Building Michigan’s automotive future

Kathleen Achtenberg

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

American Center for Mobility, business expansions, community revitalization projects approved by MSF board

Funding to assist with projects including the American Center for Mobility – a project intended to secure Michigan’s future as the global leader of the automotive industry – was approved March 22 by the Michigan Strategic Fund, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation announced.

“Michigan is proud of its auto heritage, but our goal is to be the leader in this industry for generations to come,” Gov. Rick Snyder said. “We need to stay on the cutting edge of technology connected with our vehicles. The approval of start-up funds for the American Center for Mobility will help keep Michigan leader and continue to create more and better jobs in a thriving automotive industry.

MSF today approved a $2,999,900 million performance-based grant and $100 equity investment in funds transferred from the Michigan Business Development Program to the Willow Run Arsenal of Democracy Landholdings Limited Partnership.

The grant request is to facilitate environmental, consulting, and other professional due diligence, and toward the property acquisition, and to provide start-up support for the American Center for Mobility. The LP will continue to work with RACER Trust to pursue closing on the property in the coming months.

 Located at the Willow Run site in Ypsilanti Township, the center will help accelerate advanced mobility vehicle development safety while bringing economic opportunity to southeast Michigan and the United States.

The American Center for Mobility is a joint initiative among the State of Michigan – including the Michigan Department of Transportation and MEDC, the University of Michigan, Business Leaders for Michigan and Ann Arbor SPARK. The board of directors includes representatives from the university, BLM, SPARK, which initiated the project and will play a key role in economic development tied to the center. Automotive industry and community advisory boards will also be established.

Stoneridge Inc. is a global designer and manufacturer of highly engineered electrical and electronic components, modules, and systems for the commercial vehicle, automotive, off-highway and agriculture vehicle markets.

The company has experienced significant growth and continues to expand into more diverse product lines and geographic markets. It plans to relocate its headquarters from Warren, Ohio, to the city of Novi to further bolster its access to customers, decision makers and development activities in the automotive technology market segment.

The company has been awarded a $1.4 million Michigan Business Development Program performance-based grant that will support the creation of at least 70 highly paid jobs, as well as provide flexibility for up to 70 additional jobs to support the company’s future growth needs and total capital investment of more than $5.1 million.

Michigan was chosen over competing sites due to its distinct advantage of being the automotive center with access to customers, engineering capabilities and talent. The city of Novi has offered support to the project in the form of property tax abatement. People interested in careers with Stoneridge should visit

MSF approved $400,000 in funding through the Michigan Strategic Fund Act for RecoveryPark & RecoveryPark Farms, an independent, 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization that was established in 2010 in Detroit with a mission to create sustainable jobs for people with barriers to employment.

RecoveryPark Farms is a social enterprise that was launched in 2014 in Detroit to grow branded, specialty herbs and produce to sell to local chefs as a means to provide job opportunities and funding for RecoveryPark.

The organizations plan to acquire and redevelop about 105 acres of land on the east side of Detroit, where they will develop indoor and climate controlled growing technologies. The first phase of the project launch will generate a total capital investment of up to $1.9 million and create 43 jobs for unemployed or underemployed Detroiters.

Wrap-around services will also be provided, including housing and transportation assistance, medical/mental health assistance, professional and personal coaching, soft skills training and basic needs. For more information on RecoveryPark, visit; for information on RecoveryPark Farms, visit

The city of Bay City Brownfield Redevelopment Authority received approval of $742,350 in local and school tax capture to develop a functionally obsolete building located at 501 Saginaw Street in downtown Bay City into a modern, 100-room hotel.

The project will generate a total capital investment of more than $6.7 million and create 20 full-time equivalent jobs. The tax capture will be used to alleviate brownfield conditions across the site, asbestos abatement, demolition work, and renovation of interior spaces.

The completed project will provide a catalyst for redevelopment and will help downtown Bay City attract major events and conferences, bring tourists to the area, and support local businesses. The project has also been awarded a 12-year, Obsolete Properties Rehabilitation Act tax abatement at the local and state levels, with a total value of $898,000.

The city of Grand Rapids Brownfield Redevelopment Authority received approval of $837,598 in local and school tax capture for the redevelopment of three parcels of property at the corner of Carlton and Fulton Streets in Grand Rapids.

The completed project, Fulton Square, will consist of two new buildings with retail space, restaurant space and a total of 47 market rate apartments. The project will generate a total capital investment of $8.65 million and create 15 to 20 full-time equivalent jobs. The tax capture will be used for demolition activities, site preparation and infrastructure improvements. The project is also seeking a Neighborhood Enterprise Zone property tax abatement valued at $420,112 over 12 years.

MSF also approved a grant of $5 million over five years from the 21st Century Jobs Fund to support the creation, start-up costs, and capital needs of a new Michigan-China Innovation Center to be located in Michigan.

MCIC will focus on operating an entrepreneurial and bi-directional business gateway between Michigan and China to generate jobs in Michigan, increase private foreign investment in the state, and expand business-to-business matchmaking in Michigan and more.

MCIC will supply business development services to MEDC that will focus on marketing Michigan opportunities to Chinese business investors; delivering business-to-business matchmaking services; and deploying economic development professionals to build relationships, host investors in Michigan and provide the critical support necessary to close deals that will ultimately result in the creation of jobs in Michigan.

MCIC will be governed by a board of directors and supported by an advisory board which will include MEDC/MSF representation. 

Several other items approved today include:

• Approval of the operation of the Redevelopment Ready Communities Program under direction of the community development division.

• Approval of the operation of the Michigan Main Street Program under the direction of under direction of the community development division.

• Approval of four Requests for Proposals for the following; tourism promotion representative in China; Travel Michigan marketing and advertising; public relations and social media; and business marketing and advertising (a separate press release with details on the RFPs will be issued later in the week).

“We’ve made great progress in Michigan, and we need to continue working to boost investment in our state and create more and better jobs,” MEDC CEO Steve Arwood said. “Today’s projects, including providing start-up funds for the new American Center for Mobility, business expansions and transformational projects in Bay City and Grand Rapids downtowns, will fuel new economic activity across Michigan, strengthen communities, and create employment.

Pure Michigan is a brand representing business, talent and tourism initiatives across Michigan. These efforts are driven by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, which serves as the state’s marketing arm and lead advocate for business growth, jobs and opportunity with a focus on helping grow Michigan’s economy.

For more on the MEDC and its initiatives, visit For Michigan travel news, updates and information, visit residents interested in seeking employment with any of Michigan’s growing companies should check, where more than 98,000 jobs are currently available in a variety of industries.

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