Employers inject value into Jamestown Township
Officials say two manufacturers’ combined $25M expansion will have significant ripple effects.
Officials in the Jamestown Township area say it’s a good place to call “home” — and two local manufacturers appear to agree.
West Michigan economic development agency Lakeshore Advantage last month announced MFP Automation Engineering and Royal Technologies are planning “major growth projects” in Jamestown Charter Township, representing $25 million total in private investment — $2 million by MFP and $23 million by Royal.
The projects are expected to create over 140 more jobs in the township, which had a population of 7,034 as of the 2010 U.S. Census.
“Both Royal Technologies and MFP Automation Engineering are employers who invest generously in their talent force, dedicated to providing great manufacturing jobs in this community,” said Jennifer Owens, president of Lakeshore Advantage. “To see them both continue to invest through their expansions reinforces that commitment to their growth here.”
MFP Automation Engineering
Founded in 1991, MFP Automation Engineering is a manufacturer and distributor of automation products specializing in pneumatics, hydraulics, custom manifolds, fluid power and more. It has more than 50 employees, according to its LinkedIn profile.
It has begun work on a 30,000-square-foot building adjacent to its existing facility that will accommodate growth in the operations and production functions, creating 75 jobs within two years of completion.
Roger Betten, president of MFP Automation Engineering, said the company values service and “continuous improvement,” which is why he is excited for an expansion that will increase output and serve the community by creating jobs.
“We chose Jamestown because we love the community, (there is) potential local talent, and my personal business goal is to operate as much as possible out of one location,” Betten said.
“Even though this is a new building, it’s literally 200 yards away from our current building. Good family (and) business culture is a huge focus (in Jamestown), and it seems easier to keep our ‘family communications’ together if we’re all in the same location.”
Founded in 1987, Royal Technologies is a technology-based plastic injection molding company with more than 1,000 employees, according to its LinkedIn profile.
The company is constructing a 50,000-square-foot warehouse and a 270,000-square-foot manufacturing facility on an approximately 24-acre plot of land adjacent to its existing facilities on Quincy Street. The project is expected to create 66 jobs.
Jim Vander Kolk, president of Royal Technologies, declined to comment for this story but said in a statement the company’s teamwork, excellence and customer service drove “the need for this expansion.”
Incentives for growth
The township approved a 12-year tax abatement for Royal and MFP’s expansions, but Jamestown is not unique in offering that; most local governments do so as a tool for business attraction.
“The real incentive is the working relationship that businesses develop with the township staff. We have a ‘can-do’ attitude” for businesses, as long as they meet ordinances and other conditions, said Ken Bergwerff, Jamestown Township supervisor.
Bergwerff said he sees many additional reasons the companies chose to expand in Jamestown, including access to main highways M-6 and I-196, the township’s community feel, the “top-notch” Hudsonville Public Schools and excellent infrastructure in the industrial zoned area.
“Our relationship with DTE and Consumers Energy makes it possible for industry to come in and have their needs met,” he said. “For example, Consumers Energy just constructed a new substation to meet the growing demand. But the real reason (is) why would they want to be anywhere else if they could be here?”
Owens said Royal could have expanded in Alabama or Texas where it already has facilities, but West Michigan’s manufacturing workforce, access to the state of Michigan’s Going PRO Talent Fund (formerly the Skilled Trades Training Fund) and Jamestown’s amenities made a strong case for expanding here.
“That Jamestown/Hudsonville corridor for a lot of manufacturers has been ideal because they’re so close to the interchange, and they can recruit workers from all over the Grand Rapids metropolitan statistical area, so I think for both of them, it’s having that key location right off the highway, within 10 miles of a million people.”
Bergwerff said the community will see a ripple effect from these expansions because the additional population of workers will spawn business growth in other parts of the economy, including retail, restaurants, banking, real estate and more.
“The ripple effect is that the threshold for this growth is now here,” he said.
Jamestown holds a special place in Bergwerff’s heart, and he believes the town’s quality is largely why this investment happened.
“I know this sounds corny, but Jamestown is a great place to call home,” he said. “Private citizens who live here feel that way, and so do many of the businesses and industries that have located here.”