• Two projects expected to generate total private investment of $34 million, create 77 jobs • Aircraft maintenance provider Duncan Aviation bringing at least 61 jobs to Battle Creek, investing in excess of $30 million • Contract manufacturer West Michigan Tool & Die expanding in Benton Harbor Township, investing more than $4 million
LANSING, Mich. – Governor Gretchen Whitmer joined the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) today to announce two business expansion projects expected to create 77 new jobs and generate a total private investment of more than $34 million in Battle Creek and Benton Harbor Township have received support from the Michigan Strategic Fund.
“Today’s investments in Battle Creek and Benton Harbor Township creating 77 advanced manufacturing jobs will help us continue growing Michigan’s economy and helping working families thrive,” said Governor Gretchen Whitmer. “The businesses making these investments received support from the bipartisan Michigan Strategic Fund, one of several economic development tools that we worked across the aisle to establish. When we put Michiganders first, we can invest in our talented manufacturing workforce and help innovative businesses grow.”
Duncan Aviation, founded in 1956, is the largest family-owned aircraft maintenance and repair company in the world. The company provides aircraft services for a wide variety of business aircraft at its 39 facilities across the United States. Duncan Aviation currently employs 638 people at its location in Battle Creek.
The company must expand in order to maintain its market share and plans on expanding at its Battle Creek facility, where it will add one hangar, three support buildings and a new vehicle maintenance building. The project is expected to generate a total capital investment of more than $30 million and create at least 61 high-wage jobs, supported by a $488,000 Michigan Business Development Program performance-based grant. Michigan was chosen for the project over competing sites in Nebraska and Utah.
“At Duncan Aviation, we are excited to expand on over twenty-four years of success in Michigan. This new facility will provide dozens of career opportunities for members of our local community and opportunities for advancement by our existing team members,” said Duncan Aviation Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Andy Richards. “We appreciate the ongoing support from the state of Michigan and the city of Battle Creek. We couldn't ask for better partners.”
The project will bring immediate high-wage advanced manufacturing jobs to the area. The company also utilizes its local Michigan Works! agency to reach local talent in disadvantaged areas and underrepresented employees. Duncan Aviation is a steadfast partner with Southwest Michigan communities, offering an apprenticeship program for unskilled workers.
The Battle Creek Tax Increment Finance Authority and city of Battle Creek have offered $2.5 million to assist with the addition of a tarmac around the hangar. For information on careers with Duncan Aviation, visit https://www.duncanaviation.aero/careers/.
“Duncan Aviation is an exemplary company, providing high-quality, good-paying jobs. Duncan Aviation is always at the table partnering with the city of Battle Creek, BCU, and community stakeholders to develop workforce and economic development solutions,” said Battle Creek Unlimited President and CEO Joe Sobieralski. “We are thrilled they chose Battle Creek to expand once again, growing to nearly 700 employees in the city of Battle Creek.”
Bulk Ag Innovations LLC, dba West Michigan Tool & Die (WMTD), is a contract tool and die shop in Benton Harbor Township. The company is primarily engaged in manufacturing special tools and fixtures for use with machine tools, die-casting machines and presses. Through its acquisition by Bulk Ag Innovations in 2018, the company has achieved minority business enterprise certification through the Michigan Minority Supplier Development Council and is gaining new opportunities in defense contracts. Currently, WMTD has 15 employees in Michigan.
Due to increased demand, WMTD is expanding its existing footprint in Benton Harbor Township, including adding a bay and reconfiguring its machining building. The project is expected to generate a total capital investment of $3.4 million and create 22 jobs, supported by a $88,000 Micro Michigan Business Development Program performance-based grant. Michigan was chosen for the project over a competing site in Chicago.
“The West Michigan Tool & Die team is excited to see this project go forward, which will expand our capabilities at our in Benton Harbor Township facility, which is in a federal HUBZone and is certified as such. WMTD is also looking forward to offering our expanded capabilities to new and existing clients as we work to leverage our Minority Business Enterprise certification to offer supplier diversity to the market,” said WMTD CEO Victor Mowatt. “MEDC, Michigan Works! and the Cornerstone Alliance have helped us to maintain during the last few challenging years and emerge ready for growth. We look forward to new opportunities and team members.”
The project will bring immediate advanced manufacturing job opportunities to residents of a disadvantaged area of the state. WMTD offers on-the-job training that will provide opportunities for growth from within and is working on a toolmaker apprenticeship program to further develop the talent it needs to operate and grow.
Local economic development organization Cornerstone Alliance has provided staff time in support of the project.
“We are thrilled West Michigan Tool & Die will be expanding in Benton Harbor Township as the project will bring immediate job opportunities in advanced manufacturing to residents,” said Cornerstone Alliance Business Development Manager Cathy Tilley. “We congratulate West Michigan Tool & Die for their ongoing success.”
The West Michigan Tool & Die project was supported through the Micro MBDP tool, adopted by the Michigan Strategic Fund in 2019. The Micro MBDP is designed to promote business growth especially in rural areas or areas with high unemployment as well as target industries. The Micro MBDP provides grants, loans, or other economic assistance to businesses for highly-competitive projects in Michigan that have fewer job creation numbers than required by the original MBDP guidelines.
“The decisions by Duncan Aviation and West Michigan Tool & Die to expand in Michigan highlight the strength of our state’s talented workforce and advanced manufacturing ecosystem, while further demonstrating our commitment to providing long-term economic growth for all Michiganders,” said Quentin L. Messer, Jr., CEO of MEDC and President and Chair of the MSF Board. ““This project is a win for the entire state. We are grateful to the Governor and legislators for the continued support of the Michigan Business Development Program. These projects reflect our commitment to working with our partners to ensure that Michigan becomes an even better place for each of our 10 million-plus friends and neighbors to live, work, visit, play, and create futures.”
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 www.MichiganBusiness.org. For Pure Michigan® tourism information, your trip begins at www.michigan.org. Join the conversation on: Facebook Instagram LinkedIn, and Twitter.
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