Marine Manufacturer Chooses Lowell Site

August 1, 2008
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LOWELL — The Attwood Corp., a manufacturer of marine parts and accessories, was recently awarded a High Technology Tax Credit from the Michigan Economic Growth Authority for the company's Lowell facility.

And that means the company will grow its business here.

The Right Place Inc. and the city of Lowell helped Attwood capture the state tax credit, which is worth $452,000 over the next seven years. Attwood is closing a manufacturing plant in Texas and is transferring that operation and 50 employees to its facility at 1016 N. Monroe St. in Lowell.

"The knowledge and assistance provided by The Right Place was instrumental in helping Attwood choose to expand operations right here in Michigan versus our other facility in (Forest Park) Georgia," said Attwood President Chris Dress in a statement.

"We are confident that the West Michigan region has the resources, work force and infrastructure that will enable Attwood to continue growing and expanding as a leader in marine parts and accessories," he added.

The $1.8 million project is expected to create 87 new jobs, a figure that includes the 50 at Attwood. The Attwood jobs are expected to pay an average of $570 a week. The firm will also offer health care benefits to employees and fund a portion of those benefits.

"These are the types of projects that will transform our economy in the 21st century and create good-paying jobs for our workers," said Gov. Jennifer Granholm.

The tax credit is used by MEGA to promote high-tech businesses in traditional and emerging industries and is a credit against the Michigan Business Tax. To qualify for the credit, a high-tech firm has to devote at least 25 percent of its total operating expenses to research and development.

MEGA lists 14 separate industries as being eligible for the credit, including manufacturing and materials technology. A credit can be awarded for up to 20 years and for up to the entire amount equal to the personal income generated from the project. At least five new jobs must be created within a year of starting operations at the project's facility, and 25 new jobs must be created within five years.

Forest Park and Georgia state officials tried to persuade Attwood to consolidate the Texas operation at that site, where the firm manufactures marine canvas and seating. Even though wages in Forest Park are reportedly lower than in Lowell, Attwood still chose Lowell as the place to merge its marine production.

"Attwood's decision to consolidate their operations in West Michigan demonstrates the superior capabilities of our region's work force and economic development officials," said Birgit Klohs, president and CEO of The Right Place.

Attwood is one of the area's oldest companies, founded in 1893 by Charles Attwood as Attwood Brass Works, which made parts for carriages and hearses. The company became a wholly owned subsidiary of Steelcase Inc. in 1964 and was acquired by Brunswick Corp. in 2003.

In addition to producing marine parts and accessories, with advanced engineering and test facilities for the marine industry, Attwood also makes deck hardware. The firm employs 170, with 114 of those workers at the Forest Park plant.

On top of the state tax credit, the city of Lowell awarded Attwood a $1 million property-tax abatement over the next dozen years.

"This was a tremendous win, not only for the city of Lowell, but for the state as a whole," said City Manager David Pasquale. "Competing with other states, like Georgia, is not easy. But we remained confident that the assets our region offers would win out in the end."

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