Food vendor moving to Grand Rapids

September 16, 2011
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A longtime Cedar Springs tortilla chip and snack-food maker intends to move its operations into Grand Rapids. Great Lakes Festida Holdings LLC, which has manufactured private label tortilla chips and other snacks in Cedar Springs for 22 years, needs more space for its growing business and wants to move to Union Station industrial park on the city’s southwest side.

Great Lakes wants to invest nearly $3.5 million into its new location at 219 Canton St. SW and purchase new manufacturing equipment for its operations. The company currently employs 30 and plans to add 20 workers once the move is completed.

Great Lakes has asked the City Commission to accept the transfer of an industrial tax abatement it was granted in 2004 and to approve a new exemption request for the investment it will make in real and personal property in Grand Rapids. Commissioners will hold a public hearing on both requests next week. The existing abatement expires in 2016, while the new request is for 12 years.

City Economic Development Director Kara Wood said Great Lakes tried to find a new location in Cedar Springs but couldn’t come up with the right site. She said the company liked Union Station, which was developed by the Robert Grooters Development Co. alongside U.S. 131, because it provides a central location for its workers and because the firm got a good deal on the lease.

Commissioners will also hold public hearings for three other abatement requests next week.

Grand Rapids Spring and Stamping plans to purchase two new presses and related equipment at a cost of $2.3 million for its plant at 706 Bond Ave. NW in the Monroe North Business District. GRS&S is asking for an eight-year exemption, which would cut its tax liability in half over that timeframe. “They’re acquiring two news presses and we’ll have four new jobs,” said Wood.

The Ideal Printing Co., which operates at 2801 Oak Industrial Drive NE under the name of Custom Printers, wants to invest $475,000 in a new digital printing press. Ideal currently employs 51 and plans to add two full-time employees from this investment. The firm is asking for a 12-year personal property abatement. Wood said the metro area has a lot of quality printers like Ideal that have some of the best printing equipment in the world.

Able Manufacturing, a small machine parts maker at 601 Crosby St. NW, wants to buy a new vertical machining lathe, a bar feeder and a manual CNC lathe for $151,000 and is requesting a personal property exemption for 12 years. Able employs four full-time workers and doesn’t plan to add any employees from the investment, which is expected to keep the firm competitive in its field. “I think this shows the commitment the city has to its smaller employers,” said Commissioner Dave Schaffer.

If state legislators eliminate the personal property tax, Wood said the approved exemptions for P.A. 328, a personal property tax abatement, and the personal property tax portion of P.A. 198 would become irrelevant. The real property tax portion of P.A. 198, though, would remain relevant. Commercial firms, manufacturers and utilities pay taxes on personal property, which includes machinery, equipment and office items. Local governments receive the tax and have asked lawmakers to offer a replacement for the revenue that would be lost if the personal property tax is erased.

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