Abatements Down Investments Up

March 7, 2003
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LANSING — Last year wasn’t a banner year for manufacturing in Michigan, but maybe things weren’t all that dreadful for industrial firms in the state, and the county, in 2002.

According to the Michigan Economic Development Corp., the number of industrial property tax abatements issued last year for expansions or new equipment purchases was down by nearly 12 percent across the state from 2001. But the amount invested in those fewer projects easily exceeded the investment-dollar figure from 2001 by 81 percent.

In 2002, 560 Public Act 198 tax abatements were approved statewide, compared to 634 in 2001.

In 2001, those 634 abatements represented $3.2 billion in investments throughout the state. In 2002, the 560 projects were worth $5.8 billion — dramatically more than the $3.2 billion from the previous year.

Thirty-six new jobs were created on average from each abatement last year, five more than the 2001 statewide average.

New projects from large firms like Pfizer and General Motors pumped up the total dollars invested last year. MEDC Vice President of Community Services John Czarnecki reported that highly automated power generation plants also accounted for the higher investment figures.

Kent County led all Michigan counties in handing out abatements last year with 64 from 13 municipalities, which accounted for $147 million worth of investments and 638 new jobs. The average investment countywide was about $2.3 million and an average of 10 new jobs were created by each project last year.

But only five of those 64 abatements were issued by Grand Rapids and the $2.47 million invested in those projects was the lowest figure in recent memory.

Walker granted 13 abatements, edging Kentwood and Wyoming by one to claim the top spot in the county. Firms in Walker will invest $42.7 million in those projects and add 191 new jobs to the city’s economy. Ridgeview Industries Inc. received the largest abatements from Walker; one was for a $7.75 million investment and one was for a $15.2 million project.

The dozen abatements in Kentwood accounted for $42.9 million worth of investments, slightly more than the Walker figure, and 97 new jobs. The $14.7 million investment made by Steelcase Inc. for its 52nd Street contacts plant earned the largest abatement from the city and it retained 91 jobs.

The Wyoming dozen were worth $22.4 million in investments and 80 new jobs. The largest investment, $4.6 million, was made by the Holland American Wafer Co. to retain 100 jobs at its Keebler plant on 28th Street.

Other municipalities in Kent County that granted industrial abatements last year were Alpine Township (3), Byron Township (3), Cascade Township (2), Grandville (3), Lowell (2), Plainfield Township (4), Rockford (1), Vergennes Township (1), and the Village of Sparta (3).           

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