Wyoming welcomes first occupant of former GM site
City officials hope to announce a second user this fall.
A division of Kendall Electric Inc. of Portage plans to break ground this fall on a new distribution, wholesale and manufacturing facility in Wyoming at Site 36 — the city administration’s marketing name for the cleared property formerly occupied by the massive General Motors stamping plant on 36th Street.
Kendall’s J.O. Galloup subsidiary plans to move by late 2014 into a 100,000-square-foot facility it will build on a 7.5-acre parcel within Site 36 along Clay Avenue SW. About 90 Galloup employees who now work at an existing facility in Grand Rapids will move to the new location.
Galloup is a manufacturer and distributor of industrial pipe, valves, fittings, process instrumentation and equipment, and fluid sealing devices. It was acquired by Kendall in late 2012.
The city of Wyoming’s stated goal has been for the former GM site to become the new home of advanced manufacturing companies, which are said to offer relatively high-paying jobs for factory work.
Site 36 is slightly more than 90 industrial acres Wyoming has been working to re-develop with marketing help from The Right Place regional economic development agency, and with development partner Lormax Stern.
The GM stamping plant, which opened in 1936, ceased production in May 2009. It had employed more than 1,500 people, and the two-million-square-foot plant paid the highest property tax bill in Wyoming, estimated to be about $1 million a year at the end. The site was sold in the GM bankruptcy for redevelopment in 2011, and the factory subsequently was demolished and cleared away.
Wyoming City Manager Curtis Holt said city officials are aware that the Galloup jobs are being moved from elsewhere in Grand Rapids, “but at least (the jobs) are not moving to the other side of the state or somewhere else.”
Holt noted the company’s 7.5-acre site was a parking lot adjacent to the GM plant. He said that fact is important to remember because “this is taking an underutilized parking lot and putting a $5 (million) to $7 million investment there with 90 jobs.”
Holt said Galloup paid $350,000 for the 7.5 acres, and the new facility will be divided into three sections: office space for sales, manufacturing and assembly, and warehousing.
Wyoming city officials said they expect to identify a second entity this fall that plans to locate at the site.
Holt said other companies have expressed interest in locating at Site 36.
“We believe in helping our local companies, so we work very hard at that,” said Holt, adding if there is an opportunity to get a local company on the site, the city will work to make it happen.
“It seems appropriate that the first company to locate on Site 36 is from our own backyard in West Michigan,” said Holt. “We are committed to growing companies locally and are as loyal to our business community as it is to us.”
Holt said Kendall Electric already has a facility elsewhere in Wyoming. “We know them. They’re a good partner here,” he added.
Martin Ranly, president and CEO of Kendall, said less than half of the employees at the new Galloup location will be manufacturing staff.
Kendall has more than 900 employees in 56 locations in Michigan, Indiana, Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia and Ohio. The new site in Wyoming will allow it to consolidate two current facilities in Grand Rapids into a larger, state-of-the-art building, according to the city’s announcement. The new facility also will house Smith Instruments, a specialty division of J.O. Galloup.
“We are extremely excited to continue investing in the West Michigan business market by relocating our J.O. Galloup operations to Wyoming,” said Ranly. “We have many customers in this market, and we hope they see that this move is an investment in their future as well as ours.”
“Site 36 is an excellent location that fits perfectly with what we need for our business expansion,” added Ranly. “This is an incredibly attractive site, which offers great infrastructure and easy access for logistics.”
Wyoming City Commissioners reviewed and approved the sale of the property and the development agreement. In its news release, the city said the property is eligible for a 12-year personal property tax abatement and brownfield redevelopment dollars through tax incremental financing, or TIF, of up to $250,000 or for 10 years. TIF funds will be used for demolition related to site preparation needs.
Holt told the Business Journal the personal property tax abatement probably won’t last much longer than a year or two because the Michigan legislature has enacted legislation phasing out that tax on industrial properties.
Established in 1973, Kendall Electric is an electrical equipment distributor serving commercial, government, contractor, health care, educational, industrial and other markets throughout the United States. Kendall is a 100 percent employee-owned company.
Meanwhile, the city continues to work with The Right Place to market Site 36, which it said is one of the largest tracts of open industrial land in the region. The city said Site 36 has high-quality industrial infrastructure for water, sewer and power, convenient access to both rail and roads, and that being in Wyoming is also a benefit because the city has “low taxes and a highly skilled work force.”
The property is bounded by U.S. 131, Buchanan Street SW, 36th Street SW and 40th Street SW. More information on the property is at site36plan.com.