- people on the move
MEDC Provides 45 Million For West Michigan Projects
The senior vice president of business services for the Michigan Economic Development Corp. made the West Michigan rounds last week on a check dropping-off tour that brought big smiles to the faces of public officials in Kalamazoo, Battle Creek and Grand Rapids.
Kaczmarek’s tour was an opportunity for the MEDC to announce that it was distributing more than $9 million in loans for seven projects across the state. The loans come from the state’s Core Communities Initiatives, a program that lawmakers created to help revitalize centers of commerce, create new jobs and spark private-sector investment.
At his stop in Grand Rapids, Kaczmarek said the seven projects would generate more than $110 million from the private sector.
“If Michigan is to succeed economically, its cities have to be successful,” said Kaczmarek.
Grand Rapids got the largest West Michigan check totaling $2.5 million, a loan the city will use in the resurgent North Monroe Business District. Kaczmarek said the money was earmarked for a badly needed parking ramp and street and sidewalk repairs.
“We didn’t need this about four or five years ago when the buildings there were sitting cold-steel empty,” said Mayor John Logie.
Logie pointed out that the city’s partnership with the state in the Renaissance Zone and Brownfield Redevelopment programs, along with the initiative of local business people, have rebuilt the district.
“It has been that dynamism, that entrepreneurial spirit that has made this change happen,” said the mayor.
“The city has made good use of the tools we have given them,” added former State Rep. Bill Byl, who represented State Sen. Glenn Steil at the check-presentation ceremony.
Kalamazoo and Battle Creek each received a $1 million loan.
Battle Creek will use the money to expand the Fort Custer Industrial Park by making infrastructure improvements to a 62-acre portion of the park. Kalamazoo officials will build a new grocery store and retail complex on the former Kalamazoo Label site and a day care facility on the former Lockshore Dairy property.
Other cities receiving Core Communities loans were Detroit, which got two, Lansing and Saginaw. The loans are principal- and interest-free for the first five years. Then the interest rate is set at 5 percent.
Kaczmarek said his recent tour marked the first round of distributing Core Communities loans to project winners. For the round, the MEDC received 19 funding requests that asked for $47.8 million.
In all, the MEDC will award $50 million for projects that fall into one of three categories; economic development, community product development and certified technology, or smart parks. Kaczmarek said an announcement concerning smart parks would likely be coming next month.