Wal-Mart Coming To Dorr

May 26, 2006
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DORR TOWNSHIP — Dorr Township is in competition with a mid-Michigan township for a 1 million-square-foot Wal-Mart distribution center.

The Allegan County town is a finalist with Isabella County’s Union Township, which surrounds Mount Pleasant.

A distribution center is the equivalent of 10 retail stores, according to the national chain’s Web site. The center would be the third distribution center in the state.

James Collin, Union Township supervisor, said he knew of the competition between the two sites.

“We’re in competition with a community in (the Grand Rapids’) area called Dorr,” Collin said. “They are or have been mentioned to be in the loop.”

Collin said Union Township officials have been working with Wal-Mart officials for about two years on the proposed center.

“Corporate is getting ready to make a final decision pretty quick,” he said.

Collin had plans to meet with Wal-Mart officials last Thursday, after which the information will go to a corporate board and the decision will be made.

“I’m thinking it will be sometime in June,” he said.

Dorr Township Supervisor Don Kaczanowski acknowledged that there was “a possibility of something coming in the area,” but said he was not at liberty to discuss it.

Collin said whichever community is chosen, it will be an economic boon for the state.

“It would provide from 500 to 700 jobs for our community, which in Michigan right now is always a plus,” he said. “Our local region has been kind of devastated by the closing of stuff and a loss of jobs. There’s a need to re-employ those people.”

While the process has been a long one, Collin said the townships just have to wait for the decision to be made by Wal-Mart.

“We can’t make them move any faster, we just have to move at their will,” he said.

The decision could come at a volatile time for distribution centers in Michigan. Senate Bill 1111, commonly referred to as PA 198, has been passed by the Senate and is waiting approval by the House. If approved, the bill would change the definition of “qualified commercial activity” within the definition of “industrial property,” allowing for less restrictive eligibility for a PA 198 property tax abatement.

Sen. Cameron Brown, R-Fawn River Township, sponsored the bill to help local governments in Michigan in bids to offer tax abatements, said Brown’s legislative director, Jeanne Laimon.

“This would include large distribution centers and logistics centers,” she said. “It would be a local decision, and it’s not mandatory that a company would come in and be able to get that tax abatement.”

The bill is also sponsored by Michigan Sens. Ken Sikkema, R-Wyoming, Patricia Birkholz, R-Saugatuck Township, and Jerry VanWoerkom, R-Norton Shores.

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