Four GR manufacturers get tax breaks

October 21, 2011
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Grand Rapids Spring & Stamping was the first of four firms that were granted industrial tax breaks recently by city commissioners.

The application from GRS&S was approved for eight years; the longtime local manufacturer plans to invest $2.3 million in personal property at its Bond Avenue NW plant. The company, which employs 120 in the city and largely supplies the automotive and office-furniture sectors, will buy two 600-ton presses and related equipment and will create eight new full-time jobs from that investment. The city stands to gain nearly $7,000 in new personal property and income taxes each year from the purchase, and will abate roughly $4,800 in each year of the eight-year abatement, fewer years than the 12-year standard.

“If the investment is going to be depreciated in a shorter amount of time, we like to make the abatement shorter,” said Kara Wood, city economic development director.

Commissioners also gave Able Manufacturing the abatement green light for its investment of $151,000 in a new vertical machining lathe, a Haas Servo bar feeder and a manual CNC lathe. Able, at 601 Crosby St. NW, makes machine parts and has four full-time employees. The 12-year exemption will cut the firm’s taxes from the personal property purchase in half to $319 per year.

“They are going to be able to offer a wider variety of services,” said Wood.

Great Lakes Festida Holdings LLC received two exemptions from commissioners. One is a new 12-year abatement that will allow the company to invest $3.5 million in equipment and at its new location in Union Station at 219 Canton St. SW. The other is a transfer of an abatement Festida received in 2004 for a $280,000 investment in personal property at its Cedar Springs site, an exemption that continues through 2016.

Festida, which produces private label tortilla chips and snack foods for retail and commercial industries, employs 30 and plans to add 20 employees in the next two years because of its move to Grand Rapids. The company, which has been in business for 22 years, decided to leave Cedar Springs because it had outgrown its location there. The city expects to gross $20,000 annually in new tax revenue from the firm’s relocation.

“We will be transferring $280,000 worth of equipment to the city, and they will be investing $3.5 million here,” said Wood of the firm’s move to Union Station.

Commissioners also granted Ideal Printing Co. a 12-year exemption. The company plans to spend more than $640,000 on two digital printers for its location at 2801 Oak Industrial Drive NE. Ideal employs 51 and will add four full-time jobs from its latest investment. The city will receive about $3,000 in new personal property and income tax revenue each year for the next dozen years. Ideal operates under the name Custom Printers.

The state still has to ratify all the applications.

While approving the exemptions, city commissioners also set public hearing dates this week for two more abatements, both for 253 Prospect LLC. One hearing is to establish an obsolete property district for the two-story structure at 253 Prospect Ave. NE; the other is for the rehab project’s tax exemption.

The building is a former church that is currently vacant. The firm wants to renovate and convert it into 22 condominiums at an estimated cost of $2 million. The work is expected to begin in January and be completed across the structure’s 20,000 square feet in July. The hearings will be held tomorrow; the city doesn’t expect to receive any new tax revenue from the project.

“A lot of investment has to be made in it. I know they’re working closely with the neighborhood and the residents,” said Wood.

“The prior owners began interior demolition. I don’t know how much work they got done, but it was in pretty bad shape then,” said Commissioner Rosalynn Bliss. “It’s a beautiful building — a really beautiful building.”

Commissioners also will hold a public hearing Nov. 15 on a proposed property-tax exemption for a nonprofit housing developer. New Development Corp. wants to renovate two single-family houses at 456 Spencer St. NE and 1314 Carman Ave. NE and is asking for exemptions for both projects.

“The only developer we have this year requesting this is New Development,” said Connie Bohatch, managing director of community services for the city.

Under city policy, commissioners can designate exemptions for nonprofit-owned single-family homes and duplexes that will be rehabbed, along with vacant lots that will be built on, and sold to low-income buyers. The exemption lasts for two years or until the property is sold, whichever comes first.

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