More activity from local manufacturers

June 18, 2012
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Two more Grand Rapids manufacturers received green lights for industrial tax breaks from city commissioners last week, and together they will invest $6.2 million into their respective businesses.

Pearson Foods, 1024 Ken-O-Sha Industrial Drive SE, plans to invest $1.4 million in machinery and equipment over the next two years and will increase its work force by five employees as a result of its investment. The personal property tax on its purchase will be cut in half for eight years because of the commission’s action.

“A wonderful food-processing business here and part of a growing industry,” said Mayor George Heartwell. City Economic Development Director Kara Wood said Pearson is a fresh-cut food processor that offers more than 200 fresh-cut fruits, vegetables and other wholesale products to retailers and food-service companies across the Midwest.

Pridgeon and Clay Inc., with three locations on Cottage Grove Street SW, will invest $4.8 million in new machinery to increase its production of automotive, marine and renewable energy products, and will hire 16 new workers over the next two years. The abatement will cut the company’s tax bill from the purchase, which includes a CNC matching center, in half for a dozen years.

Wood said the firm has 1,000 employees worldwide, with 650 stationed here.

According to the city’s Economic Development Office, those manufacturing investments bring the year’s total to nearly $12.3 million with more possibly coming, as commissioners also set public hearing dates for two additional abatements last week.

“We’re continuing to see a lot of activity from the manufacturing sector,” said Wood.

Specialty Glass Products, 1012 Ken-O-Sha Industrial Drive SE, wants to invest $675,000 into real and personal property improvements to help develop a new glass-painting process. The company is seeking an eight-year tax exemption and pledges to hire five new employees over the next two years from its investment.

“They paint glass; that’s their specialty,” said Wood. “They currently operate in Walker and are moving to Grand Rapids.”

Display Pack Inc. plans to invest $2.1 million into new machinery and create 10 new jobs over the next two years. The company, 1340 Monroe Ave. NW, is asking for an eight-year exemption.

“They have 180 employees in Grand Rapids,” said Wood.

“Right here in Grand Rapids we have a company that supplies packaging to all the giants in the country,” said Commissioner James White.

Commissioners will hold those public hearings this week.

Commissioners also terminated an industrial tax break for DornerWorks LTD last week because the firm did not invest $700,000 into real and personal property improvements and create 20 new jobs, as it agreed to do in 2009, within the state law’s two-year time frame. DornerWorks, 3445 Lake Eastbrook Blvd., did invest $265,000 during that period and paid the taxes on its investment.

“They planned to purchase the building next to them, but, unfortunately, they didn’t,” said Wood.

In addition to the industrial investments, the city hopes to see about $15.8 million invested this year from three brownfield projects approved a few months ago. Charter Development Co., a division of National Heritage Academies Inc., has said it will invest $7 million into the former Oakdale Elementary School to create the River City Scholars charter school. GR School Lofts LLC has promised to spend $8.7 million to turn the former Eastern and Lexington Elementary schools into apartment complexes. Detroit Affordable Homes Inc., a nonprofit housing developer in Southfield, is backing both projects.

More than $50 million in private investments were pledged in brownfield projects last year with $160 million approved in 2010. A total of $231.6 million in investments have been made or pledged in brownfield projects from 2010 through May of this year.

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