcase pyramid building in Gaines Township, MI after substantial consideration in the search for its eastern U.S. data center campus. The seven-story pyramid building has been vacant since 2010.

Switch’s Nevada SUPERNAP Prime data centers are the largest independent tech ecosystems in the world. The company builds its SUPERNAP Prime interactive, super-scale facilities at inland locations that are still within the millisecond protocols needed to safely serve major markets, but without the increased risk of natural disasters associated with coastline locations.

SUPERNAP Las Vegas is 7 milliseconds from Los Angeles and 14 milliseconds from San Francisco. SUPERNAP Tahoe Reno is 6 milliseconds from Silicon Valley and 14 milliseconds from San Diego. The Michigan SUPERNAP Prime will be joining those ranks and share the infrastructure attributes as well as follow the Switch site selection criteria. SUPERNAP Michigan will be 2 milliseconds from Chicago and 14 milliseconds from New York.

UAW-Ford Agreement Includes $9B Investments to Create or Retain 8500 Jobs

The tentative new agreement reached between the UAW and Ford includes new U.S. investments worth $9 billion that are expected to create or retain 8,500 jobs.

Ford Livonia Transmission Plant

Ford Livonia Transmission Plant (photo – Dwight Burdette/wikimedia)

Ford issued a statement in which it says that “Working with our UAW partners, we have reached a tentative agreement for the next four years for our employees and our business. The agreement, if ratified, will help lead the Ford Motor Company, our employees and our communities into the future.”

UAW President Dennis Williams likewise said in a release that “The significant new investments will strengthen job security and job growth over the long-term.”

Ford’s investments will not unsurprisingly be a big driver for Michigan economic development. The biggest of the new investments announced include a $1.8 billion investment at the Livonia Transmission Plant in Livonia, MI.

The Livonia Plant, which produces 4R and 6R transmissions and service components, opened in 1952. The first vehicle to roll out of the plant was the U.S. Army tank. The new investment at LTP will enable continued production of the 6R 80 Transmission, while also adding three new transmissions and gear machining operations to the plant.

The Van Dyke Transmission Plant in Sterling Heights, MI likewise gets $650 million to continue production of existing transmissions and the addition of three new transmissions.

The Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, MI, which produces the Ford Focus, Focus Electric, Focus ST, and C-MAX Hybrid vehicles, is getting a $700 million investment for a new product to be added in 2018. The Woodhaven Hot Metal-Forming Plant in Flat Rock, MI will get $300 million for five new metal-forming lines and new laser cells.

The Dearborn Truck Plant in Dearborn, MI will get a $250 million investment to continue production of the F-150 Truck, and a new Raptor will be added to the plant. Dearborn Stamping/Diversified Production gets $80 million for a new press line, two machining lines and other additions.

The Dearborn Engine Plant will get a $50 million investment to continue engine production with an upgrade. The Ford Romeo Engine Plant in Romeo, MI is likewise getting a $150 million investment to continue engine production with upgrades.

The Ford Rawsonville Plant in Ypsilanti, MI gets $50 million to continue production of existing products. The Ford Sterling Axle Plant in Sterling Heights, MI gets $400 million to continue existing production and addition of new axles.

Detroit Breaks Ground on Transformative Orleans Landing Economic Development Project

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, joined by local business and community leaders, broke ground on the Orleans Landing project.

Orleans Landing

Orleans Landing (photo -hamilton-anderson.com)

This transformative $65 million Detroit economic development project will bring a new neighborhood and mixed-use community to the east riverfront with 278 apartments and 10,500 square feet of retail space.

The residential properties in the development will all be sustainably built to Enterprise Green Community criteria standards. Affordable housing rates will be offered on 20 percent of the available residential units.

The architect for the project was Hamilton Anderson Associates, Inc. working with Urban Design Associates as the master planner.

Mayor Mike Duggan said in a release that Orleans Landing will reactivate a major piece of Detroit’s riverfront and create a new, vibrant community there. “This investment is further proof that, increasingly, people are wanting to live in Detroit and be a part of its ongoing revitalization,” added Mayor Duggan.

Orleans Landing was made possible by a public-private partnership that includes the City of Detroit, the Economic Development Corporation of the City of Detroit, Invest Detroit, Community Capital Equity, LLC, Community Foundation for Southeastern Michigan, Gershman Mortgage, Goldman Sachs Social Impact Fund, L.P., The Kresge Foundation, Local Initiatives Support Corporation, and McCormack Baron Salazar, Inc.

The project also received state and federal support from the Michigan Strategic Fund, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and through a Wayne County Brownfield Redevelopment Authority EPA Loan.

Michigan Economic Development Corporation Chief Executive Officer Steve Arwood said in the release that this is a transformational project that will create a sense of place and serve as a catalyst to attract additional private investment, jobs, and residents to the city of Detroit.

“Orleans Landing is an example of public-private partnership at its finest, and we’re excited to be a part of it,” added Arwood.

Invest Detroit President and CEO Dave Blaszkiewicz added that they’re proud to be a partner in helping the Orleans Landing development begin construction adding new housing and retail opportunities to nearly eight acres of riverfront property just footsteps from the heart of downtown.

Detroit RiverFront Conservancy President and CEO Mark Wallace noted that their goal from the very beginning was to not only create a beautiful destination for Detroiters and visitors along Detroit’s riverfront, but to also be a catalyst for economic development.

“Orleans Landing is a perfect example of how all of the pieces are coming together to build a more vibrant neighborhood on the east riverfront,” added Wallace.

MEDC Grant Helps Lansing Economic Development Group Take on At-Risk and Underserved Areas

The Lansing Economic Area Partnership (LEAP) is launching a new initiative that aims to empower community and business stakeholders in the southwest area of the City of Lansing, MI.

LEAP-MEDC Lansing economic development initiative

Photo – purelansing.com

Supported by a $50,000 grant from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, LEAP will be engaging a consultant to conduct a study to understand economic opportunities while undertaking extensive community engagement to formulate an action plan for southwest Lansing.

LEAP and MEDC considered multiple areas across the three counties of Clinton, Eaton and Ingham before selecting the southwest area within the City of Lansing as the most suitable for this grassroots revitalization approach.

MEDC CEO Steve Arwood said in a release that “Through this effort we look forward to seeing this neighborhood become more economically sound and help revitalize the entire community.”

Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero said it is the right effort in the right place at the right time, adding that he’s very pleased to see LEAP leading the way on this project to explore new opportunities for economic growth and job creation on Lansing’s southwest side.

“Lansing’s Third Ward has great citizens who are eager to get involved and great potential to attract new investment through a coordinated community effort led by LEAP,” said Mayor Bernero.

Third Ward Councilmember A’Lynne Boles said that this initiative is much needed, and expressed confidence that it’s going to make a big difference in  their continued efforts to improve southwest Lansing, the city, and the region.

LEAP President and CEO Bob Trezise noted that this new initiative that LEAP has crafted provides much needed resources to support important capacity building in an area that has some serious challenges but is also an amazing asset in its diversity.

Trezise added that they are going beyond conventional economic development here to try to affect real positive change in an area that has not seen enough positive development in recent years.

The Lansing Economic Area Partnership is the economic development organization serving the tri-county region that includes Ingham, Clinton and Eaton counties. LEAP also serves, under a contract, as the City of Lansing Economic Development Department.

The organization also works weekly with the city of East Lansing, Michigan State University, Lansing Community College, the Capital Region International Airport, and other townships and small towns.

As per LEAP’s latest annual report, the organization has worked since 2012 on projects that have resulted in or soon will result in 3,348 jobs and $836 million in private investment.

An inclusive steering committee of southwest Lansing stakeholders will soon be convened to lead the new initiative.

Amazon to Expand in Downtown Detroit With Creation of Tech Hub

Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) announced plans for an expansion of its operations in Downtown Detroit, including the opening of a new technology hub.


Amazon (photo – BCRP/flickr)

The company, which already occupies space and about 100 employees in the Jefferson Office Tower in downtown Detroit, will be taking up more space in the same building and will convert the office into a technology hub by next year.

Apart from Amazon’s investment into the expansion and the creation of an undisclosed number of new jobs, another key benefit will be the fact that Amazon chose to establish a tech hub in the downtown area.

It ensures the continued growth of downtown Detroit’s reputation as a magnet for large tech enterprises and the jobs they create. Amazon’s tech hub joins the large existing Detroit operations of companies including Microsoft, Google, Twitter, Uber, Detroit Labs, UpTo, Quicken Loans and other tech giants.

Amazon also announced that it is partnering with Detroit Public Schools to further STEM education through the Carver STEM Academy, to help students who are interested in working in the tech industry. Amazon will be donating $10,000 and 30 Amazon Fire tablets towards this partnership.

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and other officials joined Amazon executives and the presidents of the University of Michigan and Michigan State University at an event held at the Cobo Center near Amazon’s office at 150 W. Jefferson to announce of the company’s expansion.

In a release announcing the expansion, Gov. Snyder said that “It’s exciting to see Amazon creating a presence in Detroit and I’m proud to have them here.”

Mayor Duggan added that when one of America’s most admired companies chooses the City of Detroit as place to open its Michigan headquarters, it’s a great day.

This Monday is going to get even better for downtown Detroit economic development, because the Amazon announcement in the morning will be followed by another high-tech automotive expansion project announcement  today in the Capitol Park Historic District in downtown Detroit.

Southfield, MI-based Lear Corporation [NYSE: LEA], a leading global supplier of automotive seating and electrical distribution systems with approximately 135,000 employees located in 35 countries, will be announcing the selection of Capitol Park as the location for their new high-tech design hub. The building in question in Capitol Park was formerly occupied by Brown Brothers Tobacco Co., and is now owned by Bedrock Real Estate Services.

Michigan Governor’s Economic Development Trip Secures Daimler Headquarters Relocation

Daimler North America Corporation, the holding company for all of the company’s business units in the United States, is relocating its headquarters from New Jersey to Michigan.

Daimler Headquarters

Daimler Headquarters (photo – Enslin/wikipedia)

The announcement comes from Frankfurt, Germany, where Gov. Rick Snyder met with Daimler executives at the 66th Frankfurt Auto Show. The Governor is leading a Michigan economic development mission to Japan and Germany.

In a release announcing the relocation from Frankfurt, Gov. Snyder said that the headquarters relocation will bring 30 jobs to Michigan in central office functions including treasury, legal, accounting and executive staff.

“Michigan is the world’s automotive leader, and Daimler’s decision to increase its presence in state is another indication that we intend to hold that position for generations to come,” said Gov. Snyder.

Daimler already has its Mercedes-Benz Financial Services headquarters in Farmington Hills, and the Daimler North America Corporation jobs and headquarters operations being relocated from New Jersey will likely be located in Farmington Hills too.

Daimler also has its Detroit Diesel operations in Redford Township, MI, in addition to the Mercedes-Benz Research and Development operations in Redford and Ann Arbor. Earlier this year, Mercedes-Benz USA announced plans to relocate its corporate headquarters from Montvale, NJ to Atlanta, GA. That relocation is bringing around 1,000 MBUSA jobs to Atlanta. Last year, Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA) broke ground on its new headquarters building on Swan Island in Portland, OR.

The company’s history dates back to the 1880s, when Daimler and Benz were founded as separate companies. Daimler-Benz AG was formally established in 1926 through their merger. DaimlerChrysler AG was created in 1998 as a result of the $38 billion merger of Daimler-Benz and Chrysler Corporation. DaimlerChrysler AG was renamed to Daimler AG after the sale of Chrysler to Cerberus Capital Management in 2007.

Stuttgart, Germany-based Daimler Group is still one of the biggest producers of premium cars and the world’s biggest manufacturer of commercial vehicles, and employed a workforce of 279,972 people. Last year, the Group sold more than 2.5 million vehicles and generated revenue totaling €129.9 billion.

Apart from the Daimler headquarters relocation announcement, Gov. Snyder also met at the Frankfurt Auto Show with executives of 60 auto supplier companies that have their American headquarters in Michigan. The Governor also announced the opening of a Michigan Europe Center to promote export development and trade with European markets.

The Michigan Europe Center, with offices in Berlin and London, will assist Michigan companies with research, market entry strategy, matchmaking, regulatory issues and trade mission meeting programs.

Michigan Economic Development Mission to China Greenlights $26M Investment By CW Bearing

Chinese ball bearing manufacturer CW Bearing announced plans to establish a new U.S. headquarters and technical center in Northville Township, MI.

Northville, MI

Northville, MI (photo – Michigan Municipal League/flickr)

Supported by a Michigan economic development grant and a tax abatement from Northville Township, CW Bearing, USA, Inc. plans to invest $25.9 million to build a facility that will house its U.S. headquarters, an engineering and technical center, and advanced manufacturing operations.

As part of the expansion, CW Bearing plans to create 125 new jobs at this new facility in Northville Township.

The announcement comes immediately after a Michigan delegation led by Governor Rick Snyder came back from an eight-day investment mission to China to promote business and tourism.

Gov. Snyder met with leaders of CW Bearing, USA, Inc. in Shanghai as part of a series of meetings with government leaders, businesses and journalists intended to increase investment in businesses located in the state and promote Michigan as a tourism destination.

The Governor’s mission to China was paired with a delegation of business leaders organized by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation to meet with prospective business partners, distributors and buyers to increase export opportunities from Michigan to China.

In a release announcing the company’s selection of Michigan, Gov. Snyder said that “CW Bearing’s decision to locate its U.S. headquarters in Southeast Michigan signals to corporate leaders across the globe that the Great Lakes State offers great opportunities for their business expansion.”

CW Bearing was founded in 1984 in a small workshop in Ningbo on the east coast of China. The company produces bearing components used in electronic power steering systems. CW Bearing USA, Inc. was established in 1994, with locations in Tustin, CA and Midland, NC, to provide sales, logistics, service, and engineering support for their North American customers.

In order to secure this headquarters and expansion project for Michigan and support the company’s investment and job creation plans, CW Bearing has been offered a $550,000 Michigan Business Development Program performance-based grant. The company will additionally receive Northville economic development support in the form of a property tax abatement for the project.

Jay Click, CW Bearing USA director of sales, said in the release that CW Bearing and all of its employees want to thank the state of Michigan for this grant and the support in helping them to make this project a reality. Click added that they look forward to continued support from the state and local government as they continue to expand their operations in the state.

GM to Convert Durant-Dort Carriage Factory in Flint, MI Into Automotive Archive

General Motors is once again investing millions of dollars in Flint, MI. But this particular investment is more about historic preservation and the city’s carriage and automotive industry legacy rather than about Flint economic development.

Durant Dort Factory One in Flint, MI

Durant Dort Factory One in Flint, MI (press photo – ©General Motors)

GM, which owns the historic Durant-Dort Factory One near downtown Flint, will invest several million dollars to convert it into an automotive archive and research center.

The automotive archive to be housed in the historic building is currently located at nearby Kettering University. The building’s high-bay area in the west wing of the facility will be renovated to house classic vehicles and other artifacts from Flint’s carriage-building era.

The second floor of the east wing will be converted into a flexible meeting area that will be used not just by GM, but also for community and educational groups to conduct STEM-related classes, seminars and, perhaps research too.

Mark Reuss, GM executive vice president of Global Product Development, Purchasing and Supply Chain, said in a release that “Factory One truly is the epicenter of the automotive industry and, as such, it makes sense to create a world-class archive where anybody can learn how carriage builders in Flint launched the global auto industry.”

Kettering University President Dr. Robert K. McMahan added that housing these collections at Factory One provides greater accessibility to the public, history enthusiasts and educational institutions, making the amazing shared history of GM, Kettering and the automotive industry in Flint available to new generations.

Factory One’s history dates back to 1880 when it was one of the facilities of the Flint Cotton & Woolen Mills company. In 1886, William Crapo Durant and Josiah Dallas Dort, founders of the Flint Road Cart Company, leased the vacant facility.

GM is also financially supporting the historic Durant-Dort Carriage Company office building across the street. The history of the office building across the street goes back to 1895-96, when it was built to provide office space and a carriage showroom for the Durant-Dort Carriage Factory. It was here that William Durant kicked off plans for many of America’s iconic automotive legacies including the formation of GM and Chevrolet.

The Durant-Dort Carriage office building was designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1978, and subsequently restored to preserve its early 1900s architectural heritage by the Genesee County Historical Society.

The Durant-Dort Carriage Factory building was purchased by GM in 2013, and the company has since spent $3 million for repair and restoration work on the building, and will now spend millions more on the next phase of the project.

This investment follows a series of major economic development projects in Flint involving GM, including an $877 million investment announced earlier this month for a new body shop at Flint Assembly.

GM has also recently donated $2 million to Kettering for a powertrain laboratory, and the GM Foundation is providing $2 million for the establishment of an automotive proving ground for Kettering students.

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