Granholm Announces Three Companies Expanding in West Michigan, Creating 1,791 New Jobs

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Michigan chosen over competing sites in Indiana, China

Governor Jennifer M. Granholm today announced that three companies - Genesis Seating, Inc. (Kentwood), Bissell, Inc. (Walker), and Sequenom, Inc. (Grand Rapids) - are expanding operations in Western Michigan as a result of assistance from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC). Combined, the projects are expected to create 1,791 new jobs and involve more than $37.1 million in new capital investment. Each company chose Michigan over competing sites in other states and countries.

“These company expansions create hundreds of jobs in West Michigan and will help bolster our efforts to grow and diversify Michigan’s economy,” Granholm said. “Our top-notch workforce is attracting investment from companies in a wide array of business sectors.”

The three projects announced today:  

Sequenom– TheSan Diego-based company is a genetics and molecular diagnostic company providing genetic analysis products and services as well as diagnostic tests addressing prenatal genetic disorders, oncology and infectious diseases. The company is creating a second research location by purchasing lab space in Grand Rapids. The facility will be used to further develop its non-invasive prenatal tests, which will provide new abilities to test for genetic disorders as early as the first trimester of pregnancy.  With additional growth, the company plans to build its own lab in Grand Rapids in the next few years. Sequenom was also considering purchasing labs in Tennessee and Indiana.  The Right Place worked with the company as well as the city of Grand Rapids and the MEDC to develop an incentive package valued at $20 million over 12 years.  The project includes a capital investment of approximately $20.25 million over five years and the creation of up to 523 jobs by 2013. An economic analysis conducted by the MEDC estimates the project will create 618 spin-off jobs.
Leggett & Platt Inc. d.b.a. Genesis Seating, Inc. –The furniture manufacturer plans to invest $9.1 million to expand operations in West Michigan. Genesis Seating will invest $3 million to relocate from Cascade Twp. and expand in Kentwood.The project is expected to create 131 new jobs. Davidson Plyforms, which currently shares the facility with Genesis in Cascade Twp., will invest $5.6 million to utilize the new space being vacated and create 45 new jobs. A third component of the project includes a $620,000 expansion by Grand River Polishing (recently purchased by Leggett & Platt) at its Spring Lake Twp.facility. The Grand River Polishing project is expected to create 57 new jobs. Combined, the projects are expected to create 439 new jobs, including 233 directly by the company. An economic analysis conducted by the MEDC estimates an additional 206 indirect jobs will be generated. Based on the MEDC’s recommendation, the MEGA board today approved a state tax credit valued at $2 million over 10 years to help secure the expansions in Michigan over competingsites in Indiana. The cities of Kentwood, Cascade Township and Spring Lake Township plan to support the project with property tax abatements.
Bissell, Inc. –Bissell Inc. is one of the largest and oldest suppliers and manufacturers of floor-care products in the world, with products including sweepers, vacuums, deep-cleaning machines and cleaning formulas. Bissell plans to invest approximately $9 million in an expansion and the opening an Innovation Center at its facility in Walker. The Innovation Center would be a centralized location for research and development related to Bissell’s new and existing product lines. The project is expected to create 214 jobs, including 106 directly by the company.An economic analysis conducted by the MEDC estimates the project will generate an additional 108 indirect jobs. Based on the MEDC’s recommendation, the MEGA board today approved a state tax credit valued at $2.4 million to help convince the company to invest in Michigan over a competing site in China. The city of Walker plans to support this project with a tax abatement and a 12-year Industrial Facilities tax abatement.

“Thanks to solid teamwork and innovative economic development tools, we were able to secure these expansions,” MEDC President and CEO James C. Epolito said. “These projects would not have happened without the collaborative efforts of our local community partners helping us make the best business case for Michigan.”

The Western Michigan projects are three of 18 economic development projects the governor announced today. In all, they are expected to create and retain a total of 21,602 Michigan jobs.

“The diversity of our business base is a significant asset for West Michigan, and these projects are evidence of that,” said Right Place President and CEO Birgit Klohs. “They also show the increasing innovation capacity and overall growth we are seeing in our life sciences and industrial design sectors. We have a significant strategic focus and dedication to both sectors, and these projects demonstrate that West Michigan is moving from potential to reality in those areas.”

In her 2008 State of the State address, Granholm emphasized the importance of creating opportunity in the changing world of the 21st century. Since January 2005, the Governor and the MEDC have announced the creation or retention of more than 379,000 jobs as a result of targeted assistance provided by the MEDC.

About Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC)

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation is the state’s marketing arm and lead advocate for business development, job awareness and community development with the focus on growing Michigan’s economy. For more information on the MEDC and our initiatives, visit For Pure Michigan® tourism information, your trip begins at Join the conversation on: Facebook Instagram LinkedIn, and Twitter.