LANSING – The Michigan Strategic Fund approved new talent initiatives, a business expansion and community revitalization projects along with other actions that will continue to strengthen Michigan’s economy and position the state for future prosperity, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation announced.
“Today’s actions demonstrate our focus on supporting and strengthening Michigan’s workforce as we continue to implement our Michigan Back to Work plan to get Michiganders back on their feet,” said Governor Gretchen Whitmer. “From building on our state’s agricultural strengths to creating vibrant communities, we remain committed to creating the places where people want to live, work, visit, and play, and where businesses want to invest and grow.”
Signature Talent Initiative Invests in Michigan’s Workforce, STEM Talent Pipeline
MSF today approved two programs as part of MEDC’s talent expansion signature initiative helping to strengthen Michigan’s competitive advantage when it comes to talent and workforce – particularly in retraining and upskilling our existing workforce and growing our tech talent. These two programs address both near- and long-term workforce challenges for Michigan’s economy by supporting job training initiatives tailored to regional workforce demands and helping to retain STEM talent here in Michigan.
Regional Talent Innovation Grants – This program 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 through proposals for competitive training pilot programs in their regions. The funds will provide grants of between $500,000 and $950,000 to eligible economic development organizations or other nonprofits, which will administer the training programs and target growth in specific occupations in high demand from regional employers. A priority will be training programs focused on low- to moderate-income individuals, particularly those living in geographically disadvantaged areas. It is expected that through these efforts, at least 750 individuals will receive training helping to address the lack of post-secondary credentials and a skills mismatch in occupations related to the MEDC’s Strategic Focus industries.
Michigan STEM Forward – The MEDC will partner with Ann Arbor SPARK to launch the Michigan STEM Forward internship program on a statewide level. SPARK has run the program on a local level through the Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti SmartZone with a decade of positive results. In scaling the program up, MEDC will work in partnership with SPARK to place 425-450 STEM students currently attending Michigan colleges annually into STEM-focused internships throughout Michigan. With the support of a $1.5 million grant approved today by the MSF Board, SPARK will contribute to 50 percent of the interns’ pay, and participating companies will pay the remaining 50 percent. SPARK will track the employment status of the interns for at least 12 months to measure their retention in Michigan as well as those remaining in those knowledge positions.
“Ann Arbor SPARK is thrilled to leverage our decade of experience running our own Ann Arbor-based internship program and take the opportunity to administer the Michigan StemForward program on behalf of the state. We have a solid track record of delivering results that help both businesses and job seekers: Of the students that participated in our internship program over the last five years, 84 percent of them accepted jobs in Michigan upon graduation,” said Bill Mayer, Ann Arbor SPARK’s vice president of entrepreneurial services. “It’s vital that we not only attract talent to Michigan, but retain young jobseekers post-graduation as a strategy to extend the pipeline of workers available to growing companies.”
Business expansion in Detroit will bring jobs, spur additional economic activity
Rendering courtesy of EW Grobbel Sons
EW Grobbel Sons, Inc., founded in1883, and headquartered in Detroit’s historic Eastern Market, specializes in the production of meat and pickled produce. The company has been experiencing a growth in business and has reached production capacity at its existing facility. The growth includes expanding product offerings and new lines of business such as meat snacks, retail sliced meats, additional pickled produce offerings and healthy vegan snack bites. The project will include the construction of a state-of-the-art food storage facility in Eastern Market’s Innovation Zone 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.
The project is expected to generate a total private investment of $33 million and create 300 well-paying 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 MSF approval of a brownfield work plan including $3,276,724 for the reimbursement of brownfield remediation activities at the site. 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.
The project aligns with MEDC’s strategic plan by creating attainable jobs in a geographically disadvantaged area of Detroit. The jobs will range from entry-level positions to long-term careers. The company offers a number of training and certification opportunities and promotes from within, and actively hires and supports community residents. Individuals interested in careers with EW Grobbel should visit https://www.ewgrobbel.com/careers/.
“Started in 1883, Grobbel is a long-standing Detroit business and essential to Eastern Market’s food production district,” said Kenyetta Bridges, DEGC, Executive Vice President Economic Development & Investment Services. “That’s a testament to our ability to support Grobbel’s continuous growth with development tools. We are truly honored to work with the Michigan Strategic Fund and the City of Detroit Brownfield Redevelopment Authority to secure this project. As a result, Grobbel will add 300 jobs and invest $33 million, which we hope will lead to another 138 years of successful business in Detroit.”
Community Revitalization Projects Create Vibrant Communities, Attract Talent
The Michigan Strategic Fund also approved community revitalization projects in Kalamazoo, Grand Rapids and Middleville that are helping to create vibrant places that attract and keep talent. By contributing to traditional downtown districts and revitalizing underutilized public spaces, the projects are bringing new opportunities for economic growth and local vitality to these communities.
Rendering courtesy of BKV Group
The 400 Rose Phase 2 project will construct a new four-story mixed-use building near the primary downtown retail corridor of Kalamazoo. When completed, the project will include 101 apartments, a small commercial space, and underground parking. Approximately 10 percent of the apartments will be designated as workforce housing for households making 80 to 120 percent of area median income. The project is expected to generate a total capital investment of $26.2 million and will add density and bring needed workforce housing within walking distance of several major employers. MSF today approved a $4.85 million Michigan Community Revitalization Program performance-based loan participation in support of the project.
The City of Kalamazoo Brownfield Redevelopment Authority also received MSF approval of a brownfield work plan including state tax capture of $1,821,217 to reimburse for brownfield remediation activities at the site. The city of Kalamazoo is supporting the project with approval of the local portion of the brownfield plan as well a 12-year Neighborhood Enterprise Zone tax abatement valued at $1.5 million. The city of Kalamazoo is certified with MEDC’s Redevelopment Ready Communities program.
The project is adjacent to 400 Rose Phase I, which was completed in February 2020 and is currently 97 percent occupied. The development team will seek Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification for the project, and the construction team will adopt LEED processes for recycling and indoor air quality. The project will include green/live roofs and stormwater storage will be added under the at-grade parking area. The development has access to public transportation and will also include accommodations for bicycle storage to encourage alternate modes of transportation.
“It has been encouraging to see how the city of Kalamazoo and the Brownfield Redevelopment Authority are bringing a diverse group of people to live downtown with a feeling of inclusion as part of this new housing opportunity at 400 Rose Apartments. This $25 million capital investment in Downtown will support much-needed housing. Developers have taken intentional measures with their design, as this part of downtown transitions into our other great neighborhoods to the south, offering a bit of the mixed-use of downtown near the more residentially-oriented and uber-cool Vine Neighborhood,” said Nathan Bolton, chair of the Kalamazoo Brownfield Redevelopment Authority. “When people visit downtown, they will no longer walk past these empty parking lots and vacant buildings. Instead, they will appreciate a vibrant, socially inclusive downtown, created by the re-use and activation of a brownfield property which the BRA is excited to support through local incentives.”