Tuesday, September 21, 2004
Company to Invest $400,000 in Expansion, Create 20 New Jobs
Governor Jennifer M. Granholm today announced $200,000 in Community Development Block Grant funding to the city of Ishpeming to support the expansion of Bell Forest Products, Inc., which will create 20 new jobs. The grant, made available through the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), will fund public infrastructure improvements needed for the company's $400,000 expansion.
"This is great news for Ishpeming," Granholm said. "The funding will make it possible for Bell Forest to grow its business and quadruple its workforce to meet the demand for its unique wood products and create valuable revenue for the city."
Ishpeming will use the CDBG funds and another $22,000 in matching funds to help upgrade a city-owned building to accommodate the expansion. Building improvements include a new heating system, roof, bathrooms, windows as well as upgrades to the water and sewer systems. Bell Forest Products will then lease the building from the city.
"This is a great example of cooperation between the private sector, the city and the state to improve the economy of our area," said Ishpeming Mayor Gary Nelson. "The primary beneficiaries will be low and moderate income individuals."
Bell Forest Products is a supplier of figured hardwoods to the custom furniture, billiards and guitar making industries. The wood products are made mostly from bird's-eye and curly hard maple which is unique to Michigan's Upper Peninsula and among the rarest of all timber.
The MEDC is able to award up to approximately $50 million in federal CDBG funds each year. There are 1,655 local governments within the state eligible to apply for these funds. Projects are approved contingent upon compliance with state and federal requirements.
"CDBG funding is the best tool we have for ensuring that communities have sufficient public utilities to accommodate new and expanding business," said MEDC President and CEO Don Jakeway. "We appreciate Bell Forest for continuing to partner with Ishpeming to create new jobs in the community."
In her 2004 State of the State address, Governor Granholm announced her plan to make Michigan a global economic powerhouse in the 21st century. So far this year, the Governor and the MEDC have announced the creation or retention of approximately 29,059 jobs as a result of targeted assistance provided by the MEDC.
The Michigan Economic Development Corporation, a partnership between the state and local communities, promotes smart economic growth by developing strategies and providing services to create and retain good jobs and a high quality of life.