Economic Development, Government, and Manufacturing

More manufacturers are investing and growing

September 16, 2012
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City commissioners will hold public hearings next week for five manufacturers that are planning to make investments in their businesses and are asking for a 50 percent reduction on the real and personal property taxes tied to those investments.

The five will invest a combined $7.6 million and add up to 269 employees to their work forces over the next several years.

Kent Manufacturing, which serves the medical, electronic and automotive markets, along with others, wants to move from its current location at 1840 Oak Industrial Drive NE to 2200 Oak Industrial Drive NE. The company plans to build a 29,000-square-foot addition at its new site at a cost of $1.23 million and to spend another $297,000 on equipment over the next two years.

“They’ve outgrown their space,” said City Economic Development Director Kara Wood. “We’ve been working with Kent Manufacturing on their growth plans. This is a pretty substantial growth for them.”

Kent Manufacturing employs 50 people full time and will add four new positions with the move. Receiving a tax abatement from the investment would save the company $14,800 annually for eight years in city and state taxes.

Grand Rapids Aseptic Manufacturing, a life sciences firm at 140 Front St. SW, wants to invest $1.12 million in more office space and clean rooms for its production of sterile and freeze-dried components for the pharmaceutical industry. GR Aseptic also plans to invest $2.67 million into new equipment over the next few years.

“This was a partnership made by Van Andel Institute and Grand Valley State University,” said Wood. “They’re doing very well as a start-up company. They’ve only been around for five or six years.”

The company currently employs 19, but it will add up to 63 new jobs from its $3.79 million investment. A tax abatement would save GR Aseptic nearly $25,000 a year over eight years in city and state taxes.

ABLE Manufacturing, one of the city’s smallest industrial firms with six full-time employees, intends to spend $110,000 to add a horizontal machining center to its location at 601 Crosby St. NW. After it makes the investment, ABLE plans to hire a part-time machinist. An exemption will save ABLE $530 a year for eight years on its city and state property-tax bills.

“This is a small tool-and-die shop. They’re continuing to see growth,” said Wood. “This goes to show you the size and scope of the companies we work with.”

The Hansen-Balk Steel Treating Co., 1230 Monroe Ave. NW, wants to invest $682,072 into new machinery and equipment. The company, which serves the automotive, medical and aerospace industries, plans to make the purchases by the end of this year and add two employees to its current work force of 41.

“We’ve had a long-standing relationship with Hansen-Balk, and they continue to grow,” said Wood.

Hansen-Balk will save $5,347 yearly in city and state taxes for eight years with an abatement.

MedDirect Inc., which is based in Kentwood, is transferring 52 employees to 3855 Sparks Drive SE in Grand Rapids, where it will lease space. Wood said MedDirect will hire 200 additional workers over the next three years. The company is investing $1.5 million into office equipment and furniture for its new location.

MedDirect provides patient-customer service and patient-pay accounts-receivable management for the medical industry and has clients in all 50 states. The firm is asking for a seven-year, personal-property tax break that would cut nearly $12,200 a year from its tax bill.

“In December of 2011, MedDirect was acquired by MedData Holdings LLC and is now part of the MedData Inc. group of companies. As a result of this acquisition, MedData is able to market MedDirect’s services to its existing client base,” said Wood. “And as a result, MedDirect’s volumes and revenues are beginning to grow exponentially.”

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